Herne Hill Veterans Track & Field A Fine Show as Vets T&F Season Starts: Men sneak a Win, Women 3rd.

Battersea Park Millennium Stadium. Monday 16th May 2022.

A great meeting win, but oh so close, was achieved for our men on our return to Track and Field competition assisted by the collaboration of the highly talented and the willingness of all to cover less familiar age group events. Equally, our HHH women competed in quality and cover in the same manner, but lacked the over 60’s (& o70’s) to score points to significantly have a chance compete for divisional supremacy. But excluding those age groups HHH women were as strong and scored as well as their competitors.
Though we still have three matches to complete, and still all to play for, we cannot slacken to claim any divisional prowess or superiority. A fine Track & Field restart to what had the feel of an almost normal pre-C-19 meeting, though we still had at least one athlete missing as a result of C-19.

Battersea in May provided obliging conditions to race and reconvene our social side; the weather being dry, warm and only a mere blustery breeze and the competition to bother our racers.

The early field events had Patti Gnoato take 1st place in the W50 High Jump, whilst Des Austin and Chris Carden provided highly respectable 3rd places in the M50 and M60 discus. Both Nikki Sturzaker and Mandy Brown took fine third places in the Shot to demonstrate our team competitiveness at events less familiar to them.
Track was spectacularly kicked off by M50 Giuseppe Minetti competing at M35 and still showing a clean pair of heels to all his competitors winning the first track event of the season. Dion Panambulana (M55) admirably covered the M35B spot (5th), as did middle distance runner Gary Ironmonger (2nd) and Phil Parish representing our M70’s with a fine 3rd place.
The women’s 100m brought fine 2nd places for both Alexandra Marginean and Jess Winfield whilst Patti Gnoato already took her second W50 1st place of the night by a larger margin than Giuseppe’s earlier sprinting display within the first hour of the meeting!

Waldy Pauzers (M65) walked off with the overall win in the 2000mW, ably followed by Andy Millbank (1st, M50) in his return to racing after 3 years of injury struggles, (a fine demonstration that dogged persistence and determination will get you back to competing, which we all love to do). Mike Mann’s race walk debut (at M70) got himself an age 1st and top points, whilst a similar walk debut from Rob Nagorski (M55, but covering M35) still claimed those really essential team points, coming a critical third in that age group. Equally, Mandy Brown topped the W50 walkers in a 1st whilst Jess Winfield had her inaugural race walk experience, and did not flinch at the experience!

In the field, Patti placed 3rd in her 3rd event, Long Jump, whilst Nikki Sturzaker covered the same within the W35 competition. A welcome return of ‘the Brixton Bolt’, Paul Marriott, earnt him 2nd place at M50, whilst M55 Dion Panambalana jumped further (4-16m) representing M35, Chris Carden M60 made it three LJ 2nd placings, whilst Mike Mann got 3rd in the new M70 category. Meanwhile the ever dedicated team man Kwei Sankofa (M60) took on the High Jump, 4th, despite having to launch himself off his ‘wrong leg’ due to a persistent ankle injury which had already prevented him racing his beloved and top class short sprint.

Our middle distance men Andrew Perfect, Simon Coombes and Gary Ironmonger honourably and willingly covered ‘the long sprint’, in the 400m M35A/B, M60 events, along with M55 Dion Panambalana who all earnt those essential team points with 3rd, 2nd, 1st and 5th respectively. (Gary, unable to race m/d at present put in a second fine sprint performance despite his lack of sprint training, and once again demonstrated his amazing range of athletic abilities.) Equally of interest was Alex Marginean’s 400m debut at W35 coming 1st and clearly showing her natural propensity to shorter, rather than m-d distances. Inga Bellahn (W35B) and Patti Gnoato hit those 2nd placed high points to keep the women being highly competitive despite the loss of our W60 women and little chance to take the women’s match.

