Thames Valley Harriers – Fourth British League Match, Kingston, 8 August 2015 Match Report
Days like today don’t come around too often and a great win today over rivals Harrow was exceeded only by the news that the Womens’ team had won their final match in the UK Womens League Premier Division, thereby finishing the season as Champions and they now look forward to representing UK in the European Clubs Championship next season.
With a team that was missing only a few first team members Paul Oppe was confident of having a ding-dong battle with Harrow for the Division 2 Title as promotion was virtually certain as a result of our early season performance and the win at Derby.
Despite the fact that the Men’s team normally start slowly (we have started in 7th or 8th place in matches this season where we have eventually won or finished second) the day started well. With a small lead after 4 events we only slipped down into 2nd place once and briefly before forging ahead to win by 20 points from arch-rivals Harrow who also gained promotion to Division 1; but it was the Valley who walked away from the season as Division 2 Champions.
The team spirit that was generated at the away match in Derby rolled over into today’s action and again everyone was out there supporting team mates throughout the day.
Man of the match on the Track was Mohamud Aadan, whose fine 3000m capped a season of 3 other victories over the 4 matches.
Man of the match in the field was Ogo Anochirionye whose 7.16m was a lifetime best as he finished 2nd in the Long Jump.
The clubman of the match was again Jason Comissiong who has been a key member of the British League team for many years as a sprinter in his own right. Today Jason again demonstrated his versatility and ability by running a lifetime best of 15.39 for the 110m hurdles. Jason also threw a near pb in the Javelin with 49.43m, having already run 10.95 for a season’s best in the non-scoring 100m before anchoring the 4x100m team. Not a bad day’s work!
On the track Leroy Cain made a successful return to the team. Although a bit race-rusty he ran a creditable 10.88 for 3rd in the A 100m race. Nigel Thomas also returned to the team having had an unsettled season but showed great power as he simply ran away from the field in the 100m B race to record 10.86 and win by over 3 metres.
Luke Lennon-Ford won the 400m A race in an impressive 48.5 with training partner Omar Hutchison gaining 4th in the B race in 51.08. Unfortunately Luke has been suffering with a shin problem and was not able to double up in the 200m as planned, which was only 25 minutes after the 400m but with ice and some strapping he bravely returned to the team to run a powerful leg in the 4x400m. We are very lucky to have had Luke as part of the Valley set-up this season as his commitment and enthusiasm has been an example to the younger members of the club.
Fortunately, Paul Oppe had had the foresight to have a number of athletes here on the day to run just relays legs and we were able to get Andrew Ajube to step in for Luke Lennon-Ford in the 200m A race and with short notice his 23.28 for 4th was a valuable points earner at a critical point in the match. Nigel Thomas ran a season’s best of 22.40 in the 200m B race for 3rd place.
Paskar Owor again ran the 800m/1500m double and produced two more performances that demonstrated his grit and determination. In a slow run 800m A race he was just short on pace as he was unable to make best use of his strength and endurance but fought hard to gain 4th place in 1:55.28. Mohammed Mohammed made a welcome return to the team following injury problems and his 1:56.54 for 3rd in the B race showed he is well on the path to return to full form.
Paskar Owor ran tenaciously to overhaul everyone but the winner in the 1500m race but as the winner was Myles Edwards, Paskar was rewarded with a B string win in 3:56.6. Myles has had a few problems mid-season with the pressures of his workload and his Charity work that caused a sudden loss of form mid-season. Happily Myles returned to the team today refreshed and looked majestic as he ran in a tactically aware manner throughout the race. The leader had kicked hard with 300m to go but Myles cruised up to his shoulder with 200m to go, kicked once and then kicked again with 100m to go to pull away from the whole field to win in 3:55.32 with club mate Paskar Owor just a second behind.
