Valley Men at Cardiff for Round 2 of BAL Premiership

The TVH men travelled to Cardiff for the 2nd British Athletics League fixture of the season, led by team managers Phil Wetton, Nav Childs and Chris McAlister and the most important and hardest working member of the team, physio Jade Smith-Brown with John Husbands and Geoff Hawes disappearing to officiate on field events.  It proved a difficult day with a much higher level of competition than the 1st fixture and a 7th place finish, but with many encouraging performances and with other athletes available the team are confident of better things to come in the remaining fixtures at Bedford and Hendon.

BAL Premiership Match 2 , Cardiff International  Stadium, Saturday June 2, 2018

Throws  –  the throws events again proved to be a crucial area for points scoring with  2nd place in the A string and 1st place in the B string in both the javelin and shot with the ever reliable Gavin Johnson-Assoon, Jack Swain,  Remco Goetheer and Craig Sturrock. In the javelin Gavin threw 66.71m and Jack 60.21m and in the shot  17.11m for Remco and exactly 15m for Craig.

The hammer featured the young and not so young  Sam Mace and Steve Whyte. Sam threw another big personal best 54.33m as he gets to grips with the heavier senior weight,  in a season when he is also throwing the junior weight, with 48.94m for the evergreen Steve. The discus also featured another big personal best 49.35m for James Hedger and 38.05m for Craig.   James has improved steadily from less than 45m a year ago and was rewarded with the Field Athlete of the Match award.

 Jumps – the competition ramped up a notch in match 2, in particular the horizontal jumps which saw a number of internationals athletes featuring from the larger clubs. The return of Ogo Anochirionye and Micheal Adekunle to the TVH BAL squad strengthened the team but it was still a tough day at the jumping office. In Pole Vault Stan Vilga and Antonio Borrallo paired up as in the first match. Stan cleared 3.83m easily and narrowly missed a 4.03m attempt on his personal best. Antonio did not quite find the grove in this match and a was bit down on performances earlier in the season; that said the pair picked up 6th and 5th places which was a solid start. Long Jump saw another personal best from Subomi Onanuga of 6.59m and a very respectable 7.21m from Ogo in the A String which narrowly missed 3rd position by 7cms. Some of the bad luck from Pole Vault followed through to High Jump and saw Toni Ademuwagun no height at a starting height he would normally clear easily due to injury. Established BAL athlete Michael Adekunle cleared 1.88m and made solid attempts at 1.93m, hopefully a good building block for his aim of 2m plus this year. The triple Jump was again fiercely competitive, our two relatively junior athletes, Armani James and Joel Bright-Davies, dug in to achieve 7th and 6th against some very tough competition. Hopefully this will put them in good position for going 14.50m plus and 13.50m plus this year respectively.

Sprints – TVH were full of optimism going into match two: strengthened by the return of top sprinter Leroy Cain and a debut to youngster Keano Paris-Samuel. Once again, in one of the highest strength matches of the season, the famous Valley spirit was on full display – yet some bad luck on the day meant the excellent team effort was only enough for 7th place, dragging Valley into a relegation battle for the last two matches.

400 Hurdles  training buddies Andrew Ajube and Chris McAlister kicked off for Valley on the track in sensational style – Chris taking 2nd with a personal best 50.79 and Andrew taking a second PB in a week 4th in the B string (55.04).

Leroy and Keano were up next – running 100m into headwinds of around -2.0m/s is  not ideal but they did ran strongly against good quality opposition with 11.01 and 11.36 respectively; also served as an excellent warm up to the 200m later on that day.

Valley once again called upon the services of Florian Vogel and Jason Comissiong to cover the high hurdles. They both demonstrated their experience to negotiate their way through strong races and finish 6th and 5th respectively, with Jason running only a matter of minutes after arriving; who needs a warm up…

Valley’s bad luck for the day continued in the 400m with Luke Lennon Ford being DQ’d for a minor lane infringement – however his 4th place in the race was a sterling effort in another high class field. Chris Mac stepped up for the B string and managed a SB of 48.01 for second place.

The sprint kings returned next – over 200m this time. Another headwind spoilt the times a little – however Leroy and Keano managed 5th and 3rd, including a strong low 22 second clocking for youngster Keano. Both then returned for the 4x100m relay along with club stalwart Chaka Mallet and Subomi Onanuga. The Valley boys were going well to 200m until they were impeded by the incoming Newham runner, they finished strongly (although for much less than their efforts and talent deserved) and, despite team manager Phil Wetton running 200m from the stand to the back straight, we could not convince him it was a DQ. The athletics gods were against Valley today.

A final 8th place in the 4×400 does not tell the story either. Valley’s team was hurt by injuries but nevertheless started strong with Andrew Ajube putting in a fine shift on lead off with 50.9, putting valley middle field. Abdi and Florian put in strong performances but could not hold onto the stronger teams in a stacked relay field – our only hope was of catching match rivals Swansea. Luke overcame his disappointment to step up and put in the most heroic “I’ll jog a leg for you” the world has ever seen:

He hared after Swansea (at least 20m ahead), shutting down their man at a rate of knots. By 200 he was 5m down, by 300m he was level… then the Swansea runner began to fight back – a ding-dong battle ensued between them, but sadly Luke’s heroic run was not quite enough.

