TVH takes top spot in new National Athletics League opening match

National Athletics League, Match 1, Bromley, Sunday 6 June, 2021

The new National Athletics League finally got underway after many months’ delay, and the combined men’s and women’s TVH team delivered an impressive win in the first match at Bromley on Sunday. Excellent performances throughout the team amassed a total of 13 track and 11 field wins for the ladies, with 8 track and 7 field wins for the men.

There was a strong blend of youth and experience in the team on Sunday. 21 athletes, including 10 juniors, made their NAL debuts. TVH also welcomed three young new officials Natasha Mundell, Scott Brewer and Shami Umashankar, who along with our regular officials Dave & Marion Huffer, John Husbands and Roger Fitzgerald, ensured the team scored maximum officiating points.

Scoring maximum points was a theme of the day, the first event of the day was the hammer and TVH ladies scored maximum points. Pippa Wingate won the A string by nearly 10 metres with 60.17m. Katie Lambert took the B string victory with an excellent 52.48m; it was Katie’s first throws back since her father died suddenly less than two weeks before but, as always, Katie and her mother Debbie Lambert were there from the first to last event supporting the team. For a B string win and for being an amazing athlete and person, Katie won the TVH Field Athlete of the Match Award.

The heavy throws started the day off for the men with wins in the hammer for Jack Paget and Jamie Potton-Burrell. Jack was in good form with a best throw of 61.24m to match his season’s best throw and win the A string by over 16m, while Jamie recorded a best throw of 50.16m to win the B string by over 8 metres in his first competition for nearly 2 years.

TVH ladies’ scored maximum points in the individual sprints, winning all 100m, 200m and 400m races. Rachel Miller and Shannon Malone, in her first race for the club, both stopped the clock at 11.94 in the A string race. Annie Tagoe also dipped under 12s with 11.97 in the B string. Annie and Shannon combined well with debutant Adahan Ekoku and sprint hurdler Angelita Broadbelt Blake to bring the baton home safely in 2nd place in the 4x100m with a good opening relay of the season time 49.13.

Making her debut for the TVH team, Nicole Kendall not only ran a PB in the 400m hurdles, but also broke the club record and lowered Meegan Beesley’s league record from 2013 with a brilliant 56.32. Nicole also ran a strong first leg in the 4x400m. For the exceptional records, Nicole was awarded with the TVH Lady Track Athlete of the match award.

Meanwhile, Jessica Tappin easily won the 400m hurdles B string in 56.93, nearly 1s quicker than her PB from 2019, and followed up with another victory in the 200m B string with 24.59. She also produced a superb anchor leg in the 4x400m relay. For her maximum points for the team, Jessica Tappin was awarded TVH Club Lady of the Match trophy.

Zoey Clark joined us as she prepares for the British Championships at the end of the month in this important Olympic year. Zoey showed her class by storming to victory in the 400m with 51.99 and half an hour later was back on the track winning the 200m in 23.63. Linnea Killander ran away with victory in the 400m B string by 4 seconds with a good 55.45.

Having had a clean sweep of the one-lap races TVH ladies were red hot favourites for the 4x400m. The quartet of Nicole, Zoey, Linnea and Jessica provided a fitting finale to the women’s track events with their 3:35.12 taking nearly 4 seconds off the former club record set at the same venue in 2017. It is a time that eclipsed the England winning team at the Loughborough International and put TVH 2nd in the All Time lists – next target is Birchfield’s 3:34.56 from 2013.

Zoey Clark receives the baton from Nicole Kendall in the women’s 4×400

In the men’s 100m and 200m Keano Paris-Samuel, at just 22 years old was the elder statesman of the team and was supported by 2 junior athletes, Reece Earle and James Grindle, making their senior debuts. Keano lead the way with a 3rd place in the A string 100m and 2nd place in the A string 200m in season’s best times of 10.89 and 21.81. U17 athlete Reece Earle made an impressive debut to finish 2nd in the B string 100m in a fantastic time of 10.87, just outside his 10.85 pb. U20 athlete James Grindle won the battle of the juniors in the 200m B string race to finish in 3rd place in 22.61. They were joined in the men’s 4x100m relay by Luke Lennon-Ford to produce an impressive win in a time of 42.29. Concluding the men’s individual flat sprints U17 athlete Joel Houslin on his senior debut made a big improvement on his PB to win the non-scoring 200m in a time of 22.49.

Luke had a busy day on the track racing in the A string 400m and both relays. He was very close to winning the 400m finishing in 2nd place in a season’s best of 47.71s, while a win in the 4x100m and a strong final leg in the 4x400m won him the TVH Track Man of the Match trophy.

