We finished runners-up in the second fixture of the Southern Athletics League season at Perivale on Sunday, having won our opening match. Facing the top 2 teams in division 3N after the first round of matches, a team weakened by an unusual rush of late withdrawals despite fine weather finished ahead of hosts Ealing Southall & Middlesex. However Dacorum and Tring extended their advantage at the top of the table, while finishing well behind the top 3 teams were Ilford and Braintree & District.
Recent SAL wins have been characterised by strong starts, and despite winning 3 of the initial field events the challenge of this fixture was underlined by having none of the intended athletes in either 400m hurdles able to compete, leaving Club President Terry McCarthy to represent WGEL in the opening track event. The intent of the home club was clear when last year’s Loughborough international winner lined up at the start of the 800m (Ben Waterman), we do not expect Daniel Rowden to do the same in a year’s time after his fine victory in the same race this weekend! However, despite the men's track strength of the hosts, it was Dacorum & Tring that carried more threat across the board and they underlined their intent with an international 400m runner (Philippa Lowe) taking the women's 800m.
Jade Currie (photo above, with Iris Verweij) led the way for Woodford with her 3 individual events wins, 100m hurdles, LJ (4.83PB) and SP (9.49PB). Iris Verweij (our top overall points scorer) and Eike Vardja took the respective B strings amid unexpectedly busy days to ensure that, despite late changes, the women's field was our strongest area. Steph Howe won the HT and Rebecca Fafowora the TJ (10.28PB).
The women's 4x100m team (Rhianna Buaku, Karina Hope-Bruce, Temi Olusesan and Agnes Kissi) also won, in 51.86, as the women outscored both rival teams in total. (Photo above: Karina handing to Temi)
Among a number of U17s with significant new PBs the standout was at the start of the day when Joba Ashiru improved to 1.88 in the HJ (plus 12.04 100 and a B string TJ win). Tolani Alaba increased to 2.80 in the PV, Reece Barton (11.99) and Agnes Kissi (13.39) moved forward in the 100m as did Videsh Weerakkody in winning the B 800 in 2:05.89 behind some very high quality A strings. Late changes in the men's jumps were relatively expensive, but fortunately UKWAL team manager Keith Newton brought his spikes along in addition to helping out his likely team members.
In addition to winning the shot (12.42), Hugh Williams (left) had another busy day to end as top male points scorer. Alex Bell was the only male individual A string winner on the track, taking the 400m in 49.47, while B string winners included Joey O’Neill (200m 23.43 after 11.51PB in the 100) and Darren Southcott (3000m behind first claim debutant Ahmed Abdulle). Jos Farquharson just lost out in tight A string sprint races, but led off the victorious 4x400m team (with Lalu Abiodun, Videsh Weerakkody and Paul Scanlan) whose 3:30.93 improved on the best WGEL time in an SAL set in the previous match.
This was the first senior fixture since the passing of the late, great Ron Bowden. He had helped many of the athletes competing at this fixture directly and the coaches of almost all of them. The event he became almost synonymous with was the hammer throw, and in this not only did Peter Clarke win (54.45) but M50 Fergus Harford won the B string and came second overall with his furthest throw in 3 years, 34.43.
Team manager Alan James would like to thank all those who contributed to a competitive match, including officials. The result leaves WGEL well in contention for a top 3 promotion position, but needing to win the next fixture, which will be the first in several years to be held at the Cricklefields track in Ilford, on Saturday 23 June.