TVH Ladies Win the First Match of the UK Women’s League Premier

Thames Valley Harriers ladies show again why they are the best team in the country. Having won the European Champions Club Cup group B in Portugal the weekend before the strength of the team was truly tested with no specialist 100m and 200m sprinters available and a few others missing due to injury, illness and exam pressures. Yet, the 22 TVH athletes who made is to sunny Swansea did amazingly well not only to cover all 37 team spaces but also to win the match by a dramatically close 2 points from Birchfield Harriers and 3 points from Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow. Everyone in the team made a significant difference to TVH’s final points tally.

There was a tremendous team spirit once again from the first to last event as TVH ladies were rewarded with 6 wins, 2 club records and many personal best performances. Most points were accumulated in the field events and it was very pleasing to see many new faces doing so well – welcoming our superb 9 new athletes making their TVH UKWAL debuts.

Emma O'Hara new club record
Emma O’Hara new club record

The first throwing event of the day was the hammer. Emma O’Hara was in fine form having the weekend before beat her own TVH club record to win in Portugal, Emma once again went past her one week old club record with a fine throw of 58.25m to come 2nd in the A string. There was another club record as 17 year old Katie Lambert made a super debut with an outstanding 54.39m to break Emma O’Hara’s U20 club record and place 2nd in the B string.

TVH’s no.1 pole vaulter Shannon Connolly was forced to miss the match due to an injury that was aggravated in Portugal, however Ugne Liuksaityte put in a sterling effort to clear the opening height of 2.30m in the B string pole vault having not picked up a pole for over four years. In the A string, TVH’s new member Shannon Rapacchi stepped up well to be TVH’s A string vaulter, clearing 3.00m for 6th place. At the same time as competing in the pole vault, Ugne was also taking part in the long jump competition. A little compromised by her efforts in the pole vault, she did well to put in a safe jump of 5.11m on her 3rd and final attempt for 4th place in the B string. The A string was a competitive affair with Angela Barrett leading after her first jump but unlucky to be overtaken in the final round by the Edinburgh AC athlete who jumped 5.95m, just 4cm further than Angela’s best on the day.

Over on the track, the competition was equally strong as the UK’s 8 top ladies clubs fought hard for every point. Most of TVH’s best scoring track events of the day involved barriers. In the 100m hurdles Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, despite feeling unwell, did extremely well for the team to place 3rd in a strong A string race with 14.18. The B string event saw one of TVH new 1st claim members, Tayla Benson, finish a fine 2nd with 14.79. The 400m hurdles also saw Leslie Delgado make her UKWAL debut with a very strong run of 60.30 for 3rd place. Only one week since her 400m hurdles PB in Portugal, Lucy Ferguson was again not far from her best with a good run for 4th place in the B string with 63.70. Lisa da Silva had a very pleasing race in the 2000m steeplechase to finish an excellent 2nd in 7:33.

With no specialist 100m/200m sprinters it was down to our hurdlers to try to get as many points as possible for the team. TVH’s longest serving ladies team member, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, volunteered to do the 100m and did well to finish 7th in 12.86. TVH’s other sprint hurdler, Tayla Benson also stepped up to do the 100m flat and matched Angelita’s time with 12.85 to finish 6th in the B string.

The 200m was another very high standard competition with the winner from Edinburgh AC, Alisha Rees, running a World Junior qualifying time. This time TVH’s 400m hurdles were put in to cover the gaps. Leslie Delgado ran a strong race into a -1.3 headwind to place 8th in a solid time of 25.76. Lucy Ferguson ran a new personal best in the 200m with 26.28 to place 7th in the B string.

Despite also feeling unwell, TVH’s club captain Zoey Clark made a welcome return to the team in to the individual 400m after her contribution to a new club record and relay win in Portugal. From the difficult outside lane, Zoey ran a fine race to win TVH’s only track race of the day in her best ever time outdoors, 53.18. Lucy Ferguson was once again back on the track, with another personal best time of 57.65 finished 4th in the B string 400m.

The middle distance events this year were very strong. In the 800m A string, Michaela Mayor composed herself well to finish 5th with 2:15.71 after a rapid opening lap. In the B String, Imperial College student Alex Mundell debuted for the club and got stuck in to match Michaela’s 5th place with 2:24.58. The 3000m was stacked with some of the UK’s best middle distance runners. Both TVH’s athletes had competed in the British 10k on Monday and had busy week’s working on their PHD’s. Despite this and having also competed for the club in Portugal, Fiona Thompson took advantage of the fast pace and clocked a season’s best of 10:05.47 to place 7th in the A string. In the B string, Imperial College student Sarah Johnson dug deep to place 6th with 10:34.93. In the 1500m, Fiona and Michaela were back in action and as always gave it everything, both running season bests of 4:50.16 (8th) and 4:55.4 (5th) respectively.