Andrew Ajube once again gave everything for the team, racing to 2nd place in the B string 400m hurdles in a season’s best 55.08, a leg of the 4x400m relay and stepping into the 400m B string race on short notice for 4th place in 52.10, all of which won him the TVH Club Man of the Match trophy.

In the middle distance, Basil Rock (U20) made his debut finishing in 2nd place in the B string 800m with a PB of 1:56.77. Amongst the women, Alex Mundell came 2nd in the A string with 2:12.38, her quickest time since 2011. Charlotte Buckley who is still only an U20 also ran strongly to finish 2nd in the B string race in 2:12.51. Winning the non-scoring race, was another U20 debutant who has come up through TVH’s junior ranks, Maddie Casey with a PB 2:16.45.

The men’s 1500m was dominated by TVH athletes, with 3 TVH men finishing in the top 4 of the race. Will Perkin was competing in his first track race for 2 years and made an impressive debut to win in a time of 3:54.39, while Niki Faulkner won the B string in a season’s best 3:56.76.

There was a clean sweep for the TVH steeplechase. The ladies ran unopposed in the 2000m steeplechase but did not let the lack of opposition prevent them from producing quick times. India Weir, who has returned from the USA in the form of her life, won with a PB of 6:56.75. Stephanie Ainley made a strong comeback from injury and was close to her best with 7:21.47. While Rosie Vallance sliced 18 seconds off her previous best finishing in 7:49.11. In the 3000m men’s steeplechase Richard Ollington led from the front to win in 9:15.87, and Oli Newton was a clear winner in the B string race to ensure maximum points in 9:53.39.

Rounding out events on the track, in the 3000m, Dan Mulryan just missed out in a sprint finish to cross the line in 2nd place in 8:33.32, and Antonio Silva gave another strong performance to win the B string in 8:40.29. Sarah Johnson ran a very competitive race finishing with her best time in over three years with 10:08.97 to finish 2nd in the A string. Having her first race back since hip surgery, Lisa da Silva ran strongly with her 11:00.87 to score maximum points in the B string.

Back to the field, with only 65 minutes between the women’s long and triple jump, it was a tough ask for club stalwart Angela Barrett. She did well to jump 5.51m for 4th place in the A string long jump and then come back out to win the triple jump with 12.44m. Lia Stephenson secured maximum points in the triple jump by winning the B string.

The pole vault saw the ladies claim another double victory, with two season’s best jumps by Clare Maurer (3.65m) and Shannon Connolly (3.00m). In the men’s competition, George Hopkins cleared a height of 4.20m to win the A string and maximum points on his TVH debut, while TVH veteran Stan Vilga enjoyed a great return to form after such a long break from competition jumping a height of 3.70m for 2nd place in the B string.

Good points were scored in the high jump. The ever-reliable Pippa Rogan cleared 1.80m to win the A string. Amelia Inglis in her first club competition did very well to equal her PB with 1.55m for 2nd in the B string. In a strong men’s competition Michael Adekunle made a good return to jumping and cleared a height of 1.90m to just miss out on 3rd place as he finished in 4th place in the A string. U17 athlete Noor-Eldin Mahmoud is yet another talented junior breaking into the senior team and after already jumping close to 2m this season his jump of 1.90m won the B string and maximum points for the team.

Amelia Strickler on her way to winning the shot

Back to the heavy throws, doubling-up in the shot and discus were Fraser Wright, Tomasz Napiorkowski and Emma Dakin. It was a good start on his full debut for Fraser who recorded 2 season’s best throws in a close competition for 2nd place in both the A string shot and discus with throws of 13.86m and 41.93m respectively. Tomasz was the clear winner in both the B string shot and discus, and his throws of 12.01m and 40.81m won him maximum points for the team. In her first ever throws for TVH Emma Dakin made a great start with two season’s bests of 39.11m in the discus for 3rd place in the A string and 12.48m in the shot easily claimed her victory in the shot. The final A string field victory for the ladies’ team came from another Olympic hopeful, Amelia Strickler, who dominated the shot as she won by over 2 metres with a put of 17.31m.

In the final field event of the day, the men’s javelin, Gavin Johnson-Assoon was in fine form and throwing close to his best with a consistent series of throws over 68m, his winning throw of 68.43m won the A string by over 10m and his performance also won him the TVH Field Man of the Match trophy.

What a brilliant team performance and the best team spirit from everyone. Thank you all athletes, officials, sports masseuse (Jade Smith Brown), photographers (Debbie Lambert and Richard Weir), coaches, team management, and to all the wonderful TVH supporters for being the best!

Final Score:

  1. Thames Valley Harriers 619
  2. Blackheath and Bromley   529
  3. Windsor Slough Eton & Houslow 483
  4. Southampton AC 375

The TVH team will be looking to build on this success as they will have home advantage when they host the second NAL match at Linford Christie Stadium on Saturday 3 July.