Mohamud Aaden looked strong and smooth as he led much of the race in the 3000m but found 2 fast finishers too much to hold in the final 200m. However, his 8:20.67 was still a fine performance and only 2 seconds outside his outdoor best. In the B race Chris Smith returned to the track having established himself as a Mountain Runner of the highest calibre. He produced a fine show of pace that will stand him in good stead for his upcoming international Mountain race in Wales. He was second in 8:34.28, which was a lifetime best by 0.01 seconds over his previous best time set back in 2008.
With Panos Bekiardis unavailable Jason Comissiong ran the A string 110m hurdles and, despite not training for the event, produced a lifetime best of 15.39 to snatch 3rd place. His start and first 3 hurdles were ungainly but as he reached top speed his momentum carried him through the field and he closed to within a stride or 2 of the 2nd placer. Casper Donnison ran 19.68 for a near pb in the B event and at 6’4” he is built for the event. With a little technique work could take 2 seconds or more from that time.
The 400m hurdles saw another great performance from Chris McAlister who seems to be able to run sub 53 seconds at will these days. Unfortunately, he was just pipped today in a desperately close race. With a handful of lifetime best performances this season Chris had established himself as a championship performer and with another good winter behind him is sure to take further chunks off his best time and climb from his current 26th place towards the top of the national rankings.
Casper Donnison looked impressive for the first 6 hurdles but his lack of technique meant unbalanced landings and he just lost out in a 3-way race for 4th, finishing in 60.93 for 6th. Again with a winter of technique work and speed endurance Casper can knock seconds from his pb next season.
Antonio Silva made an unexpected appearance in the 3000m steeplechase. Better known in the Valley as a class 3000m/5000m/10000m runner he started at a blistering pace and was clear of the field after 200m by a good 20 metres. Anyone else doing this might have raised concerns but we know how good Antonio is and he simply continued to run away from the chasing pack, eventually winning by 24 seconds in 9:30.6. Antonio has shown himself to be a talented and gritty competitor and we look forward to seeing how he makes his mark over the country and road this winter.
Andrew Mitchell came along to Kingston to support the team and hopefully witness the Valley winning the Division and returning to Division 1. That was before Paul Oppe spotted him and asked him to run the 3000m steeplechase to replace Andrew Hennessy, who had had to withdraw. “Well, yes, OK” was the reply and Andrew proceeded to make his debut as a British League team member and as a steeplechaser. He needn’t have worried as he started steadily and worked his way through the back markers to finish a creditable 4th in the B race in 11:12.7. “ I can’t say I enjoyed that” said Andrew afterwards but added “but I enjoyed having done it”. Another example of the willingness of Valley men to step up to the mark when required; Andrew earned 6 points and we only won by 20!!
The field events again produced outstanding performances from each end of the age spectrum from 15 year-old High Jumper Toni Ademuwagan to club stalwart 51 year-old Steve Whyte. Steve produced a season’s best of 51.54m to finish 3rd in the A string Hammer, handily beating rivals Harrow and Kingston Poly. Steve is now off to Lyon to represent UK in the World Masters Championships in the Throws Pentathlon where he is World Record Holder in the 50+ age group. However, this was not before Steve had also grabbed 5th place in the A String in 39.52m and 5th in the A String Shot with 11.95m. If you add to this to the fact that he has also swum the English Channel and thrown internationally for Scotland you can see what an impressive athlete he is!
Steve was backed up by training partner Dave Burrell, whose 41.34m Hammer earned him 3rd in the B event, and his 35.04m Discus also saw him in 3rd place. Both performance were close to his season’s best and as a coach to son Jamie Potton-Burrell and others were are fortunate to be able to call on Dave to make time in his busy schedule.
With Jon Harvey missing with achilles problems, Jason Comissiong threw a near-pb of 49.43m to take 4th in the Javelin and Dawid Jerzykowski briefly held a new pb as his 44.90m distance was initially recorded as 54.90m. Dawid quickly corrected the officials but his 44.90m, whilst below his best of the season, was still good enough to earn him 3rd place in the B Javelin event.
