BRISTOL & WEST AC win PROMOTION to the British League
I am very pleased to record that after 13 years in the wilderness Bristol & West’s Men’s Team are back in the British Athletics League. It is our rightful place, it is where a great Club like ours belongs and we are back.
Last year we failed at the last hurdle after arriving at Abingdon on the crest of a wave. This year we were wary, the team was clearly not our strongest, even on the day people failed to turn out. Cy KNIBB (as Team Manager) was desolate after all the effort that had gone into getting this team together, believing that we would once again miss out.
However the Gods were smiling, this was to be eventually a day of joy and celebration. That great club stalwart James PRESTON got things moving early on with a solid second place in the Discus and it was quickly followed by a controlled victory in the 400 metre hurdles by our Finnish International Gustav KLINGSTEDT, with John BRIERLY showing great support with a sensible second B placing. We were up with the leading teams and never looked back.
Chris DODD just back to Bristol University from his summer break pushed hard early on but his lack of training showed in the A 800 metres but Andrew DEAN-YOUNG stepped up to the plate with a brave B string run to win in 1:57.9. The time was good but one should also take into consideration that this was a wintry day with extremely strong winds in the back straight that only favoured the brave.
In the 100 metres which followed Scott BAJERE had an excellent run 2 tenths slower than the winner but such was the closeness of competition he was only awarded fifth place. Theo CAMPBELL stepped into the absent Leon REID’S shoes to take on the B string run and achieved an excellent second place. Charlie MACLEAN joined our track team for the first time this year and showed class by running away with the 3,000 metre steeplechase finishing 12 seconds in front of the opposition.
The Pole Vault was the next result in and as usual we were well served by our class vaulting team. This week it was Scott DAVIE & Luke BAILEY who brought home the bacon both clearing 4.00 metres to take second A & first B places. By this time B&W’s lead was considerable and hopes were really high that the match would be ours at last.
However in came the tragic Hammer result where poor James PRESTON fouled out 3 times and we did not have a B string!!! (No blame at all James – these things happen) This probably meant we lost say 20 points and suddenly we were mortal again and in the mix of a really tight race for supremacy.
Things looked up in the Long Jump where Ding YANG took fourth place and Scott DAVIE took second in the B string – we had hope. John BRIERLY scored a very solid fifth place in the 110 metre hurdles with a PB of 17.2 seconds and the gallant veteran Steve WEST nailed a fifth place in the B string. An old and familiar face (Jake FILIER) showed up just in time to support James PRESTON’s fine second place in the Shot and Ding YANG scored a fine fourth in the High Jump. The revelation at this stage however was our third place B High Jumper, Scott BAJERE who was dodging the 200 metres with a slight injury and volunteered to do the High Jump??? Lo and behold a great jump of 1.75 metres (the first since a 1.60 clearance at school) scored those valuable points. Things were still touch and go with ourselves, Reading, Portsmouth and Bedford each beginning to squeeze clear of the other four clubs.
Back on the track class told in the 400 metres where Gustav KLINGSTEDT did just enough to take the A string and Alex FIELDS measured his race well to take third in the B string. In the 1,500 metres Andy WOODS scored well with third place in the A string and Chris DODDS supported well with second in the B string. In the 200 metres the hard worked Alex FIELDS (it was worth waiting for him to get out of bed)and Andrew DEAN-YOUNG filled in with a sixt and fourth respectively. So to the last individual track event the 5,000 metres. Shaun ANTELL and Steve FRANCIS set off tentatively as the field quickly settled into two distinct groups. The first group comprised six very competent looking runners and our two were in the second group! However, after 3 laps Shaun bridged that gap of 30 meters and on the next lap Steve did the same. This very intriguing race prevailed lap after lap with the threatening bunch always keeping the same order. Our two were just off the pace until nearing the end the leading five with Shaun in tow broke clear. Meanwhile Steve had stitched up the B race good and proper in seventh place overall. So to the final lap surge where Shaun unfortunately could not match the sprint but still secured a good fifth place.
Meanwhile a newly rejuvenated Jake FILER took a solid sixth place in the Javelin backed by stand in Gustav KLINGSTEDT (a man from Finland can throw a Javelin when he is 6 months old, it is in the blood) who after two ‘no throws’ was a little reserved with his final throw to also take a sixth place. At the same time B&W played their ‘Joker’. With Coach Paul WESTON standing by admiringly Theo CAMPBELL and Ding YANG did their stuff. Both came out with remarkable personal bests. Theo who has finally emerged this year injury free produced a scintillating series to emerge with an outstanding 15.11 metre jump, 1.27 metres in front of the next A string and Ding with 13.97 walked away with the B string victory.
Still things were tight at the top as we went into the relays. Ding YANG, Theo CAMPBELL, Alex FIELDS & Scott BAJERE combined to finish third in the 4x100m (a win was stolen by a bad judging decision after Scott ran a tremendous last leg) and then John BRIERLY, Andrew DEAN-YOUNG, Alex FIELDS (again) and Gustav KLINGSTEDT combined to take a great second in the 4×400 metres relay. Andrew ran 50.5 and Gus 49.4 to wind up a great day in the Bristol history. Reading won both relays and finally beat us by just 4 points to lead the qualifying match but we eventually were 32 points clear of Bedford to secure that hard won place.
Congratulations to all involved particularly Cy Knibb as Team Manager and Chris Elson who has nurtured this team through the successful Midland League adventure. Well done to all of the competitors who enjoyed the day and bust a gut for a great Team.
I am sorry to shy a little from the performance on the day of our Women who turned up with only a handful of competitors and were never really in the promotion hunt. Those who came were gallant and your just reward will come next year when we will surely qualify. Remember we once were UK Women’s League Champions. We have promises of sprinters joining with us during this Winter and have talented youngsters coming up through our ranks to close those gaps.
On the day Hayley PITMAN again starred with a really excellent 1.75 metre clearance to win the High Jump and Christina JONES was not extended to win the Hammer easily. Rebekah RANDELL found starlet Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham & District) in her way in the 3,000 metres where she came second in 10:18.6 and Alice GROSJEAN won the Discus and was fourth in the Shot to cap a good day. Workhorses for the Team were Andrea LOCK and Nicola BREAKS who attempted to cover all of the gaps (and were disappointed that they were limited to three individual events each) with Nicola emerging with an excellent 11.27 metre Triple Jump to take second place. Next year we can easily win this match.
Mike Strange – September 18th 2011