Super win treble from Cathy Ansell leads HHH women to national league promotion

HHH went into our final UK Women’s Athletics League match at the top of Division 3, the 4th tier when a Premier division is taken into account, with the slenderest of leads akin to a football goal difference over our 2 closest rivals, Crawley and Reading. With 2 teams promoted it was to be a tense afternoon during which every point would count and some team members would be required to go the extra mile to allow us to achieve our holy grail.

Indeed our shining star distance runner Cathy Ansell went an extra 2 kilometres for the cause and with barriers to negotiate too, as after great wins already in both the 3000m (9.51.1) and 1500m (4.44.9), Cathy’s optional extra was the 2000m steeplechase. This is not an event to run with tired legs, but Cathy is in great shape and took it in her stride, with the exception of some water jumps which need a little refining, and Cathy not only beat a good specialist opponent but also set a new division and HHH club record of 7.12.1. The end result of a great team effort by not just one woman and over 3 matches was 2nd place in the division and a superbly well earned promotion to a Division 2 which next year will comprise 8 teams from the South of England that will please our club treasurer from a travel costs perspective.

If Cathy was so very good, some other team members played their part with our classy A sprinters Denise Osei in the 100m (12.0) and Funto Fabunmi-Alade (24.6) in the 200m both scoring resounding wins, backed up by Shanice Harrison winning the B 100m (12.5) and placing 2nd in the B 200m (25.4). Ros Kieran trains a lot with Cathy and used her strength to give us a win double in the 3000m as her B string with 10.33.5, while in the field events we recorded just one win, courtesy of David Beckham’s nomination as London 2012 torchbearer Gabriella Roseje in the B shot with 11.00m.

With relatively few wins 2nd and 3rd placings were especially vital to ensure a good team score. Jess Knight will have not been greatly pleased by her 57.8 A 400m run but her points were valuable and valued, as were those scored by other runners up Briony Philips in the A shot (11.73m), Rebecca Zelic with a legal PB in the A triple jump of 10.85m and our quality sprint relay team of Shanice, Funto, Michelle Watson and Denise who took the baton round in 49.1 but were still pipped by an efficient Crawley quartet which in many ways encapsulated their own team’s match winning performance.

HHH 3rd placers included Aisha Naibe-Wey in the A 400m hurdles (68.4), Rebecca in the B 100m hurdles (16.7), Rosa Williams in the A pole vault and our 4 x 400m relay team of Jess, Shanice, Aisha and Funto who recorded 4.02.9, one of the quicker times posted by a 4 lap foursome in the HHH annals.

But the team ethic behind this fabulous promotion cannot be emphasised enough, not just on the long trip to Leeds, but also at the previous fixture at Crawley where our “normal” team was decimated by other commitments such as English Schools and World Youth Championship representation to name but two overriding claims on our best athletes’ availability on that day. Every single team member in all 3 matches of our successful campaign has played their part in a triumph that elevates us to our highest ever women’s position in national league athletics. Our men’s British League team also have realistic hopes of a promotion that would bring us our men’s highest ever position but there is still much work to be done in 2 more fixtures before our dream of emulating our women’s great achievement can be brought to fruition. Well done to all connected with the HHH women’s team management and especially to team managers Michael Bond and Steve Bosley and also the very fine coaches who have played such a great part in making this great result possible.

Geoff Jerwood.