HHH Women Vets finished 2nd overall in the Mid-London division of the Southern Counties VAC League with a great improvement on last year when we finished 3rd out of the five teams. The fantastic team spirit which is the foundation of this team meant that even though we had absences, injuries and gaps, we still achieved great results. With only 13 competitors in the four matches – 10 in Match 1 (where we came 2nd) 8 in Match 2 (3rd) 10 in Match 3 (2nd) and 7 in Match 4 (2nd) we took 32 first places and 25 2nd places – accounting for 65.5% of the 87 events covered.
Match 1 – 12 May 2014 – Battersea Park
A rainy night at Battersea didn’t dim our enthusiasm. Our 100m sprinters, Maria Clayton and Sharon St Luce, were pipped to the post by 1/100ths and 1/10th of a second, and Mandy Brown came 2nd in her first attempt at this short distance since 2012, shaving .1 sec off her time. I lowered the averages by coming 5th (ok, last) in my first attempt at this distance since 2008 – well, I had already sprinted over from the Shot Put!
Mandy went straight into the 2000m Walk where she came 1st with 13.42.8. In W35 Penelope Cummings came 2nd behind Ealing’s Lithuanian star, setting a pb with 10.59.7 and reducing her time from last year by an incredible 1.49.33!
We wrapped up the 400m W35A & B strings with Patrizia Gnoato and Nikki Sturzaker claiming decisive 1st places, improving on last year’s times by 2 secs and .3 sec. Fresh from the 2000m Walk (!) Mandy came 3rd in W50.
The 1500m was another victory for the W35s: Nicola Richmond with 5.15.5 (smashing this at the Masters in Birmingham in August with 5.05.43) and following on from the 400m, Nikki with 5.36.0 (smashing this at the HHH Open Meeting in July with 5.06.87) – both leaving 14 secs between them and the Serps in 2nd place. Mandy, entering unfamiliar territory and covering her fourth event, gained precious points in 4th place in the W50. Newbie Natalie Zara’s non-scoring 06.04.8 would have gained her 3rd place in the W35 B string.
In the 4x400m relay Patty, Nikki, Natalie and Nicola produced yet another best time for the team, 5 secs less than last year at 5.02.9 – enough to get us 2nd place.
In the field events, Kathleen Moeller has stepped up to cover the gap in W35, piling pb upon pb throughout the season. Her opening Shot (get it?) of 5.72m gained her 3rd place but at the HHH Open Meeting in July she achieved 6.25m – watch this space. Sharon and I scored full points in the W50 and W60 categories, and Sharon has achieved pbs at the HHH Open Meeting in July with 8.67m (4kg) and 9.64m (3kg) – currently 3rd in the UK in the W55 age group.
Unfortunately Maria didn’t clear her height in the W35 High Jump but Sharon and I managed to squeeze in a couple of attempts between Shot, 100m and Discus, to gain some 2nd place points each in the W50 and W60. Kathleen debuting as a W35 non-scorer cleared 1.05m. In the Discus Sharon threw 19.12 to gain 2nd place in the W50s and I threw 19.70m to earn full points in the W60s (currently 2nd place in the UK W60 with 19.93 from UK Women’s League in June). Nikki’s non-scoring throw reached 17.54m.
Maria had better luck in the Long Jump, coming 4th in W35 with 2.83m and Sharon came 2nd in the W50s with 2.93m. Kathleen’s non-scoring debut produced a jump of 2.27m.
Match 2 – 9 June 2014 – Hillingdon
Hillingdon tends to be a difficult venue for us to get to, but Nicola managed the long journey by tube and walk even with a pram! That’s what I call commitment! With only 8 athletes we covered as many events as we could, earning enough points for 3rd place in a hard-fought competition, with no long distance W50 or W60 runners. Of the 71 points scored, Sharon earned 20, covering seven events.