Congratulations to Leroy Cain, who overcame a strong hit of hay fever to compete in three events and earn Club Man of the Match!

Middle Distance –  Saturday’s middle distance races saw an improvement in times from most of the Valley men in relation to the first match, though the rest of the field also raised their game to produce faster times at Cardiff.

It was good to see a number of athletes making their Valley debut including twins Paulos Surafel (800m and 1500m) and Petros Surafel (5000m), along with Jordan Rowe in the 1500m. It was also encouraging to see two PBs for TVH athletes on the day, including a long overdue improvement for Paulos Surafel in the 800m with a time of 1:54.47, and yet another pb for Michael Cameron in the 3000m steeplechase, whose time of 9:34.98 took over 5 seconds off his pb and earned him the Track Man of the Match award.

Making his TVH debut in the 800m Paulos Surafel found himself in a fast race with the first 4 across the line all recording times of 1:51, and having not raced over the distance for 3 years Paulos acquitted himself well to improve his 4 year old pb by over 2 seconds with a time of 1:54.47 to gain 4 points in the A string race.

Back in more familiar territory in the 1500m Paulos shadowed the leaders up until the bell and moved through the gears on the last lap to finish in 5th place in the A string race in a time of 3:54.32, less than 3 seconds away from the race winner.

With hardly any speed work in training so far this season we can expect to see Paulos running faster over both distances as the season progresses and he is sure to be a valuable member of the team.

After an excellent BAL debut over 800m at the first match Abdi Mohamed was back for another taste of British League action at Cardiff, with the main difference at Cardiff being that he was now racing during Ramadan. He had been fasting for the days before the race and only broke his fast for Saturday’s race and did well to record a time of 1:58.79 for a point in a close B string race, where there was just over 4 seconds between all 8 athletes.

Joining Paulos in the 1500m was another new member to the team, Jordan Rowe, who relished the chance to prove what he can do in the BAL Premiership. In his first race over the distance this year he showed signs of what we can expect to see this season, with an excellent change of pace to go past at least 3 athletes in the final 200m for a very good 3rd place finish in the B string race in a time of 3:59.71.   Jordan is in a similar position to Paulos in that he still has to add some speed work to his training and will also race himself into faster times over the summer, which bodes well for the 800m and 1500m this  season.

It has been exciting to watch Michael Cameron’s progress in the 3000m steeplechase so far this year and he once again raised the bar on Saturday with another improvement of over 5 seconds to his pb time to record a time of 9:34.98 for 6th place in the A string race. The fact that this came only 3 days after he ran almost a 6 second pb in a 1500m at Watford with a time of 3:58.90 shows just what great potential he has to improve further during this summer.

Making his first BAL appearance this season and racing in the 3000m steeplechase Rob Vallance did well to keep a good gap between himself and those chasing him in the B string race, to earn a hard fought 4 points for 5th place in a time of 10:09.17.  With further work in training Rob looks set to go below 10 minutes in his next race over the distance.

Having seen Paulos wear the Valley vest in the 800m and 1500m it was the turn of twin brother Petros to pull on the vest to make his debut in the 5000m. After a slow start to the race the pace soon began to pick-up and Petros looked comfortable sitting in with a group of 5 athletes who had broken away with just a lap to go, and as they kicked again at the bell the leading 2 athletes were able to break away and Petros fought hard to the finish line for 5th place in the A string race in a time of 14:23.12.

It speaks a lot of Petros’ high standards that he was disappointed after the race, having ran a time of 14:08.24 in the British Universities Championships in May it would have been good enough to win Saturday’s race by 6 seconds, so expect to see him come back much stronger and faster next race as he will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

More accustomed to racing over 1500m on the track, a good 16 minute 5k split time in the London Vitality 10k on the streets of London the previous Monday earned Conor Kisane-Wood a place in the 5000m on Saturday. While racing on his own in warm conditions for most of the race, Conor showed a good sense of pace to record a good time of 15:32.47 to finish in 6th place in the B string race, in a very good debut performance over 5000m on the track.

BAL Premiership Match 2 Result :

PositionTeamMatch PointsLeague Points
1Birchfield Harriers3378
2Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers3087
3Woodford Green w Essex Ladies2996
4City of Sheffield & Dearne AC273.55
5Newham & Essex Beagles AC272.54
6Cardiff AAC264.53
7Thames Valley Harriers226.52
8Swansea Harriers2131

BAL Premiership Standings After 2 Matches :

PositionTeamLeague PointsMatch Points
1Birchfield Harriers16682
2City of Sheffield & Dearne AC12591.5
3Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers12567
4Woodford Green w Essex Ladies9545
5Cardiff AAC9544.5
6Newham & Essex Beagles AC6514.5
7Thames Valley Harriers6476.5
8Swansea Harriers2449