Going into the title deciding match at Allianz Park, Hendon, Thames Valley Harriers ladies knew that if they finished ahead of Birchfield Harreirs on the day that they would retain their UKWAL title. It was one of our toughest fixtures ever, with the team missing some key athletes due to injury and weddings. The TVH ladies fought for every point but it was not quite enough to hold off a very strong Birchfield Harriers team who won the match. TVH ladies finished third on the day but still held on to second place overall in the league and the top club in the South of England.
In the first event of the track, the 400m hurdles, TVH got off to a solid start. Aisha Naibe-Wey was a last minute addition to the team having unluckily missed out on the Sierra Leonean Olympic team. It had been a long season for Aisha but she still ran a determined race to finish 6th in 61.36. The ever reliable Lucy Ferguson did very well to finish 2nd in B string in a good time of 65.40. Aisha and Lucy were two of our busiest athletes on the day covering four events each. Less than one hour after her 400m hurdles, Lucy was back on the track in the 400m flat demonstrating her grit and determination to finish strongly in 6th place in a very competitive field with another sub 60s performance, 59.65, quickly followed by 8th in the A string 100m hurdles and a good leg in the 4x400m team. Aisha followed her 400m hurdles with 5th place in the B string 100m hurdles (15.31), 7th in 200m B string (26.68) and also a very good leg in the 4x400m relay.
TVH’s long jump combination has changed in every match this season and this time it was Lia Stephenson who joined Angela Barrett. Angela, against some of the best long jumpers in the country had a fantastic competition to win on the last jump with 5.96m, just 1 cm outside her lifetime best. Lia Stephenson also did well to finish 3rd in the B string with 5.49m. The triple jump was another high level competition with the top two finishers in the British Champs competing for Birchfield vs TVH’s top two triple jumpers – Angela Barrett who is rank 5th in the UK and Monatana Jackson who finished 5th in the British Championships. Both Angela and Montana pushed Birchfield Harriers all the way but would have both needed new lifetime bests to win as they finished 2nd with 12.76m and 12.43m respectively.
In the vertical jumps; the high jump saw Ella Widdop-Gray clear a brilliant 1.65m to win the B string, with only one week of training under her belt over the last six months. Ever present in the UKWAL has been Philippa Rogan and in a another battle with the British high jump champion from Birchfield Harriers, Philippa equalled her club record with a great clearance at 1.80m. It has been great having Pippa in the team this year and we all look forward to seeing her jump even higher next year. For her club record equalling jump, Pippa was awarded the TVH Field Athlete of the Match award. Another new athlete to the team who has not missed a UKWAL match this year was pole vaulter Shannon Rapacchi. In another high class competition Shannon finished a credible 7th in the A string with 2.90m It was also great to have Aeysha Robinson back in the team. Aeysha cleared 2.50m for 5th place in the B string.
The throws saw one of our youngest members of the team have another good competition in a very top class event. Katie Lambert has helped transform the hammer event from the lowest scoring event for TVH in the past two UKWAL seasons to the 5th highest scoring event this year. With Emma O’Hara missing this match Katie stepped up very well to take on the A string duties to finish in a good 7th place with 53.07m. Danielle Opara also rose well to the occasion to finish a good 4th place with 37.51m in the B string. Danielle followed her hammer with a season’s best 39.25m in the discus and a very good 13.91m in the shot putt.
Another ever present youngster, Sophie Mace, who has recently been forced to miss a lot of training due to a back injury but was determined to do her best for the team. Despite her bad back, Sophie showed off her talent again with a very good 2nd place finish with 40.55m. Sophie Parkinson-Brown found the hot conditions quite tough but still had another excellent day to finish 3rd in the A string discus with 42.82m and 5th in the B string shot with 11.68m. Abigail Moronkeji, who has been competing for TVH for over 10 years, came in to support the throwers with a good throw of 11.59m as a guest in the shot putt.
The ever present duo of Laura and Olga were back in action in the javelin. Laura Britane, who has been coming to terms with her new javelin technique this season, did well to finish 6th in the A string javelin with 41.28m. Olga Kotmilosi backed Laura up very well in the javelin with 40.86m to claim a fantastic victory in the B string.
