TVH Ladies second place sets up final day UKWAL title showdown

Thames Valley Harriers ladies put in another tremendous all round team effort to finish in a strong 2nd position and maintaining their position at the top of the UKWAL Premier Division. A victory in the final match on Saturday 6th August will guarantee TVH becoming champions for the second time in a row.

There was a fantastic team spirit once again from the first to last event as TVH ladies were rewarded with 5 wins, 3 club records and many personal best performances. With our men’s team winning their BAL Division 1 match by over 50 points and gaining promotion into the Premier Division, TVH can claim to be one of the top all round clubs in the country.

TVH's club record breaking hammer throwers; Katie Lambert, Julia Ratcliffe and Emma O'Hara
TVH’s club record breaking hammer throwers; Katie Lambert, Julia Ratcliffe and Emma O’Hara

With a number of our top sprinters and hurdlers out due to injuries, most points were accumulated once again in the field. The first throwing event of the day was the hammer where for the second match in a row there were two new club records. Emma O’Hara, despite being a little unwell during the week, was a little short of her club record from the first match in Swansea, with her best throw of 56.85m placing her in a very good 4th position. One of TVH new stars, Katie Lambert, claimed her first victory in the UKWAL with another outstanding new U20’s Club Record of 55.90m. Competing in TVH colours for the first time was New Zealand’s national record holder and 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Julia Ratcliffe who did well to beat Emma O’Hara’s club record with a fine effort of 64.62m

TVH’s no.1 pole vaulter Shannon Connolly was back jumping despite an ankle injury that forced her to miss the first match in Swansea. With a great vault of 3.40m she finished a good 4th in the A string in a very high level competition that was won in a new league record of  4.30m by the Birchfield athlete Sally Peake. In the B string, Shannon Rapacchi who has also been forced to miss a few weeks training due to injury, did well to clear 2.90m and to finish in a fantastic equal 2nd place.

The long jump was a competitive affair with the leaders changing with each round. Angela Barrett once again finished 2nd with a very good leap of 5.82m. Montana Jackson despite a foot injury competed in the long jump for the first time for TVH. Montana had a few problems with her run up so with her last jump had to play it safe for the team. Montana’s jump of 5.31m was only 7 cm away from making the cut for three more jumps but nonetheless was good enough for a fine 3rd place in the B string.

Over on the track, the team stepped it up a gear from the first match. The first event on the track saw Lucy Ferguson move up to the A string 400m hurdles. The 400m hurdles A string race had most of the UK’s top ranked athletes and Lucy did very well to run 62.89, finishing 6th. Middle distance athlete Alex Mundell very kindly offered to race the 400m hurdles for a point as TVH’s top hurdlers were missing. Alex tried her best for the team against specialist hurdlers and did very well to finish 7th, gaining not one but two valuable points for the team.

As per the first match, the middle distance events were very strong. In the 800m A string Michaela Mayor ran a fantastic race to beat Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers’ Olympic bound athlete Beth Potter, into 4th place with a season’s best of 2:13.74. The B String saw a welcome return from one of star athletes from last year, Izzy Dye. Izzy as always ran a very well judged race, finished strongly to place 2nd in 2:16.75. Despite the windy conditions, the 3000m was again another fast race. Returning to the team, England International marathon runner, Tracy Barlow had a very strong race to run her second quickest ever time of 9:57.41 to place 5th in the A string. Not far behind was a very gutsy Fiona Thompson who ran a season’s best of 10:04.60 to place 3rd in the B string. The 1500m was another very competitive race where Michaela and Fiona put their spikes back on and as always they dug deep and gave it everything. Both Michaela and Fiona improved on their season best times from Swansea, crossing the line together with 4:48.89 (7th A string) and 4:48.93 (6th B string) respectively.

Big points scorer triple jumper, Montana Jackson, gaining more points in the 100m
Big points scorer Montana Jackson gaining more points in the 100m

In the sprints Montene Speight, Tayla Brade and Venus Benjamin-Maclean made welcome returns to the team. In warming up for the 100m Venus unfortunately felt her very tight hamstring so there was a last minute change to the team with triple jumper Montana Jackson filling in for the team as she was already relatively warmed up from her efforts in the long jump. Montana did not look out of place amongst the specialist sprinters and ran a very good race to finish 6th in the B string in a personal best time of 13.04. Tayla Brade was only one hundredth of a second away from her season’s best time she set at the European Champions Clubs Cup in Portugal with 12.82 to take 7th place in the A string, but unfortunately picked up a knee injury so was unable to do a second event.

Angelita Broadbelt-Blake on her way to win the 100m hurdles
Angelita Broadbelt-Blake on her way to win the 100m hurdles

In the 100m hurdles Angelita Broadbelt-Blake had an unusually slow start but did extremely well for the team to chase everyone down and win TVH’s only A string track race of the day in good time of 13.80 into a -1.8 m/s head wind. For her fine victory and contribution to the team in her other events (more on those in a bit), Angelita was awarded the TVH Track Athlete of the Match award. In the B string, Lucy Ferguson was again back on the track with her third event in less than 3 hours and looked very smooth over the hurdles to run an impressive 15.58 to finish 3rd, less than half a second from the winner.

Despite feeling unwell all week and having had a week off training after the British Championships, Montene Speight scored good points for the team.  In a very fast 400m A string race and in the unfavoured lane 1, Montene looked very strong in the home straight to finish a good 4th place with 54.47. Having earlier run well in the 400m hurdles, Lucy Ferguson was in fine form in the 400m B string running a new personal best time for the second match in a row with 57.38 to finish in 4th place.