As previously mentioned Ogo Anochirionye jumped a lifetime best of 7.16m to grab second in the Long Jump. Ogo has jumped consistently all season and has been rewarded with jumping outdoor PBs three times this year. Joe Steele was just short of 7m with 6.98m to win the B event. Joe has had a long battle back from injury and, having jumped an encouraging 7.21m in the Derby match was just a bit flat having just started training full out with a view to the 2016 season. We wish Joe good luck over the winter and hope that he can start to fulfil his immense talent next season.
Ever consistent, Nav Childs earned 2nd place in the Triple Jump A string event with 14.11m on a day that saw all jumpers suffer in the hot and humid conditions and he was well supported by Stephen Edwards , whose 13.72m won him the B event by 2cm.
With Greg Conlon in Lyon for the World Masters Championships (and jumping and amazing 4.50m) the Pole Vault saw the debut into the British League team for Erik Troop. Erik jumped 4.03m for an outdoor pb to finish 5th in the A event, and, with ever reliable Stan Vilga jumping 3.43m for 4th in the B event we earned good and valuable points in an event where we have struggled in recent years.
Michael Adenkule reached a season’s best of 1.88m to finish 5th in the High Jump A string, which brings us to the lower end of the age groups with 15 year-old Toni Ademuwagan making his British League debut. As a new member to the club and a young athlete Toni has made dramatic progress over the summer and has raised his lifetime best from 1.65m last year successively to 1.80m before today. On the day Toni stepped up to the mark and, against senior competition, jumped a new lifetime best of 1.83m to gain 3rd place in the B string event. Toni is a quiet and likeable young man and clearly very a talented jumper. With Michael continuing to improve his performance and with Toni jumping 1.83m as an U17, and U15 Tiger Brewer jumping 1.79m the future for the High Jump in the club is starting to look promising.
The 4x100m team saw injury withdrawals from Nigel Thomas and Leroy Cain but with Lumar Sylvestre available and back on the road to recovery and training partner, the ever reliable Chakka Maillot, stepping in to join Ogo Anochirionye and Jason Comissiong we not only got the baton safely round but minimised the loss to 2 points on Harrow who fancied their chances to win this event and close the gap on us. Having not run together as a team this was a good performance with a flying anchor leg from Jason Comissiong that saw him rip through the middle of the field to snatch 3rd place and close out a fantastic day at the office.
The 4x400m was again a very exciting race that saw Andrew Ajube run a great opening leg of 50.6 and handing on to Luke Lennon_Ford who, despite running with a painful shin injury , brought the club home in the lead with a 48.6 split and handing on to Omar Hutchinson who held the lead with a 49.6 second split (1.5 seconds faster than his earlier individual run). Chris McAlister took over a slender lead from Theo Campbell of Bristol who had a point to prove having been disqualified for a false start in the individual 400m race. At about 6’4” he towered over Chris and it looked all over as he strode into the lead by 200m and most thought he was cruising to victory. Nobody told Chris any of that and he started to fight back with 150m to go and, with the whole Valley team screaming support, he continued to inch closer as the line approached but just ran out of track as he closed to within 0.2 seconds of the flagging Bristol runner to clock an impressive 49.0 seconds split to seal the match and the Divisional Championship.
For once Team Manager, Paul Oppe, was happy to have an early bath as the team carried him ceremonially around the track before dumping him unceremoniously into the water jump in accordance with tradition.
Once towelled down afterwards Paul Oppe said “Wow, what a season! We had our ups and down over the course of the summer but we have a great group of guys and I was always able to call on willing volunteers to step up to the plate when we had a gap. With the talent that we have in the club we were always too strong for this Division and with this team we are strong enough to gain promotion next year to the Premier Division where we belong! I must thank the whole management team for their help and support over the season. Like the athletes, we work as a team and we‘ve all had a fantastic year. Now I’m going for a pint and a long rest!!”
8 August 2015