Back on the track, the first middle distance event also saw the ever present Michaela Mayor run a very gutsy race despite carrying a foot injury which has hampered her training, to clock a season’s best time of 2:12.49 with 8th place. In the B string, Izzy Dye ran another very good tactical race and in an exciting sprint finish with four athletes around her Izzy came home in an excellent 3rd place with 2:15.85.
Fiona Thompson again ran the 3000m/1500m double and produced two more excellent performances in closely fought races. Conditions were a little warm for the 3000m athletes, so Fiona ran very well for a season’s best of 10:03.98 and a superb 2nd place in the B string. Marathon specialist Tracy Barlow went with the pace in the leading group and was rewarded with an impressive 4 second PB to finish 5th in the A string in a great time of 9:49.08.
Fiona Thompson was joined by Izzy Dye doing her first ever 800m/1500m double in the UKWAL. After a slow opening 300m, Fiona took on the pace and Izzy tried to hold on to the lead group. Fiona finished a good 6th with 4:51.86 in the A string with Izzy not too far behind clocking 5:02.34 to also finish 6th in the B string.
Victoria Carter in the 2000m steeplechase had a fabulous race to finish 4th as she set a new PB with 7:40.31, ranking her number one V45 in the UK.
In the 100m Clieo Stephenson made her first UKWAL race this season and was very close to her best with a fast 11.76 to finish 3rd. Venus Benjamin-Maclean was also in a very competitive B string race and despite running very close to her PB finished 7th with a fine time of 12.68. The team was also pleased to see Clieo running her first 200m in over three years and was again close to her best ever time into a head wind with 24.99 for 5th place. For her superb return to the team and strong anchor leg in the 4x100m, Clieo was awarded the TVH Track Athlete of the Match award.
The team were delighted to have Captain Zoey Clark back on the track after a season that has been blighted by injury, resulting in her being forced to miss the previous match. Zoey showed her class in her specialist event the 400m, as she powered through the field to win by over half a second in 52.58, a new personal best and club record time. For Zoey’s outstanding time, she was awarded the UKWAL overall athlete of the match award.
With our sprinters doing quite a few events and with Venus having to get back to work, we were delighted to see another athlete who has been suffering injuries return to the squad; Izzie Stanway. The 4x100m relay team consisted of two specialist triple jumpers (Lia Stephenson and Montana Jackson) and two sprinters (Izzie Stanway and Clieo Stephenson) and they did very well to finish 6th with TVH’s best time by over 1s in the UKWAL this season of 48.27. The final event of the day saw a tired quartet of Lucy Ferguson, Angela Barrett, Aisha Naibe-Wey and Zoey Clark run very well for the team in the 4x400m, also finishing 6th place in a very competitive race with 3:56.68.
The TVH Club Athlete of the Match was a close call with so many athletes competing in numerous events and showing tremendous commitment to the team. This match, the award went to the ever present Danielle Opara for her great efforts in being out in the hot sun and still doing so well in her three events; 4th in B string hammer, a season’s best in discus and a fine shot putt where she finished 4th in the A string.A huge thank you to everyone who helped: TVH officials; Alan Ferguson, Dave Huffer, Marion Huffer, Malcom French and Roger Fitzgerald, Florian Vogel for all the photographs, TVH’s sports masseur Lucy Smith, assistant team manager Dave Wilksinson, the TVH management team and all the coaches, parents and supporters that have helped develop such a wonderful team. The team is already determined to regain their title from last year and attempt to become champions of Europe again.
Saturday 6th August 2016, UK Women’s Athletics League Premier Division, Match 3, Allianz Park
|Match Result||Team||League Points||Match Points|
|2nd||Windsor, Slough E & H||7||183.0|
|3rd||Thames Valley Harriers||6||169.0|
|7th||Enfield & Haringey||2||107.0|
|8th||Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers||1||101.0|
|Standings||Team||League Points||Match Points|
|2nd||Thames Valley Harriers||21||577.5|
|3rd||Windsor, Slough E & H||18||576.0|
|6th||Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers||10||467.5|
|8th||Enfield & Haringey||5||376.5|