TVH’s ladies team representing Great Britain achieved their ever greatest success with victory in European Champion Clubs Cup in Leiria, Portugal on Saturday 28th May.
Brilliant performances throughout the whole TVH group secured victory in the Group B division from AD Mass Ljubljana of Slovenia in 2nd and Dundrum South Dublin AC in 3rd.
With the title coming down to the very last race it really was a team performance -TVH’s strength in depth set the team apart from its rivals in achieving no less than 17 top three finishes out of 22 events including 7 victories.
European Athletics, the Portuguese town of Leiria and its local athletics club, Juventude Vidigalense, were very welcoming hosts. After a couple of days of getting settled into Portugal, it was soon competition day on Saturday
We were greeted with the beautiful hot sunshine and Abigail Moronkeji arriving just in time for the opening ceremony at 9am at the huge Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa stadium.
With the victory ceremony not due until 7pm the team knew it was going to be a long day with many twists and turns, although the party atmosphere created by the organisers would help keep to the team in good spirits.
First up was Kizzi Barazetti in the high jump. Kizzi had a good training session the day before where she was easily clearing 1.60m. She let the first event nerves get to her, but still did well to clear 1.44m for 6th place, claiming TVH/ GB’s first point of the competition.
Lucy Ferguson was next up in the 400m hurdles and ran strongly over the first hurdle, continuing her fine form throughout the race to run a new lifetime best of 61.63.
The 800m was the next event with Michaela Mayor who has been forced to miss a great part of the winter through illness and injury. After a slow tactical first lap of 69 seconds, Michaela ran a very determined race, taking the lead with 200m to go and narrowly missing out in a sprint with a Finnish athlete to finish 2nd with a season’s best of 2:14.71.
Lisa da Silva was next up in the 3000m steeplechase, Lisa is another athlete that has been out injured for most of the year but did fantastically well to finish 3rd in 11:52.21.
TVH/GB used its maximum quota of two athletes in the non-scoring 100m. Tayla Brade had a good first race of the season to finish 2nd in 12.81. Lucy Ferguson, who was fresh from her superb race over the 400m hurdles, was just behind in 3rd with another personal best, 12.91.
Clieo Stephenson was TVH/GB’s representative in the scoring 100m race. Clieo, who has had a fantastic start to the 2016 season by winning the 100m at BUCS in her final year at university continued her fine form with victory in a fast time of 11.86. Clieo’s victory put TVH top of the overall standings and this triggered a string of other victories for the team.
The Portuguese National Throwing Centre (NTC) 600m away held the ladies hammer, discus and shot put events. First up for TVH/GB was Emma O’Hara in the hammer. Emma led the first round with 52.66m, but had to raise her game after being challenged by Yevgeniya Zabolotniy of Israel second round throw of 52.56m. Emma increased her advantage in the final two rounds of the four, throwing 56.72m and then 57.26m – a new TVH club record.
Back over on the track the wins kept coming. Montene Speight, who is based out in America showed her class to win the 400m in 53.26. Montene is looking to go even faster this year in her bid to make the GB plane to Rio this year.
After lunch and a bit of group zumba for those who had already competed, Shannon Connolly was up in the pole vault – an event hampered by very strong winds and other teams not managing to get their competition poles to Portugal. Shannon was carrying an achilles problem but did really well to finish equal 2nd with a good clearance of 3.35m. Ljubljana’s (Slovenia) Tina Sutej, a finalist at the World and European championships, won with 3.50m.
In a very strong discus competition back at the NTC, Laura Britane‘s good 2nd round throw of 37.78m placed her 5th and less than 2m from 3rd.
TVH/GB’s specialist triple jumper, Lia Stephenson was selected to do the long jump as each club is only allowed to bring one athlete per event. Lia had her best ever long jump competition to finish is a superb 3rd place in a new personal best of 5.56m.
The next event on the track saw a 1500m win for Dundrum’s (Ireland) experienced senior international Maria McCambridge, who triumphed in 4:31.86 at the age of 40. TVH/GB’s Kirsty Addy was a late call up due to injuries and made a fine return to with her first track race in over three years with 4:57.37 for 5th place.
As only 4 trials were allowed in all field events, the shot putt event lasted less than 20 minutes and it was a clear victory by over 1m for TVH/GB for the brilliant Danielle Opara with 13.64m.
In the 200m, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake was back on the track. With the wind picking up in the afternoon, Angelita did well to finish 4th in 25.61 to score 3 more valuable points for the team.
The triple jump saw a fierce battle between TVH/GB’s Angela Barrett and Snezana Vukmirovic from Ljubljana (Slovenia), The Slovenian athlete led after the first round but Angela came back with two big jumps in rounds 2 (12.90m) and 3 (12.94m). Snezana regained the lead with her 13.00m jump in the 3rd round and while Angela’s final jump of the competition was well over 13m but it was unfortunately narrowly adjudged a ‘no jump’.
Tracy Barlow was back racing on the track in the 5000m – her first competition since her London marathon club record in April. As the weather turned with a rain shower and the wind picking up Tracy did all the hard work by front running. An Irish athlete from Dundrum South Dublin AC tracked her all the way until two laps to go where she took off to claim the win. Tracy was clear in 2nd with a new personal best of 17:27.17.
The 3000m was also another tactical race with TVH/GB’s Fiona Thompson doing all the work at the front. On this occasion it was the Slovenian athlete who took the victory with a fast last 600m, with the Irish athlete 2nd and Fiona 3rd in good time, 10:10.45.
The final individual event of the day was the javelin, where Laura Britane. During warm-up Laura did some huge 50m throws and while she only managed 41.98m during the competition her 4th place gained the team 3 more valuable points.
With just the relays to go, AD Mass Ljubljana had narrowed the point’s gap to just 5, so no mistakes were allowed in the relays. The 4x100m quartet of Tayla Brade, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, Montene Speight and Clieo Stephenson all had superb races and safely got the baton round. By the time the baton reached Clieo, TVH/GB were in 3rd place and nearly 10m down on the Slovenian team, but Clieo ran an awesome anchor leg to chase the leading teams down and cross the line first! For this amazing last leg and her outstanding victory in the 100m individual that triggered four consecutive victories for the team, Clieo Stephenson was awarded the TVH athlete of the match award.
The final event of the day the 4x400m, TVH/GB had a fantastic four on paper so as long as the baton got round safely, overall team victory would be guaranteed. Starting with Angela Barrett on the lead off leg, over to captain Zoey Clark, Montene Speight and GB heptathlete Jess Tappin on the final leg, victory was never in doubt as TVH/GB led all the way to set a new outstanding club record 3:42.17! This sealed victory also overall and there were double celebrations for GB athletes as Birchfield Harriers also won in the men’s competition. Team manager Manuel da Silva was rewarded by a customary dip in the steeplechase pit, assisted by the Birchfield lads, photos to follow.
Along with winning the UK Women’s Athletics League last year, this was TVH’s ladies best every result and an absolutely fantastic achievement for the club to gain GB’s club representative for the European Champion Clubs Cup promotion back up to Group A in 2017. Thank you to all officials, supporters and everyone who has helped put such a wonderful group of ladies together. A huge thank you to; Lucy Smith for providing sports massages, former team manager and our number one supporter John Smith, Dave Wilkinson for helping all weekend, our officials, our photographers and all other supporters.
- Thames Valley Harriers (GBR) 89.5
- AD Mass Ljubljana (SLO) 82.5
- Dundrum South Dublin AC (IRL) 70
- Israel Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion (ISR) 66
- Turn Urheiluliitto (FIN) 63
- StG Kreis Limburg-Wielburg (GER)