British Athletics League – TVH Men Excel at ‘Big Saturday’ in Bedford

The third fixture of the season was a new experience for the BAL with all five divisions, featuring 100s of athletes, competing at one venue. The ‘Big Saturday’, as it was named, brought an exciting atmosphere to Bedford. It also proved to be a roller-coaster ride for the TVH men who finished the match in a highly credible 6th place, after fighting tooth and nail against rivals as the scores moved back and forth throughout the day.

Importantly we finished ahead of both Southampton AC and City of Liverpool AC, placing us in 6th place in the Premiership Division after three matches. The fight with Southampton was very close, and we ended the day just eight points ahead (237 points versus 229 points). The season is not over until the last match at Allianz Park where we will need to make one last push to ensure that our continued position in the Premiership is secure, for the first time in over 10 years, and to reach a mid-table finishing position in 2017.

Luke Lennon-Ford 400m 47.75

Track Man of the Match went to Luke Lennon-Ford for his strong support in both relays, including yet another important win in the 4x400m relay, as well as a well-executed 400m A-string race, despite headwinds on the back straight, with a time of 47.75 seconds in 5th place. Luke is having an improved season compared to last year, and wish him the best as he soon becomes a father. The recent success of Roger Federer, father of four, will no doubt inspire Luke to maintain top form into fatherhood.

Emmanuel Thomas Pole Vault 4.63m

Field Man of the Match went to pole vault athlete Emmanuel Thomas, new to TVH this year, who has improved at his event throughout the season, and earnt yet another PB on Saturday, of 4.63m. This put him in 4th place in the A-string event, earning valuable points when the score was neck and neck with rivals Southampton. Emmanuel won gold at the English Schools pole vault event earlier in July, with a previous lifetime best of 4.62m. Will these margins, cm by cm, see Emmanuel move his way towards a 5.00m clearance in the next year or two?

Craig Sturrock Shot 14.54m

Club Man of the match was awarded to Craig Sturrock, our dependable and dedicated shot put thrower, who also throws in his less preferred event, the discuss. A stalwart member of the club Craig has travelled further than most for both BAL and SAL matches this season and has been a consistent high point scorer in the shot put event. He won the B-string shot on Saturday, with a distance of 14.54m and then went on to compete in the discuss, throwing 39.11m for 7th place.

The ambitious timetable of the ‘Big Saturday’ required an early start for some of our competitors and Joe Steele and Joel Bright-Davies were first up in the long jump. Battling injury Joe persevered and still managed a 6.69m jump in the A-string, for a 7th position. Joel came 6th in the B-string event with a best of 5.66m.

Yet again the worst of the match weather was reserved for the shot put event where we were represented by Valley men Remco Goetheer and Craig Sturrock. Remco threw 16.60m for 2nd place and valuable points in the A-string. Remco has shown admirable commitment to the club having arrived on Friday to throw for us on the Saturday, before travelling home to evening and competing in the Dutch National Championships on the Sunday, where he finished in 3rd place. Meanwhile, as already stated, Craig won the B-string shot put event with a best of 14.54m.

In the first track event Chris McAlister and Andrew Ajube had to run in wet conditions over the 400m hurdles. In a competitive field Chris came 5th in 53.59 seconds in the A-string race while Andrew ran 58.15 seconds for 4th place in the B-string event.

Our first win came in the 3000m race with Antonio Silva finishing 1st in a time of 8:21.72 in the B-string. A-string runner Mo Aadan boldly – and to some complaints from athletes behind him! – took the race out at a fast pace and was only just caught in the final lap, finishing 3rd in a time of 8:13.12 – a PB for Mo by just over one second.

The next field event was the hammer, with Jamie Potton-Burrel throwing a best of 53.99m for 6th place in the A-string, whilst Steve Whyte came 4th in the B-string with a best of 45.79m (before quickly dashing off to the airport for his holiday).

Back on the track was the 100m with top club sprinters Leroy Cain and Edmond Amaning. Having run PBs over 100m and 200m last month Leroy would have been a strong contender in the A-string 100. However, a recent niggle unfortunately prevented him from running the race that he was capable of, although be bravely finished in 11.81 (+0.8) for 8th place in a match where every point really did count, and we wish him a speedy recovery to full race fitness. In the B-string race Edmond came 4th in a time of 10.86 (+0.7).

High-jumpers Toni Ademuwagun and Michael Adekunle have both had successful seasons so far, recording PBs in recent weeks with Toni clearing over 2m (2.03m) for the first time and Michael coming very close (1.96m). The high jump event was affected by the rain, will all heights below par. In the A-string event Toni finished 7th with a best of 1.90m, whilst Michael came 3rd with a best of 1.85m in the B-string event.