We started out magnificently on the track with Nicola (2.33.4) and Nikki’s first time at this distance (2.33.9) both taking 1st in the W35 A&B 800m. We had a string of 2nd places in the 200m: Patty improving her time from last year by .3 secs (31.6) in W35A, Nikki’s first time at this distance with W35B 31.7, Sharon equalling her pb from 2010 at 34.8 in the W50, and my first time at this distance 46.6 in 4th place W60.
In the 3000m Nicola with 11.29.4 in W35A, below her pb of 11.04.43 at Rosenheim in May, was enough to win the race by 3.3 secs, and Ola Balme in her first competition with us, won the W35B with 11.41.2, again below the 11.31.9 pb she set two days previously at Southern Women’s League.
Yet again the team’s best time was reduced in the 4x100m relay when Sharon, Nikki, Nicola and Patty crossed the line 1.6 secs less than previously, in 61.1 secs.
We saw Kathleen producing pbs with every shot put, finishing W35 in 4th with 6.16m and destroying the 6m barrier forever. Sharon won W50 with 9.5m and I did not deserve to win W60 with 7.50m. In the Triple Jump Sharon set a new pb in the W35 with 7.48m (3rd) and with no-one else to fill the gap, I came 4th in the W50 with 5.30m.
A star was born in Long Jump with Patty’s first ever outing at 3.50m, giving her 3rd spot in W35. I had challenged her to jump that distance and was taken aback when she complied! Wish it was always that easy! Not to be outdone, Sharon won the W50 with 3.21m and I (still shocked) came 4th in W60 with 2.28m. In her 7th event of the evening, Sharon gathered her strength to throw the 4kg Hammer 13.52m (4th in W35) and I came 2nd in W50 with 22.37m.
Battle plans were drawn up on the long journey home, recognising we needed to gather ourselves together at the next match to put some distance between us and Hillingdon, and to gain on Serpentine.
Match 3 – 23 June 2014 – Battersea
With only two events not covered (long distance W60) we scraped together each and every point. The Serpentine 4-point margin of victory over us in this match was their smallest since their defeat at the hands of Hillingdon four years ago. There was a comfortable 14.5 points separating us from Hillingdon in 3rd place.
Longer distancers Nikki and Ola sacrificed themselves for the W35 100m, running it for the first time as Vets in 15.8 and 16.8, finishing 3rd and 2nd. Sharon and I juggled Discus (and Sharon, High Jump) to run the race – Sharon gathered full W50 points and I reduced my time by half a second (19.6) to finish 4th instead of 5th! Repeating their double act in the 2000m Walk, Penel came 2nd in W35 with 11.07.0 and Mandy won the W50 with 13.09.6.
Despite the torrential rain, the 400m was a real success story. Nikki put a new event on POT, winning W35A in 68.3 and Patty won the W35B in 69.4, setting a new pb. Mary Setyabule gave up her non-scoring lane so the W50 and W60 combined race could be run, but the Starter was nowhere to be seen. I gave up and started to sprint (!) to Javelin, only to be ordered back to my lane. I didn’t know how I was going to make it around the track, especially after the sprint, but the yells of “Keep Going” and “Just Finish!” from the stands got me around. I was chuffed with 3rd place (ok, last place) in W60 with 2.07.01 to be reduced next time, and Mandy won W50 in 80.2, her best time since 2012.
Another conquest in the 1500m with Nicola and Ola winning W35 A&B in 5.21.4 and 5.31.8, Ola introducing 1500s to her repertoire for the first time. Nicola went on to set a pb at the Masters in Birmingham on 9 August with 5.05.43 – fantastic! After the Walk and the fast 400m, Mandy stepped up to cover the W50 1500m, coming 4th in 7.04.09, adding this new event to POT. Mary’s non-scoring 6.34.7 is an excellent beginning to build upon.
Patty, Nikki, Mary and Nicola turned the tables on Serps from Match 1, putting a clear 7.4 secs between them to win the 4 x 400m relay, and slashing our best time by 4.8 secs.
