TVH ladies – 3rd Best Athletics Team in the UK, 1st in the South of England

Thames Valley Harriers ladies are officially ranked the 3rd best athletics team in the UK and the best in the South of England, with a fantastic performance in their final UKWAL match of the season in Eton on Saturday.

The ladies finished an outstanding in 2nd on the day, behind overall league champions for the second consecutive year, Edinburgh AC, who will go on to represent Great Britain in the European Club Champions Cup next year. This result moved the team up to 3rd in the league which is a remarkable achievement, considering that this was TVH’s ladies first ever season in the top flight of club athletics. TVH took their largest ever team to a UKWAL match with 27 athletes including three U20’s making their senior debuts, all showing real team spirit, fighting for every point to be rewarded with this well-deserved result. In additional to 2nd place on the day, there were also two fantastic club records, 10 PB’s and five event wins that were backed up by a host of top three performances.

The team got off to a flying start in the pole vault, the first field event of the day. Shannon Connolly flew over 3.40m for 2nd place in the A string and was very close to breaking her own club record (3.45m) set two weeks ago at the U20 British Championships. Kizzi Barazetti also placed 2nd  in the B string with a 20cm PB of 2.90m. Kizzi was great form and moved on to the high jump (after running a couple laps of the track) narrowly missing out on the B string victory by nearly clearing 1.60m. However, her final clearance of 1.55 was good enough for 3rd place. For the PB and all round team effort Kizzi was awarded the TVH Field Athlete of the Match trophy. The high jump was a very high standard competition, with GB international Isobel Pooley clearing 1.90m. TVH’s 17 year old Ella Widdop-Gray rose well to the occasion to set a new U20 club record by clearing 1.70m to claim equal 2nd place in the A string. Valuable points were also gained in the horizontal jumps; Rebekah Wiltshire made a welcomed return to the team to place 5th in the B string with a leap of 5.16m and in the A string Angela Barrett, although a little disappointed not to get her run up correct and therefore just missing out on the cut for three additional jumps, still managed 5.44m to place 7th in the A string. Angela more than made up for her long jump by winning in her specialist event, the triple jump. Angela’s hop, skip and jump totalled 12.81m, beating many of her international rivals in the process. In the B string competition, Michaela Shaw was in great form, jumping a huge PB of 10.48m for 4th place.

The throwing events saw a debut from one of our U20’s, Lucy Knott, in the hammer. The hammer competition is one of the highest standard events in the league with nearly all the top throwers in the country competing for a Premier division club. Lucy gained valuable experience by finishing 6th with 32.33m in the B string. Carla Letheby also gained a valuable point for her solid throw of 41.91m for 8th place in the A string. Carla, as always, was the busiest TVH field athlete of the day, going on to earn the team many more points with very good throws in the B string discus (38.07m 2nd) and javelin (36.35m 3rd). Carla was joined by her usual throwing partner Laurensa Britane in the discus and javelin. In the A string discus, Laurensa threw close to a season’s best with 42.36m for 6th place, however, she left her best throws until the javelin. Laurensa, who narrowly missed out on winning the javelin event in the last two matches managed to clinch the victory this time by a few centimetres with a fantastic throw of 45.58m. The shot putt saw two late arrivals from our ever present and reliable combination of Phyllis Agbo and Abigail Moronkeji. Abigail leaving it particularly late, warming up by running from a taxi to the shot putt circle, finished in 4th place in the B string with 11.16m. The shot is another high standard event and TVH’s former GB heptathlete Phyllis just missed the cut for another three throws, but still managed a good 11.71m for 6th place in the A string.

