TVH Win First British League Match of the Season at Watford

BAL Division 1 2016 Watford TVH Team

What a day for the Valley! Having been promoted to Division 1 we were concerned that there would be a significant jump in the standard of opposition and, despite having some exciting new signings, that we may face stiff challenges over the season.

Peter Browne reports: 

As the day started in warm sunshine and little wind it really felt like we were still riding on the crest of the wave that started last year and the enthusiasm and commitment of the team was as high as ever. The result was that not only did we win the match but we did so by over 20 clear points from Southampton, despite having some key athletes missing and some bad luck.

On a day that was almost perfect for athletics (with only a brief summer shower) there were some outstanding performances on the track and field. We had 5 A string wins and 5 B string wins but the story was really about the overall team effort and every point scored was important with the result not becoming clear cut until the final 2 events.

Chris McAlister was simply amazing with his 400m Hurdles time of 50.88 putting him 5th on the UK rankings for the season and giving him a win by 2.3 seconds. Chris has continued his incredible trend of last season where he ran consecutive personal bests in every one of his opening races. His pb from 2015 was 52.65 but he has run 51.79, 51.73, 51.33 and now 50.88 this season and is fast closing on the club record of 50.45 held by TVH legend Eddie Betts. Not satisfied with this massive pb in the 400m Hurdles Chris came back to run another pb in the flat 400m with a tremendous finishing burst to finish 3rd in a really classy race. His time of 47.57 represented another massive chunk off his previous best of 48.14 run indoors this winter and an incredible 1.35 seconds quicker than his best of last season. Not surprisingly this won Chris the TVH Track Man of the Match award.

The TVH Field Man of the Match award was won by Remco Goetheer, our new signing from Holland and friend of Erik Van Vreumigan (current club record holder at 19.61m). Remco quickly established himself as a popular and talented member of the team with an impressive opening performance of 17.25m in the Shot, which easily won the event by over 1.5m. Remco had already amassed big points in his less favoured event, the Discus. The other major contender for this award was Ogo Anochirionye, whose 7.34m Long Jump equally his lifetime best, which placed him 3rd in the Long Jump. We are sure to see Ogo return later in the season to earn his own Man of the Match award.

The TVH Club Man of the Match award was also difficult to select as there were several contenders. Paskar Owor and Keiron Sexton both excelled in the 800m and 1500m, Stan Vilga again volunteered for the 110m Hurdles having completed his Pole Vault, Mark Dyble was his usual helpful and flexible self in switching relays, Nav Childs covered an unfamiliar 400m leg of the relay after the Long Jump and Triple Jump and Craig Sturrock, our new signing from Gateshead threw impressively in the Shot and Discus. However, the award went to Leroy Cain for his near pbs in the 100m (10.69), and 200m (21.57) and the manner in which he fought hard for every point in both races. We can expect much more from this young man over the coming season.

New signing from Milton Keynes, Subomi Onanuga, also sparkled in the 100m B race with an impressively smooth win in 10.79 that represents a lifetime best electronic time.

The 200m also proved to be classy races with Leroy Cain again finishing strongly to snatch 2nd place in 21.57 (same time as the 3rd placer), which is only 0.02 outside his lifetime best. Again, with this sort of time in his first race of the season it is exciting to look forward to what he can produce later.

Mark Dyble also ran a great race from the unfavoured lane 1 and his time of 22.32 in 3rd place in the 200m B race was a season’s best and another step back towards his target of sub 22 seconds this season.

The 400m was an amazing display from Chris McAlister as he just seemed to change gear at 200m having had a steady looking start. He really started to motor in the last 150m and was closing on everyone in the home straight to finish 3rd in a new lifetime best of 47.57, his first time under 48.0 seconds and only 3 metres down on the winner. Not bad considering he had already won the 400m Hurdles in fantastic fashion. He currently seems to be able to run faster than ever every time out!

Andrew Ajube is steadily getting back into form and his 51.62 for 6th place in the 400m B race was a season’s best and another step towards sub 50 second territory. With our No1 400m runner, Luke Lennon-Ford still to open his outdoor campaign things are looking good for the rest of the season over 1 lap.

With Myles Edwards out with a knee injury, Paskar Owor and Kieron Sexton stepped up to the mark with Paskar running a very canny race in the 1500m to win with a really determined last lap and run away from the Southampton and Enfield runners over the last 150m. The time was 3:58.72 but the nature of the win was even more impressive. Paskar had already finished 6th in a tactical 800m race in 1:56.16 but he has not really concentrated on his track speed yet with his winter focus on cross country and road race. However, his ability and determination are certain to continue to shine through over the summer.

Kieron Sexton was delighted to run a lifetime best in the 800m with his time of 1:55.85 placing him 2nd in the B race and just 0.3 seconds behind the winner in a typical gutsy performance. Keiron has had a good winter with Dave Wilkinson’s middle distance group and is looking to build on his current form. The 1500m was a big ask for Keiron following his outstanding 800m race but he stuck to his task and earned valuable points in the 1500m B race, finishing in 5th place with 4:18.50.

Mo Aadan and Antonio Silva were again looking good for big points in the 3000m. Mo really took the race on from the first lap and surprised the field by running at sub 8:10 pace for the opening laps and he just kept going alone and although he was not quite able to break his lifetime best of 8:14.4 he did improve his outdoor best by 3 seconds to win in 8:15.56. Antonio seemed to be caught out and let a small gap open on the first lap and was running alone for most of the race in second place. The field gradually clawed back the gap and Antonio was in a real race for the last 2 laps but showed his characteristic grit and determination to pull away on the final lap to record a very creditable 8:27.18 to win the B race in a hard fought finish.