Back in the field, those essential team points were being clocked up in the Shot Put by Des Austin (M50, 4th,) and the long distance travellers (out to represent the club that matters to them) Chris Carden (M60 3rd from Northampton) and Phil Parish (M70 2nd coming from the West Country). Though we lost points by not being represented in both M35 throws. . …. Nikki Sturzaker and Mandy Brown (along with Patti) kept up their ‘no surrender’ multi-eventing demeanour in the Discus earning 2nd and 4th placings. Unfortunately, the HHH women’s scoring equally lost out on W60, W70 age group points, which limits our team’s overall scoring competitivity.

Meanwhile, the track proceeded to our middle distance and core expertise in the 1500m. Those M35 long sprint stand-ins were now in their element. Andrew Perfect (1st M35A) and Simon Coombes (1st M35B) steamed home (followed by non-scorer Mo Ismail) trained in 1-2-3, Derek Lee checked in at 4th M50, whilst M60 Mark Bebbington reinforced our 1500m supremacy with another 1st. And the RnB hoops (non-scorers) just kept on coming, Paul Calver, Nick Jones, Rob Nagorski, Waldy Pauzers and Gary Budinger. Neither did our multi-eventing women disappoint Nikki hitting a competitive 2nd, Jess doing the same at W35B and newcomer Ellen Walsh (welcome indeed) going for a game 5th position for the women’s 1500m.

Now, the final relays are always momentous, we thought we had had the best entertainment from the men’s 4 x 400m where M60 Gary Budinger filled in at 3rd leg. Subsequently, a totally isolated fourth leg Andrew Perfect in 3rd place taking a bit of a steady close out lap to maintain position but wildly chased by (ex-HHH man) Nick Atwell for TVH, suddenly had to sprint from 160m out but Andrew was overtaken, only for the TVH team to be disqualified.
Drama we had, but even better, our RnB Girls surpassed the excitement and volume from the stands.
Alex Marginean yet again showed her sprint ability nicking the lead on leg one. Inga Bellahn worked a true engine room performance keeping us just about in touch to be worth chasing the Hillingdon leaders. Patti took on the baton and, despite the fatigue of her 5th event and the support volume in crescendo, worked her way just that bit closer for Nikki to have a chance to challenge the lead. On the final leg, the Hillingdon rabbit ran in fear, the HHH feisty fox was on the hunt, the noise with 200m to go was in full force, step by step the gap closed and Nikki hit the front and expanded it to the line! What a thrilling meeting closeout event, result and reflection of what HHH vets are all about. Marvellous!

Exhilarating and exemplary starts and finish and great consistency in places, the HHH ethic was ably demonstrated. Yet, we need to consolidate, step up and take on the challenge and do our best. The teams needs you all, scoring, back-up or helping out, the squad doesn’t differentiate in our team support and solidarity. Great win by our men, but a mere three point advantage from Hillingdon, with Serpies not far behind. We can’t relax nor rest on our short lived laurels. For those teams will be in the hunt for revenge, will up their performance levels and fight for that divisional title.
Women, be proud, losing our W60’s stymied our performance. (In fact a W35/W50 match shows we would have won. The reality is we need our W60’s fit and would love a W70 to compete, but we will challenge and continue to show how competitive we are as we enjoy a great evening of athletics.)
Many welcome new faces and athletes moving to cover ‘previously untried’ events were present and gratefully encouraged, so necessary to compete in the team competition which is the overriding purpose of these Veterans team meetings. Some events were covered and others not allocated, which is reflected within the team results. Yet, that also shows our deficiencies in age groups, (especially with the women), sprinters and throwers. Oh, how we could do with those specialists!
Well done to all who participated, we couldn’t have done t without any of you.

Please link into the NEW HHH AMBER data base system. It takes a minute to do this. So much work has been put in to make HHH work simpler and clearer for all team managers, coaches and organisers. (Feel free to send me an email, but PLEASE get engaged with HHH Amber. You have received email to connect to it.)

Next Match: Hillingdon, Monday 13th June. (We need to keep and build on our momentum, UtH.)

Waldy Pauzers,
Vets Team Manager.
Rev Three Results, herebelow. .. !