The 200m was another very high standard competition. Montene Speight did her best for the team but it was only good enough for 8th place with 25.57. In the B string, the team manager was delighted when Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, fresh from her victory in the 100m hurdles, volunteered at the last moment to do the 200m and placed a brilliant 2nd in a time of 25.46.

Lisa da Silva and Victoria Carter in fine form in the steeplechase
Lisa da Silva and Victoria Carter in fine form in the steeplechase

The final individual track event was the steeplechase where Laura Riches from Notts AC ran a division record. Lisa da Silva moved into 3rd place after 200m and maintained this position comfortably through the line, with a time of 7:39.64. It was nice to have Victoria Carter back in the team where she beat the Notts AC B string athlete to win in 7:51.33.

Back over to the field, there were some outstanding performances taking place by TVH athletes. Starting with the discus. Sophie Parkinson-Brown was delighted as she threw an amazing 3 metre personal best of 48.21m finishing 3rd and breaking Elisha Dee’s 14 year old club record and TVH’s second longest standing senior women’s club record. For her new club record Sophie Parkinson-Brown was awarded the TVH Field Athlete of the Match award. Sophie Mace also had a fine competition improving by 2 metres from the first match and is now only 2 metres away from Elisha’s U20s club record with her 2nd place in the B string of 44.32m. Danielle Opara also threw the discus as a warm up for the main event, the shot, by guesting with a throw in excess of 30m.

New discus club record holder, Sophie Parkinson Brown
New discus club record holder, Sophie Parkinson Brown

The shot putt was another high-class competition with Birchfield’s athlete, Adele Nicoll setting a new U23 Welsh record. TVH’s Danielle Opara improved by 2 cm from the first match with a solid 13.67m to place 4th in the A string. Fresh from the club record in the discus Sophie Parkinson-Brown scored more valuable points in the B string with a fine 3rd place throw of 11.68m.

TVH’s only A string win in the field came in the high jump. With first time clearances up to and including 1.75m Pippa Rogan finished equal 1st with Beth Partridge from Birchfield and was very close to winning the event outright with a great effort on her third and final attempt at her club record height of 1.80m. The B string saw pole vaulter, Shannon Rapacchi attempt the high jump for the first time for TVH and did well to finish 4th in the B string with 1.45m.

Angela Barrett 13.07m in the triple jump
Angela Barrett 13.07m in the triple jump

TVH’s best scoring event of the day was the triple jump. Angela Barrett managed another jump over the 13m mark with 13.07m to finish 2nd and Montana Jackson won the B string comfortably in 11.98m despite being limited to a few jumps due to a sore foot.

Javelin duo Laurensa Britane and Olga Kotmilosi set themselves very high standards so were a little disappointed not to go over 40m. Laurensa was unlucky to miss the cut of the top 8 athletes as she finished 9th overall. However, both Olga and Laurensa still picked up very valuable points for the team with 5th place in the A string for Olga (39.36m) and 3rd in the B string for Laurensa (35.92m). Both will be looking to be back well over 40m in the 3rd and final match of the season.

By the time the relays came round there were some very tired legs with most relay runners having already done two or three individual events. The 4x100m team was hampered by the Enfield and Haringey athletes who stepped out of their lane after a missed baton exchanged and went into the path of our second leg runner. The quarter of Lucy Ferguson, Venus Benjamin-MaClean, Montene Speight and Angelita Broadbelt-Blake still got the baton safely round in 49.81 to finish 7th.

Great team effort from Michaela Mayor in the relay
Great team effort from Michaela Mayor in the relay

With a last minute change being required in the 4x400m team, Michaela Mayor stepped the quartet with Angela Barrett, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake and Montene Speight. The standard of the 4x400m is incredibly high and a strong last leg from Montene meant the ladies beat the Edinburgh team to the line to finish 7th in 3:54.97. For her gutsy opening leg in the 4x400m and season best times in the 800m and 1500m Michaela Mayor won the TVH Club Athlete of the Match award.

Thank you to all the officials that contributed 5 points each to the TVH’s points total; Roger Fitzgerald (time keeper), Dave Huffer (track judge), Alan Ferguson (field official) and Marion Huffer (field official). Lucy Smith for providing sport massages. Florine Vogel and Lesley Richardson for the photograpghs and all the other supporters, drivers and parents that helped out on the day.

With a few more athletes due to return for the last match in Allianz Park, North London, a venue that the TVH’s ladies team are unbeaten at, we are in a great position to defend the title from 2015 as the best ladies team in the UK!

Match ResultTeamLeague PointsMatch Points
1stBirchfield Harriers8211.0
2ndThames Valley Harriers 7201.5
3rdWindsor, Slough E & H6189.0
4thShaftesbury Barnet Harriers5188.5
5thEdinburgh AC4180.0
6thNotts AC3164.5
7thSwansea Harriers2160.0
8thEnfield & Haringey AC1133.5
StandingsTeamLeague PointsMatch Points
1st Thames Valley Harriers15417.5
2ndBirchfield Harriers14422.0
3rdWindsor, Slough E & H13401.0
4thEdinburgh AC9386.0
5thShaftesbury Barnet Harriers7303.5
6thSwansea Harriers6353.0
7th Notts AC6294.5
8thEnfield & Haringey2246.5