On Saturday 2 August a contingent of Nene Valley athletes travelled down to Portsmouth for the final league match of Division 1 of the Southern Athletics League. Best wishes are sent to Roger, Deb and Matt Hudson who were involved in a car crash on the way down Friday evening, we hope you are all feeling better and on the road to recovery.
Thank you for the other's who travelled; both those to compete and those to officiate, especially Gary Huskisson and Andy Hughes who ended up assisting in the field officiating all day, Andrea Chapman our track official for the whole day and finally our father and son team of Jon and Jonathon Stokes (grandfather and father of Ellie Mae). The interchangeable weather suffered by all was summed up by starting and finishing the ladies shot putt in bright sunshine with half the competition competed in a downpour. The athletes tried impressively hard to compete with everything Portsmouth, Southampton and Havering could throw at them and battled well to a fourth place finish which was just sufficient to avoid relegation.
Team spirit shone through from the start. Decathlete David Bush swapping spike for throwing shoes to compete in the shot putt and 400m hurdles at the same time winning the hurdles along with Phil Wilson winning the B string whilst at the same time finishing second in the shot putt.
This same attitude was shown by Devon Spencer who having completed her win in the triple jump followed it up by throwing the discus and jumping over the high jump bar at the same time. It may be a slight exaggeration but she did not have time to remove her spikes after the triple jump, as she came over to the discuss, took her throw and then went straight to the event next door and went over the high jump. These were valuable points for the club and very commendable performances.
The club decathletes and pole vaulters appeared to be attempting to cover as many laps, throw as many objects or jump over everything and anything available at the Portsmouth track. Every time you looked up, Pete Lewis (Pole Vault) running an 800m, Adam Fidgett (decathlete) going round in circles and covering just under 6 miles whilst scoring in the 1,500m, 5,000m, 2,000m steeple chase and the comparatively short 800m or David Bush competing in seven events most involving jumping or throwing plus running a relay leg.
Other athletes also stepped into events in order to help the club pick up valuable points and no compaints about stepping on to cover missing athletes. Leigh Ann Rose (under 17) and Tash Segal stepping into the 800m, Tash as a warm up for her 400m straight afterwards in which she picked up a commendable second place. Leigh Ann then running a 1,500m steeplechase and running strong enough in her first season in the event to beat both Portsmouth's scoring athletes. Tash also went on to record second place in the 200m and stepped up to the mark to assist both relay teams to second place scoring a massive 13 points.
Lily Hughes was another athlete who arrived on the day and willingly stepped into compete in additional events. the 100m and 200m sprinter claimed second and first places in those A string events but also volunteered to claim a fourth place in the shot putt, and assist both relays teams to second places - "I've not done a 400m before but I'll give it a go". Young Megan Pusey who only found out she was going to have to run a scoring 400m when an athlete failed to turn up on the day but undaunted she went out and won the B string with a decent time considering the weather. Megan was also a member of that second place 4x400m relay team along with Tash, Lily, and Cat Foley.
Sean Reidy followed David Bush's hurdling example in the 110m hurdles or more truthfully , David followed Sean in after hitting the second hurdle hard, then the ground but getting back up to complete the ten barriers at the second attempt. Sean showed his and the team competitive nature after hitting the ninth hurdle and virtually somersaulting over the last one as a result - flash beggars.
Emily Maltby, once again competing in her maximum number of events permitted even pleaded to be able to do more. Emily picked up good wins in her main event the triple jump and the 100m hurdles which she has stepped into following the injury to our top hurdler six weeks ago. She also achieved second place in the 100m flat sprint and point sin the long and high jumps. Ellie Mae Stokes also stepped up for the hurdles and proceeded to win the B string race. Ellie Mae was the fourth member of the 4x100m team which claimed second place along with Lily, Tash and Devon.
Kelly Lawrence continued to be the clubs top scoring senior lady with good points in all four throwing events, similarly Cat Foley, Emma Penniston and Yolanda Gratton who compete the distance events for the team.
Unfortunately at the end of the day the men's 4x400m team had clearly been watching the Commonwealth Games too much and after discussing the fact that so many teams got disqualified for starting outside the blue box tested the theory themselves with the same result - at least officials are consistent. This did mean that the team finished fourth on the day but we have since found out that our 11th place finish in the top division was sufficient to ensure top flight competition next season for our ladies and men's combined team. A great team effort with a good result at the end, well done to all those competing.
Good luck to the men at Abingdon next Saturday for the British Athletics League.
Thanks to all who have helped and competed this season
Ken Maggs and Tim Needham - Ladies and men's team mangers