Southern Vets Track and Field Match 1 Battersea Park, Monday 13th May 2019
A train missed and another cancelled left the team manager late and unfocused. But the number of HHH athletes diligently preparing for competition rapidly upturned the distraction to a sense of keen optimism at Battersea track. That optimism was realised on the day but only truly came to light when the results were first declared. A storming win for the women’s team, which finally had the numbers needed as opposed to the skeleton squad of the previous year who had toiled so magnificently but to little avail. Our HHH men were equally plentiful and positively focused for the first mid-London vets match of the season. The men, too, ended up masters of the evening’s competition and exertions, which really did necessitate good numbers to cover the events and duly went on to win by the slim margin of 7 points.
For the Women’s meeting the Women’s Shot truly put the plot in place. Barbara Macanas and Sharon St. Luce gaining 1sts and Mairi Maclean a 3rd. Canny presence in the High Jump got Patti Gnoato and ever willing Hilary Sutcliffe another two 1sts, which left both Hillingdon and Serpentine already stricken by an 18 point gap to chase after two events!
The sprints were well covered, Alexandra Shamloll 2nd, Patti 1st again, Hilary and Barbara gamely getting the points in with two 5ths. We also welcomed Gillian Wheeldon back to competition and team support duties with a non-scoring 100m, then a 2km walk.
Penelope Cumming went marching on, leading the whole mixed race group home, obviously 1st and a personal best 10m50.8s in the 2km walk. Mandy Brown followed up with a 2nd place in the W50’s category. Serpies bettered our points by one, but Hillingdon zeroed on a blank entry for this event!
Patti was now jumping Long to get her 3rd victory of the evening with Mairi Maclean getting her 1st place in W50 with a super 3-53m leap. Whereas, Alexandra Shamloll and Nikki Sturzaker got in on the 1sts for their age category 400m races. Lucy Clapp kept the points ticking up with her game 4th place and Jane Krammer guested to ensure the RnB hoops were seen (& heard).
By now the wins were relentless, Barbara had another 1st in the W60 Discus with fine support from both Sharon and Mairi going down an age category for 2nd W50, and Mairi getting 4th W35. Lucy Clapp redeemed herself in a more natural event for her talents with 2nd in the W50 1500m. Firsts for Nikki Sturzaker and Ola Balme in the 1500m, and a storming 4 x 400m relay for yet another! We welcomed Dana Williamson to a debut 1500m and a 400m relay leg and it seems Dana prefers the 400m, though both performances were highly encouraging regarding effort and enthusiasm.
A fine start to the season with 12 first places. We still need to cover W60 events for which we have no track athletes but the quality of our squad seemingly needs to wait a year before we get help in that compartment! All three top teams left gaps which nominally evened out on the night. So let’s get to Hillingdon on the 10th June for a repeat performance to stay on track for a Southern Finals return. Well done HHH Women!
Now, meanwhile in a Parallel Universe at the same location and time our veteran men needed a bit more guile in selection, performance and events for what was knowingly foreseen to be a close call between 2018 champions Hillingdon, Serpies and our trusty HHHoops. We welcomed back a fitter, if not fully fit and slightly reticent M55 star Kwei Sankofa taking in a 100m n/s and 400m scoring by way of rehabilitation, a recovering and keen Gary Ironmonger, a resurgent Dion Panambalana and newcomer Mark Preskett who walked off with Waldy’s normal winning ways so that he could be best put to cover HJ, 400m and 1500m in the M60 category. Chris Carden was deployed as M60 sprinter, getting a 100m age pb, which got the blood pumping to an M60 Discus pb of 33-48m to boot, whilst another 60 y.o. Garth Francis launched the heavyweight Senior discus and shot to great effect, covering the youngest veteran category. Meanwhile, Dan Hallam also joined Waldy in the low High Jump team to mop up a few more points.
So, Discus began proceedings, Chris M60 1st (with that pb). Ever present, ever recovering, ever smiling Des Austin M50 1st, Garth 5th in M35 put us on equal footing with those champs from up North (well, North London). The four 100m categories garnered four 2nds thanks to Giuseppe Minetti, Paul Marriott, Dion Panambalana & Chris Carden, the three, all now M50’s but not that anyone would recognise. Five points up on Hillingdon with Serpies at seven behind.