For the 800m races Kieron Sexton stepped up to the A-string event and finished 6th place in a competitive race in a time of 1:56.21. Paskar Owor raced the B-string, unfortunately getting spiked by a competitor early in the race, but fighting on nonetheless to finish in 7th place in a time of 2:01.94.

In the steeplechase Manuel Caeiro, who made his BAL debut at Lee Valley where he ran 10:37, improved on this time at Bedford by 26s! He ran a season’s best of 10:11.49 for 7th place in the A-string. Club stalwart Rob Vallance came home with 5th place in the B-string in a time of 10:31.07.

We welcomed discuss thrower Raul Rinken to the BAL team this match. Raul threw 40.32m in the A-string for an 8th place finish. Whilst he will be a little disappointed with the distance thrown he will no doubt exceed it the next time he pulls on the Valley vest. In the B-string event Craig Sturrock threw 39.11m for 7th place.

By this point in the day the latest score position put Southampton 13 points ahead of us, and from here on we had a real fight on our hands against the lads in the red-and-white strip. A fight that was ultimately won by the Valley men…

This was where Emmanuel Thomas’ crucial PB of 4.63m in the pole vault came, placing him in 4th place in the A-string. In the B-string event steadfast club man Stan Vilga cleared 3.60m, also for 4th place.

The 400m featured the duo of Luke Lennon-Ford and Victor Dos Santos. Luke ran 47.75 seconds and came 5th in a tight finish in the A-race. Having returned from competing in Madrid the evening before, Victor still managed a 2nd place in the B-string, in a time of 47.80 seconds.

Sadly we were missing new club member Jack Hatton in the 110m hurdles, having come a very close 2nd in this event at the previous match in a time of 14.31 seconds. Jack is recovering from a hamstring injury and we wish him well for his recovery. Florian Vogel stepped up to the A-string in Bedford and ran a season’s best of 15.89 seconds to come 6th. Unfortunately Andrew Ajube, our B-string runner, was a little too keen in the blocks and false started in his race.

The weight of injuries fell heavily on our javelin squad, with Jack Swain suffering a hamstring injury in warm-up and unable to compete. A-string athlete Gavin Johnson-Assoon has been carrying an Achilles injury but still managed to throw 59.66m for 5th place in the A-string event, whilst javelin-coach Dave Burrell stepped in at last minute to compete in the B-string event, throwing a best of 35.12m for 7th place.

In one of the final track events Edmond Amaning returned for the 200m to clock an impressive 21.34 seconds (+0.6) in the A-string race, coming 2nd behind Leon Reid of Birchfield. U20 athlete Keano Paris-Samuel ran a solid race in the B-string to come home 5th in a time of 22.6 seconds (+1.3). Keano is having a good season, having PB’d in this event in June, running 21.95 (-2.8) at Crystal Palace.

The 1500m was contested by Valley men Mo Aadan and Paskar Owor, both returning from races earlier in the day. In a tactical race A-string runner Paskar came 7th in a time of 4:01.03, with Mo close behind in 4:01.85 for 3rd place in the B-string.

We entered into the relays with a narrow margin ahead of chasers Southampton and it was all to play for as Chaka Maillet, Jehvaun Senior, Keano Paris-Samuel, and Luke Lennon-Ford stepped out for the 4×100. Unfortunately the team was disqualified on the first changeover however.

4x400m Luke (48.7), Edmond (47.9 L3), Victor (47.6 L4) and Chris (49.9 L1)

The 4×400 squad of Chris McAlister, Luke Lennon-Ford, Edmond Amaning, and Victor Dos Santos produced another superb performance to come 1st in 3:14.02. Chris executed a solid first leg (49.9) placing TVH in 2nd at the changeover, with second-leg runner Luke (48.7) wasting no time in taking the lead from Newham and handing the baton to Edmond. Newham remained close behind but Edmond (47.9) kept the chasers at bay, handing the baton to Victor (47.6) for a strong final lap and a two second lead at the finish.

This was a fantastic way to finish the day, with the final results announcement coming shortly after, confirming our slender lead over Southampton AC.

A big thanks to the BAL team for putting on the ambitious ‘Big Saturday’ programme and we look forward to another ‘Big’ event in the 2018 season. Thanks also to John Husbands who volunteered a very long day officiating at the event. Thanks as ever to the commitment of Peter Browne, Paul Oppe, and particularly Phil Wetton of the BAL management team who were busy behind the scenes helping preparation for the Bedford match.

Caspar Donnison

Team Manager

17th July 2017