BAL men do a grand job but another weak HHH team struggles in Southern Athletics League

The fact that significant and willing competitors from the HHH BAL men’s team were prepared to turn out and do extra events meant we were a close 3rd in a match where we needed to be second. The team finally selected on Friday night would have been a comfortable second place.  Sadly I have to report that putting that team together was very hard work.

There is a strange reluctance to compete. Athletes selected failed to show up and did not inform coaches or the TM beforehand. There was a significant lack of response from some coaches and athletes who were contacted directly. One athlete was asked if he wanted to compete and replied that he would need to ask his coach. I replied that when I was in regular competition, it was my choice to compete and I did not need my coach’s permission. Why is the tail wagging the dog? A week later the same athlete indicated that he would compete, however he, his training partner and his coach failed to respond to a series of texts for confirmation. Some athletes showed up to run a non-scoring race and then go home.  There were other genuine reasons for some dropping out but there is no doubt that what I can only describe as a lack of commitment and lack of curtesy is making the role of being Team Manager very frustrating. If belonging to a club is not about turning out with your team mates and performing to the best of your ability and often doing a little bit extra, then I fail to understand what it is about.

The other side of that coin is the great sense of camaraderie that was generated by all the athletes that were present. They performed beyond expectation. I believe in those people. Despite my annoyance, those athletes brought a sense of joy to my day. We, as a group pulled together and shouted each other on. The younger athletes really stepped up again in support of the seniors.

BAL man Tom Ashby led the way with 7 events which included good wins in the 110H in 15.5, the B LJ with 6.75, the A TJ with 13.60, the A string Discus with 43.49 and the Javelin with 47.85. In the last event, U17, Alex Tischler threw 41.89 with the senior implement to win the B string and place overall second against the other men in the competition. A fine effort!

Eugene Osei-Amevenu competed in 4 events, along the way he won both the   A string sprints in 11.0 and 22.4; both tough races where he had to grit it out all the way to the line. Peter Phillips pulled out two good wins, in the B string 200 with 22.0 and the B string 400 in 49.5. Peter was second in that race to Nick Atwell (48.50 and the 4 x 100) and the timekeepers were as usual very mean, both Geoff and I got him at much closer to 48.0. However Nick ran a storming last leg of the relay in 47.33, going from last to 2nd. Nick took over from Seb Wilson Dyer Gough (55.39). Seb also did 4 other events, winning the A string LJ with 7.04 and the B string triple with 12.59. Sam Knight (64.0) had handed over Seb; he was on his 4th scoring event having equalled his PB in the HJ and set a new PB in the chase of 7.05.5. Mo Ismail ran the first leg (61.0); Mo was on his 3rd event, having run good 800 (2.06) and 1500m (4.18) races earlier in the hottest part of the day. All this was part of his preparation for another 4 or 5 races in the Vets League on the Monday.

In the throws, Michael Wheeler won the shot with 14.75 and Dejean Marshall-Brown (U20) won the B string with 11.37, bouncing back from his disappointment at missing out on the ESAA trip. Good Man! He also threw Discus and Hammer to rack up more points for the team. Spare a thought for Des Austin, who travelled miles just to fill a slot in the Hammer for us.

Meanwhile back on the track, star vet, Simon Coombes ran 4.12.6 for 1500m, in the heat, in preparation for his trip the European Masters Champs where he is gunning for a medal. The 5k boys found it tough. John Tayleur stepped up to 5k as a favour to Simon and ran a very good 16.39. In reasonable conditions, it would be a PB sort of run. Debutant Ben Thomas knocked 16 secs off his best with 16.53 in a race where he marshalled his resources intelligently.

The women were led by Track Captain Steph Mitchell, who as ever led by example. Steph started with a personally disappointing 800 race in a good field but bounced back within an hour to run a terrific 61.3 400 for 2nd place. Later she hauled tired limbs around 15oom and finished the afternoon with another impressive 400 in the long relay. In that same relay team, Michelle Watson battled round a long race for her having won the A string 200 in 25.3 and the B string 100 in 12.6. Michelle graciously stepped down from the A string 100, to allow Angel Asare to compete; she finished 2nd in 12.4, so a very good call. Michelle is so modest that she doubts that the UKWAL team could do with her service; what we see is a person who has no fear and will simply give all against anyone else that lines up alongside her.

Frances Hale ran really close to her PB in the 3k in very hot conditions, but it was the youngsters who really impressed. Tatiana Cooke ran a well- judged 1500, missing out on her target time with a slightly slower 3rd lap than was required, but dipping under 5 again with 4.59.5.  The old story for milers and 1500 runners.  The young steeplechasers produced thrilling performances. Katie Balme ran a PB 7.35 for 2nd place and executed her water jump clearances with great aplomb and confidence. Jemima ran a encouraging 8.23 to win the B string; she skips hurdles with real economy and only needs to work on the water clearance in order to make the next step.

After that we had so many gaps in the women’s jumps, hurdles and throws, despite the great efforts of Britli Francis (win in B string SP and 3 other events). That was where our team score really collapsed. Denisha Marshall Brown won the A string SP by nearly 2m with 11.57. In the end it was not enough.

So final scores were a win for Reading with 229 points, from Walton (199) and Herne Hill 175. North Devon scored 126 in 4th place.

We wait to see the league tables. Beyond that, we must look forward to the next 2 matches;

On Saturday July 8th we are at Aldershot and the ESAA champs are on the same day.

On Saturday August 19th we are at Lee Valley and the SEAA U17 champs are on the same day, with a BAL match the following day!

Both these clashes are going to take away athletes who have earned very good points for us.

As I have said before, we need to stay in this League. It’s going to require the commitment of the club members, SAL guys and ladies, vets, remaining U17 and U20s and what BAL people will support the cause. It’s going to require the support of the club coaches to actively promote the need of the club. It’s time to realise that someone else isn’t always going to do it. It must be you! It’s time to make sure that if you said that you will run, you will show up. It’s time for everybody to take responsibility for the welfare and wellbeing of our great club.

I am already putting together the team for that match and welcome volunteers from athletes and recommendations from coaches. Please feel free to contact me directly;

Steve Knight

Team Manager