And so we wiggled our way to improving that lead. Four seconds form four? The walkers showed ‘em, three wins from 3 categories, newcomer Mark Preskett, Andy Millbank and Robert Healey putting in the great work to increase our lead over Serpies by nine points and Hillingdon slipping six points further behind. Marcelo Fortes returned to racing ways, thoroughly enjoying his race and the supportive squad atmosphere at the match.
The High Jump was a low jumps shoe-in for Dan Hallam and Waldy Pauzers, as they both had 400m’s to cover at the same time. Paul Marriott go his 2nd M50 place at a very solid 1-40m, whilst Dan Hallam got a jump in before his 400m (4 points gained)! Waldy also squeezed in a 2nd place before 400m duty called. Good points, beating Hillingdon’s 14 and two off Serpies’s tally. Who were to be our real rivals, time would only tell?
Serpies won two 400m races. Giuseppe Minetti upping his racing range clung on with leaden legs and bursting lungs for 2nd in the M35 category, but at M50 that puts him 8th in 2019 rankings (not quite as good as his 2nd place ranking at 100m). That allowed in Dan Hallam for the B race and a solid 3rd. Kwei put club before mindset and toughed out a 60.1s lap for 2nd place. Waldy ran his third 400m race in 10 years, and his fastest of the three, for 4th! Now that limited Serpies to only one point gained, HHH still on a thirteen point lead. Derek Lee warmed up for his relay leg, preferring a short runout tonight.
On the field our throwing squad of Garth Francis, Des Austin, Chris Carden and Andy Lea-Gerrard took 2nd, 3rd and 4th lost ground to Hillingdon but Serpies tellingly gained two points on our nearest rivals.
An imperious win by Simon Coombes by 14 seconds in the 1500m, despite the previous day’s ravages of seeing his beloved Bournemouth lose to Crystal Palace, let the M55 Gary Ironmonger take on the M35B racers and doggedly taking a 2nd place. Conversely, M50 Andy Weir had his work cut out to nick the M50 win. Waldy put in his captain’s shift to ensure 3rd spot in the M60’s. And that meant we held our own equalling Serpies’s event tally and that 15 point lead. The Hoops were augmented by James Ward and Andy Simms in the 1500m, where a solid racing workout was gained by both in a good race with plenty similar paced runners.
The protracted Long Jump was key to our victory, but we came overall 3rd in the event conceding to both key rivals. Dion Panambalana at last leaping pain free for 3rd place but a mere 5 cms from a 1st place! M50 Paul Marriott took the M35 event 4th position and Chris Carden 3rd M60. Only 4 points dropped, which took us to an 11 point lead.
But that lead was cut in the 4 x 400m relay which played out in conjunction with the Long Jump. Not for want of trying, Andy Simms, Dan Hallam, Derek Lee and Andy Weir worked their socks off, our top 400m men had gone home! Fortunately, the loss to Thames with Serpies second and us sixth could not overcome our lead. A fine effort from our middle distance men of a certain age. … .
Finally, we discovered the next day the team work and persistence to cover events had worked out. We had saved ourselves that lead, now reduced to a mere but hard worked for extra seven points.
So the hubbub of the match was receding, bags packed, shadows disappearing. Darkness was closing in, the temperature was dropping as a result of the sun’s adieu. The officials scuttled around to close their business. The echoes in the emptying arena were being re-estabished, the near silence of dusk was close as the City around us hummed on in the background. And a small dry voice was heard, ‘Time for a pint?’
Full results, please see attached link at the top of report.
We need to keep the momentum in both quality and quantity, such a fine start by both squads CANNOT be squandered! We can then savour and ENJOY our endeavours in deed and reflection. So all of those endeavours have to get us out for the Hillingdon fixture, Monday June 10th. (If they can get so close to us at Battersea, home advantage has to be nullified by our own will and intent!)
Up the Hill !
Vets Team Manager.