Back over to the field and there were some outstanding performances taking place by TVH athletes. The discus saw two athletes making their TVH debuts at the UKWAL with Sophie Parkinson-Brown’s throw of 43.62m placing her 3rd in the A string. Seventeen year old Sophie Mace also made an outstanding debut with 42.39m for a win in the B string.

The shot putt was another high class competition with the Windsor Slough and Eton athlete Rachel Wallader setting a European championship qualifying mark. Not far behind was Danielle Opara with 13.65m to place 3rd in the A string. Sophie Parkinson-Brown in her second event of the day scored more valuable points in the B string with a fine 2nd place having throwed 12.04m.

Javelin duo Laura Britane and Olga Kotmilosi picked up more needed points for the team with 4th place in the A string (41.18m) and 2nd in the B string (40.04m) respectively. Both are looking in great form and will no doubt extend their throws this season.

TVH’s first double win came in the high jump. New first claim member Pippa Rogan is having a remarkable season and just missed out on another club record with her attempt at 1.81m but her first time clearance at 1.75m was good enough to win the A string. Inspired by Pippa’s jumping, Annabelle Bates, who is also a fast improving athlete was delighted to set a new life time best of 1.70m to win the B string, a height that would have placed her equal 2nd in the A string.

TVH’s strongest event over the last few years, the triple jump, continued despite Lia Stephenson being unavailable for this match. Angela Barrett managed to find a big jump in her final attempt to win with 12.94m ahead of the current British champion. Medical student and TVH UKWAL debutant Montana Jackson put together her best ever series of jumps to win the B string by over 1 metre with 12.69m PB and score TVH much needed maximum points. With so many brilliant performances in the field it was a very close call for TVH’s Field Athlete of the Match award – but for her efforts in the long and triple jumps Angela Barrett was chosen.

Club athlete of the match, Lucy Ferguson - 400m hurdles, 400m, 200m and 4x100m
Cub athlete of the match, Lucy Ferguson – 400m hurdles, 400m, 200m and 4x100m

With the top five clubs exchanging positions all day the final match positions were to be decided in the relays and steeplechase. With no 100m sprinters, TVH’s 4x100m team was made up by 400m hurdler Lucy Ferguson, 100m hurdler Tayla Benson, triple jumper Montana Jackson and long jumper Ugne Liuksaityte. The newly assembled team did very well to get the baton round in a good time of 49.56 for 7th place. With many gaps needing to be filled, there were some outstanding candidates for the TVH Club Athlete of the Match, but this award went to Lucy Ferguson for her 400m hurdles, sprint relay and PBs in the 200m and 400m.

Track athlete of the match Zoey Clark and field athlete of the match Angela Barrett
Track athlete of the match Zoey Clark and field athlete of the match Angela Barrett

Following a boost of 7 points in the steeplechase and with just the 4x400m to go TVH knew there would be only one or two points separating them from Birchfield Harriers, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow and Edinburgh in the overall match standings. TVH’s quartet of Angela Barrett, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, Leslie Delgado and Zoey Clark rose to the challenge and ran a tremendous race with Zoey chasing down a 20m gap to pip the Birchfield athlete on the line and bring the team home in 4th place with 3:45.28. Zoey Clark’s relay leg was her quickest ever for the team and her amazing split of 51.9 won her the TVH Track Athlete of the Match award.

Thank you to all the officials that contributed 5 points each to the teams points total; Roger Fitzgerald (time keeper), Maire Gorman (track judge), Alan Ferguson (field official) and Helen Ferguson (field official making her TVH UKWAL debut). Also to all the other supporters, drivers and parents that helped out on the day – it was truly an all-round great team effort from everyone!

With the last two matches in London on 2nd July and 6th August TVH’s ladies team are well on their way to defend their title from 2015 as the best ladies team in the UK!

Match ResultTeamLeague PointsMatch Points
1stThames Valley Harriers8207.0
2ndBirchfield Harriers7205.0
3rdWindsor, Slough E & H6204.0
4thEdinburgh AC5196.0
5thSwansea Harriers4183.0
6thShaftesbury Barnet Harriers3177.0
7thEnfield & Haringey AC2136.0
8thNotts AC1120.0