In the opening track event, Claire Taylor ran close to her PB in the 400m hurdles with a time of 61.51 to place 5th. Lucy Ferguson who has shown a remarkable improvement in this event over the last few weeks ran strongly again to place 3rd in 63.39. In the sprints, U20s athletes Clieo Stephenson and Venus Benjamin-Maclean ran well to place 5th in the A string with 12.33 and 6th in the B string with 12.54 respectively. Clieo’s performance was particularly good given that she has only recently returned back to training after a broken toe and was up against GB 100m record holder Montell Douglas. In the non-scoring 100m race there were two U20s making their debuts in the UKWAL; Grace Andam ran a PB of 12.75 to finish 5th, closely followed by Grace Ogwel who ran a season’s best to place 6th in a time of 12.82. Big points were won in the 400m. Zoey Clark, who has recently been selected to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, destroyed the field from lane 7 by over a second to win in 54.12. Lucy Ferguson, clearly inspired by Zoey’s run, then went on to produce a PB by nearly a second in the B string event, finishing 2nd in 58.64, which was a performance that crowned her as TVH Track Athlete of the Match. An hour later, Zoey Clark broke her PB in the 200m, to run a blistering 24.30 only 1 tenth shy of another club record, to place 3rd, behind Montell Douglas. Zoey was backed up by club stalwart Amber Simukonda who ran solidly to place 7th in the B string with 26.12. Angelita Broadbelt-Blake managed to clear the first hurdle without any trouble and showed her athleticism in the 100m hurdles maintaining her form to cross the line in 2nd place with a time of 13.61. Claire Taylor after a relatively slow start stormed through the field to win the B string in style with a fine performance of 14.52, making this TVH’s strongest events of the day, along with the 400m. Grace Ogwel also ran the 100m hurdles as a non-scorer in a near season’s best of 15.27.

In the first middle distance event of the day, the 800m, there was panic in the lead up with Michaela Mayor twisting her ankle badly during warm-up and Maire Gorman having gone missing when the officials did the call up. Michaela hobbled to the start line and like a true trooper decided to run on her swollen ankle to finished in a determined 6th position in 2:16.58. We all wish Michaela a speedy recovery from this latest injury setback. With Marie missing for the B string race (later we learnt she had misunderstood the start time), volunteers were sought to run two laps of the track. Multi-talented Kizzi Barazetti fresh from her PB in the pole vault stepped in for the team also placing a very creditable 6th place with a time of 2:35.36. Fortunately, the rest of the middles distance events went without a hiccup. In the 3000m, Lisa da Silva and Tracy Barlow were in fine form, both finishing 4th in their respective strings. Lisa had a superb run to finish within 2 seconds of her lifetime best in 10:00.35 and Tracy finished with a 4 second PB of 10:38.40, making it smiles all round from the duo. In the 1500m, Fiona Thomson showed a promissing return to form following her recent spate of injuries to finish 7th in the A string with 4:49.63. Fiona was backed up by Lisa da Silva who ran well in her second event of the day to finish 4th in the B string with 4:52.92. In the 2000m steeplechase TVH fielded three athletes. Sheena Allport showed natural ability over the barriers to claim a well deserved 3rd place in the A string and only 2 seconds off the club record. Next in for TVH was Victoria Carter who negotiated the barriers well without stepping on them for the first time to run 7:47.73 for 5th place overall and winning the non-scoring B string event. Finally, Maire managed to make it to the start line on time and not only that, she broke her PB by a convincing 10 seconds to run 8:07 as a guest runner.

The relays as usual proved to be some of the most exciting races of the day. Following TVH’s U20 4x100m club record at the Youth Development League the previous week (48.8s), an U20’s team was assembled for valuable experience against some of the best relay teams in the UK. GB junior relay runner Clieo Stephenson provided pre-race changeover advice to her team mates; Grace Ogwel, Venus Benjamin-Maclean and Grace Andam. The quartet did not disappoint by bringing the baton home successfully in 5th place in a time of 49.06.  There were again many strong candidates to run a leg for the 4x400m, however, the team of Claire Taylor, Angela Barrett, Lucy Ferguson and Zoey Clark were selected with the aim of giving Zoey as little work as possible to do on the final leg. All four athletes ran great determined legs and were never outside of the top four. Zoey ran another impressive fourth leg (53.4 split) to bring the team home in 2nd place in a time of 3:47.32, beating the club record from the previous UKWAL match. We all wish Zoey the best of luck for the Commonwealth Games next month in Glasgow.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make 2014 such a successful year – athletes, officials, drivers, helpers and supporters. We all can look forward to a second year in the Premier division where we will be challenging to win the league. Up the Valley!

Match ResultTeamLeague PointsMatch Points
1stEdinburgh AC8247.0
2ndThames Valley Harriers7209.5
3rdBirchfield Harriers6206.5
4thWindsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow5192.0
5thBlackheath & Bromley4159.0
6thSwansea Harriers3158.0
7thTrafford AC2126.0
8thSouthampton AC1112.0


   Standings   TeamLeague PointsMatch Points
1stEdinburgh AC22.5685.5
2ndBirchfield Harriers21619.5
3rdThames Valley Harriers16569.5
4thBlackheath & Bromley15525.0
5thSwansea Harriers13.5527.5
6thWindsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow11528.5
7thTrafford AC6426.5
8thSouthampton AC3328.5