Both Herne Hill Veterans track & field teams were ‘on show’ again at Perivale track, West London.
It was the evening of England’s football semi-final, Wednesday 7th July, which might have perturbed a few from attending participative sport, but those that wanted still competed and enjoyed all but the first half of England’s protracted and deserved semi-final success at a local hostelry.
The afternoon humidity and clouds cleared as the setting sun warmed the athletes at the east end of Perivale stadium. The shaded west end remained cool as it sits in the shadow of the adjacent tall trees, which attempt to dull the rumble of the nearby A40 traffic at this most agreeable of venues.
Pride of performance again resides with our HHH women, where amazingly a similar Feisty Five (to the Hillingdon match) took a full-on approach to the programme, covering all events and places, but one (for which I, as team manager, was culpable of not asking Nikki Sturzaker to cover yet a further event of the six she had already volunteered herself!). And it pains me to say my error caused the ladies to come 2nd by a mere 3 meeting points which Nikki could have readily surpassed.
So, Nikki covered the mere five individual events (three 1sts in Shot, Javelin and W35B 800m) equalled by our only W50 athlete, Patrizia Gnoato, whose five events also included three 1st ‘s in 200m, High and Long Jumps), yet surpassed by our totally committed solitary W60 athlete, Gillian Wheeldon! Gillian also got her hat trick of 1st ’s (200m, Shot and Javelin) but took on the full W60 programme and a relay leg for 7 events!
Steph Mitchell put in her own sterling efforts winning both 200m and 800m at W35A and earning a 2nd filling in at High Jump before she had to leave early. New girl Allison Beck robustly followed suit in multi-eventing with three solid individual efforts for points, pride and PB’s.
No wonder our four remaining girls, Patti, Nikki, Gillian & Alison, toiled but persisted in the ultimate individual 3000m track event and followed that up with the other extreme of 4 x 100m relay legs. (I’m surprised they had any legs left at all!)
Well done ladies, but I’m sure you wished you had had some back-up as much as I did the following day. I trust you are all recovering well, and hope you can all forgive me for my error of judgement leading to your match 2nd place.
Our HHH men were welcomingly augmented by Kwei Sankofa, Garth Francis and Ben Paviour each scoring resounding team points to contribute to our best men’s performance of the divisional matches. Resurgent M60 sprinter Kwei upped his comeback to score 200m and Long Jump 1st and a 1st equal in the High Jump and closed a cobbled-together relay team with panache.
Garth got his 1st place in M50 Javelin whilst covered M60 Shot & High Jump for 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Ben’s seasonal debut provided great M35B 1st ‘s in both 800m and 3000m where our ever present Simon Coombes equalled that with M35A string double 1st.
Equally reliable M50 Gary Ironmonger augmented his intended racing with both relay leg and 3000m, getting three M50 1st ‘s from 800m, 200m and 3000m. (At the top age range of his age group, that man’s range of running talent is extraordinary.)
The solid back-up came from Glen Keegan and Andy Simms, happy to compete to put team points on the board, both covered three events apiece. Mark Bebbington continued his learning and enthusiasm for track racing with a fine a 2nd in the M60 800m in blustery conditions for such middle-distance racing. Trusty Mike Mann put his efforts into a solid team 3000m result. Whilst the injured Waldy Pauzers, certainly went against any hypothetical recommendation from his Olympics bound chiropractor who manipulated him that afternoon to throw the M60 Javelin just to say he had also competed (and earnt his beer viewing the post-match football).
The grand summation of those mens’ performances placed us 2nd, only a single meeting point behind winners Serpentine, our best mens’ team performance of the season.
Both team results were so near to a win, yet so far from what we can do and have done. A hearty thanks to all that turned up, competed and committed in the best, yet sporting, enthusiastic way possible.
West London’s Perivale, also seems so near yet so far for some of our athletes, (just as is Hillingdon of ‘match 2’ in our division).
If we are to compete effectively and win the divisional titles we shall certainly have to individually endure a little planned commitment, travelling to matches and trawl the pastures of South London (or anywhere else) to interest field athletes to join our RnB-hooped merry crew.
The will to enjoy, compete and win is there. In this sporting context, we want the reproduction (R-number) to be significant and get those competing veteran numbers up for the following season.
Enjoy your summer, with veterans’ individual competitions opening up opportunities everywhere!
Vets Team Manager.