Exploring her newfound throwing talents, Kathleen came 2nd in W35 Discus with a pb of 16.45m, to be surpassed at Southern Women’s League on 9 August with 16.87m. Sharon won W50 setting a new pb of 20.83m and I won W60 with 18.71m. Non-scoring W35 Nikki threw a massive 20.61m, another pb!
Between Discus and Javelin, Kathleen and Sharon managed to cover High Jump, both clearing 1.05m, Kathleen 4th in W35 and Sharon 2nd in W50. In Javelin Kathleen threw 12.40m to come 4th in W35 (bettering this at the HHH Open Meeting in July with a pb of 13.02m), Sharon won W50 with 24.07m – now 2nd in the UK in the W55 age group! After the 400m drama, I threw a wobbly 14.75m to come 2nd in W60.
After her revelation in long jump and after sussing the sequence, Patty jumped 6.15m in W35 Triple Jump to gain 3rd place, and Sharon came 2nd in W50 with 7.04m.
Match 4 – 14 July 2014 – Perivale
As Winston Churchill said, never have so many owed so much to so few. Even though we only had 7 competitors at this last match covering all the events we could, we still managed to come 2nd – a stupendous effort!
We started out how we meant to go on with the first track events, the W35 800m with Ola and Nicola snatching first place in the A&B strings with 2.44.5 and 2.45.1, all the more remarkable for Nicola as she (and Nikki and I) had been caught up in standstill traffic due to a major accident on the M40, and Nicola barely made it to the starting line in time. Nicola went on to set a new pb of 2.29.63 at the B&B Open Meeting on 11 August. Just returning from injury and facing not her favourite events, Gillian Wheeldon covered the W50 longer distances heroically, and even had legs for the relay! She came 4th in the 800m with 3.22.6.
Another string of 2nd places in the 200m with Nikki’s W35A pb of 31.0, Nicola’sW35B 32.8 pb and Sharon’s W50 35.2. I came 3rd in the W60 with 42.4, an improvement from 4th place and 4.2 secs – after the 400m this was easy! Pah! But then when I announced at Long Jump that now I am a sprinter, I would have a longer run up, they found it hilarious!
After their victory in the 800m, Ola eased through to 2nd place in the W35A 3000m and despite having run the 200m as well, Nicola was not content with less than 1st with 11.47.9 in the B string. Not a lover of the longer distances, Gillian found strength to power through for 3rd place with 15.09.5 in the W50. Catching her breath, she joined Nikki, Ola and Nicola in the 4 x 100 relay to help bring the baton home in third place (65.4).
Kathleen was at it again, trying her hand at the Hammer this time – a stepping stone at 11.02m and 4th W35, as she went on to set a pb of 14.83m at Southern Women’s League in August. Sharon set a pb and came 2nd in the W50 with 19.80m and channelling the frustration of only being in time for one throw, I came first in W60 with 23.05m (currently 3rd in the UK W60 with 24.64m at the HHH Open Meeting in August.)
Kathleen moved swiftly on to High Jump where she came W35 joint 3rd on a count back with 1.05m and on her way to Javelin, Sharon made a detour to also clear 1.05 in first place W50. She then threw a massive 24.32m pb in the 600g W35, and I threw 14.75m for 2nd place in W50. Having a great night, Sharon leapt 3.42m to come 1st in W50 Long Jump, and Kathleen came 4th in W35 with 2.54. I came 3rd in W60 with 2.26m.
The team continues to evolve and the unselfish attitude is reaping rewards – the “can do” stance has been an essential ingredient of our success this season. To misquote Martin Luther King Jnr: “I have a team!” If we can avoid the gaps and absences next year – and recruit more W50s and W60s to spread the load – we have a real opportunity to prise away the hold Serpentine has on top spot!
Well done everyone – another great season! If team spirit gained us extra points, we would have won outright!
Team Manager, HHH Women’s Vets