The 110m Hurdles proved to be another high class race that saw Panos Bekiardis run close to his best with 15.09 for 4th place. This is his second season with the club and he is proving to be a popular and valuable club member.

Unfortunately, Jason Comissiong was injured and unable to compete but Stan Vilga again stepped in to cover the event and earn valuable points for 5th in the B race.

The 400m Hurdles was without doubt the best performance of the day as Chris McAlister blew the rest of the field away and took his best time down below 51 seconds. His winning time of 50.88 boosts him to 5th in the UK for the year and puts him in contention for international selections later in the season. Chris started fast and simply kept running at the same pace. It was a majestic performance and he is fast closing in on the club record of 50.45 held by TVH legend and stalwart Eddie Betts. Great performance and great clubman!!

Club Team Captain Caspar Donnison again produced a gutsy performance in the 400m Hurdles  B race but just failed to crack 60 seconds (60.1) but it was a gritty battling performance for 6th place in the B race.

In the Steeplechase work commitments prevented Andy Hennessy and others from competing, leaving Robert Vallance as our sole representative. Robert was running his 3rd steeplechase in a week, having cracked 10:00 for the first time last weekend but started a little too enthusiastically and suffered mid-race before recovering his form and finishing in fine style to finish in 5th place in 10:06.23, still close to his pb.

In the field Ogo Anochirionye pulled out a massive 7:34m jump to match his recent pb in the Long Jump and was leading the event in the final round only to see two others produce even better jumps. However, it is greatly encouraging to see Ogo gain this level of consistency and performance and all looks good for the future.

Nav Childs was a little below par in the Long Jump but still managed to jump 6.05m to finish 6th in the B event before returning to his more favoured Triple Jump where his 14.48m was a season’s best and earned him 3rd place. Stephen Edwards was recovering from a back injury but was thankfully pain-free after 13.22m to gain 2nd place in the B string Triple Jump.

The Pole Vault saw Erik Tropp performing well and he was close to his best height as he cleared 4.00m for 4th place with Stan Vilga producing another solid performance with 3.60m to gain 2nd in the B event.

Although still only 15 Toni Ademuwagun equalled his lifetime best of 1.85m in a high quality high jump competition that saw 4 jumpers over 2 metres. Toni has an incredible future and we are all looking forward to seeing his talent develop as he is already ranked in the top 20 in the UK for his age group. Odell Okwuosa is also a young athlete but better known as a Long Jumper and Triple Jumper, although he agreed to cover the High Jump for the club in the absence of club No1 Michael Adekunle who was busy revising for exams.

Jamie Potton-Burrell threw 54.36m in the hammer, which was his third longest ever, to win the Hammer and followed his lifetime best of 55.43 last week. It is particularly impressive in view of the fact that he is still only 20 in an event where throwers normally peak much later. Jamie was joined by super-vet Steve Whyte who threw an amazing 50.01m to win the B event by almost 7 metres!

The Shot and Discus saw two new members take massive points as Remco Goetheer and Craig Sturrock dominated these events. Remco is a young Dutch thrower who came to us via club record holder Erik Van Vreumigan and is proving to be a great addition to the squad. Craig joined us this season following the withdrawal from the British League of his old club Gateshead Harriers and has also fitted in easily to the Valley’s team. Both are enthusiastic and committed throwers and show all the signs of becoming long term stalwarts. Remco won the Shot with 17.25m and the B string Discus with 39.23m with the Shot being a winning distance by over 1.5m and the Discus by almost 3 metres. Craig Sturrock was also in top form as he took 2nd in the A string Discus with 41.61m and won the B string Shot with 15.14m, winning by over 3.5 metres. It is really great to see TVH throwers in such commanding form and we look forward to more big results over the rest of the season.

Jon Harvey was again our number one Javelin thrower where his 49.78m earned him 5th place in the A event and Dawid Jerzykowski threw 46.63m to claim 2nd place in the B event.

The 4x100m team had been decimated by the loss of sprinters in the days before and on the day of the match. However, we managed to get a solid looking team together but it was not to be as we didn’t manage to get the baton round due at least in part to putting together people who had not run relays together. Although this was a worry at the time the team had managed to amass enough points to stay well clear of the opposition with only the 4x400m relay to go.

It was a similar story with losing 400m runners along the way but by using Lloyd King, who is returning to the team after a break, Andrew Ajube and the ever helpful Mark Dyble we were still one short until Nav Childs stepped up to the mark yet again.

The team splits were quite impressive as Mark ran 51.6 from blocks on leg 1, Lloyd King ran a fine 49.8 split, Nav clocked 52.9 (not bad for a Long/Triple Jump specialist) and Andrew ran 50.4 for 4thplace in an overall time of 3:24.66.

Overall it was a great day with the usual ups and downs but the well-known Valley spirit shone through and the team all worked together for a fantastic result. We are all now looking forward to another great performance at our next match at home at Linford Christie Stadium on 4 June.

BAL Match 1, Saturday 7 May, Watford


League PointsMatch Points
Thames Valley Harriers8339
Enfield & Haringey6295
Herne Hill3263