The third round of the BAL Premiership took place at Sheffield on Saturday, and Woodford’s men’s team went into that fixture in fifth place in the division. Despite a strong effort by the team, including plugging gaps in certain events, Woodford were missing too many of their top athletes to make up ground. On the day Woodford finished 6th, as Birchfield again won with 362 points, from Newham with 318.5, a much improved host club, Sheffield on 294, Harrow 272.5, SBH 272, Woodford 248, Blackheath and Bromley 219, and Cardiff 155. That leaves the League standings with one fixture remaining at Birchfield 23, Newham 22, Harrow 16, SBH 15, Woodford 11, Sheffield 10, Cardiff 6, and Blackheath on 5. Youcef Zatat was Woodford’s only “A” string winner with the day’s best performance of the whole meeting, but there were many other decent performances including personal bests from Ewan Dyer, Eugene Amor-Dadzie, and Ellis Greatrex.
Performance of the day: Youcef Zatat
Youcef Zatat’s win came in the shot put where the current UK No.2 at that event won a good competition with a distance of 17.62m which was adjudged the day’s best performance overall. Backing up Youcef in that shot competition Anthony Oshodi was back in competition and he placed 2nd in the “B” with 13.47m. Missing javelin specialists, Anthony also covered that “B” event where he placed 7th with 27.28m, and again showing what a good club man he is Youcef, was 6th in that ‘A” event with 50.92m, and earlier placed 4th in the “B” discus with 43.79m, as on this occasion Chris Linque just got the better of him with 44.86m for 5th in the “A”. In the hammer Andy Frost edged to a marginal season’s best with 60.11m for 4th in the “A” and Fergus Harford was 6th in the “B” with 29.96m. In the jumps, Daniel Gardner and brother Nathan covered the pole vault, Daniel off a short eight stride approach cleared 4.40m which placed 5th in the “A”, whilst Nathan not fully recovered from injury, nevertheless was able to clear 4.20m which placed him a good 3rd in the “B”. Shuffling from the pole vault run-way, to that of the long jump, Daniel also covered the long jump at the same time and had a pleasing result in an event he rarely competes in (his p.b. of 7.14m as an U/20 dates to 2013) and won the “B” with 6.84m (-1.4m). In the “A” last season’s National U/20 champion and still an U/20 Calum Henderson placed 3rd with 7.08m (+1.7). The triple jump was a good competition, and missing Tosin Oke, injured during the week, Lawrence Davis stepped up into the “A” and performed admirably where a season’s best (and that from some way behind the board) of 15.74m w (+2.3) placed him 3rd. Peter Kirabo covered the “B’ and his 12.53m (+0.2) was 4th. The high jump saw Robert Wolski struggling with an ankle problem, but he nevertheless cleared 2.00m which was 5= in the “A”, and in the “B” Joba Ashiru fresh from a recent p.b. of 1.90m, acquitted himself well in his first senior competition where his 1.80m placed 5th in the “B”.
Ryan McKinlay: covered the 110mH, 400mH and steeplechase
On the track, events started with the 400mH and, missing any of the specialist hurdlers Ryan McKinlay covered the ‘A” string where he placed 7th, and Tom Phillips the “B” where he also finished 7th. Ryan also covered the ‘A” 110mH, where with one athlete missing and another not finishing his contribution brought valuable 6th place points, as did in between those hurdle events his 4th place in the “B” event of his more specialist event the 3km s/ch with 10m45.33 secs. In that “A” event Angus Holford recorded a season’s best of 10m06.34 secs which placed 6th. It was over 800m that Ewan Dyer recorded his personal best and in a very tight race, his 1m51.34 secs, placed him 4th in the “A”. Jordan Donnelly was in the “B” and he was 7th with 1m57.01 secs. Later, and missing usual specialist 400m athletes Ewan covered that “A” event, which was of a very high standard and he placed 8th. Paul Scanlan was in the ‘B” and he took 7th place, pleased to be back under 50 secs with 49.96 secs. Jordan also competed again, in the ‘B” 1500m where his 4m06.99 was 7th, and where in a tactical “A” race Ed Shepherd was just a bit too far back as the pace speeded up, and although finishing strongly he placed 5th with 3m56.30 secs. The 5000m took place towards the end of the day, with by then conditions very warm, Paul Martelletti had hisfirst track race of the season, and in a good quality field his pleasing 14m43.71 secs placed him 5th, as was Tom Phillips in the “B” with 16m00.09 secs. The sprints as usual were of a high standard and in a very close ‘A” 100m, Chris Stone’s 10.67 secs (-0.3) was only good enough for 7th. Later Chris was involved in an equally tight 200m “A” race, where 0.15 secs covered the first 5, and this time claimed 2nd with 21.25 secs (+1.3). In those “B” sprints, Eugene Amo-Dadzie, who had a good indoor campaign, but whose outdoor season has been held back by injury, impressed on his BAL debut as he finished 3rd in the “B” recording a p.b. of 10.55 secs, and in the “B” 200m, and onto a head-wind U/20 Matthew Adum-Yeboah was 5th with 22.32 secs (-0.9). In a non-scoring race over 200m Ellis Greatrex (recently selected for the GB & NI 4x400m squad in the upcoming European U/23 championships) was 3rd, pleased with his p.b. of 21.91 secs (+0.5), where U/20 Winfred Hakeem recorded 22.81 secs. In non-scoring 100m races U/20 Matthew Adum-Yeboah recorded 11.15 secs (-0.6), U/17 Tolani Alaba 11.26 secs (-0.6) and U/20 Winfred Hakeem 11.51 secs (-0.6).
The relays saw decent performances from the Woodford teams, where a much improved 4x100m team of Eugene Amo-Dadzie, Tolani Alaba, Matthew Adum-Yeboah, and Chris Stone, showed decent baton skills to record 40.99 secs for 3rd. The 4x400m squad placed 4th with 3m15.77 secs and saw a welcome return to competition for Daniel Rowden who has been recovering from surgery earlier this year. Daniel recorded 47.59 secs on leg 3 and combined with Paul Scanlan (50.97 secs), Ellis Greatrex (47.33 secs) and Ewan Dyer (49.88 secs).
After another slightly frustrating team result at this fixture (due to the unavailability for many reasons of some athletes) but one where great team spirit nevertheless prevailed, team manger Gladys Bird will be hoping that a strong team can be assembled for the final fixture at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on August 3rd.