The club travelled to Bournemouth on Saturday 28th July 2012 for the third match in the British Athletics League season knowing that a good performance was needed if they were to maintain their drive for promotion to Division 3 of the League. A BMC Race in Oxford left the team short of middle distance athletes and injury deprived the team of several key sprinters. Nevertheless, such is the depth of the squad these days and such is the persistence of Cy Knibb as Team Manager that we managed to cover all events except the 3,000 metres steeplechase.
A couple of late withdrawals, and a car breakdown on the day, meant that some team members were operating in events well outside their comfort zones but some great performances by athletes in their specialist events and others gaining points outside their specialist events saw the team home in first place 21.5 points clear of Reading by 254.5 points to 233. In match point terms this gives Bristol & West a maximum 18 out of 18 with Reading second on 15 points, Nene Valley third on 11 points, Mansfield and Cambridge Harriers on 8 points and Bournemouth on 3 points.
This means that even if the club finishes sixth in the final match at Windsor on Saturday 18th August 2012 we would still be promoted to Division 3 of the British Athletics League – but wouldn’t it be nice to be promoted as undefeated Division 4 League Champions.
There were some great events where the club won both ‘A’ and ‘B’ : the Pole Vault where Tony Hillier cleared 4 metres 40 centimetres and Luke Bailey cleared 3 metres 80 centimetres, the Discus where Liam Biddlecombe threw 45 metres 45 centimetres and Simon Biddlecombe threw 42 metres 89 centimetres, the 400 metres hurdles where Gustav Klingsted ran 52.48 (a run which gave him the performance of the match award) and Caspar Eliot ran 55.21 and the 800 metres where Andrew Woods (1.55.03) and Andrew Dean-Young (1.58.00) both won.
Added to these doubles there were a whole string of individual wins. In the field Ben Hale took the ‘B’ string hammer with a throw of 37 metres 99 centimetres, Ding Yang won the Triple Jump ‘A’ string with a jump of 13 metres 87 centimetres and Liam Biddlecombe the ‘A’ shot putt with a throw of 14 metres 35 centimetres.
On the track Scott Bajere scored a personal double taking the ‘A’ string 100 and 200 metres in 10.64 and 21.61 seconds. Scott started his afternoon winning the non-scoring 100 metres and anchored the 4 x 100 metres to second place overhauling the Reading athlete in the last few strides to run up an impressive personal points tally. Andrew Dean-Young also scored a personal double winning the ‘B’ 400 metres in 50.37 to add to his 800 metres win.
Adam Speake ran a really gutsy 1,500 metres ‘B’ string when after a slow first 800 metres he threw down the gantlet with a ferocious third lap – he was overtaken by the ‘A’ string athletes from Cambridge Harriers (Joe Durrant winner in 4.02.52) and our own Andrew Woods (runner-up in 4.03.54) but was a clear winner of the ‘B’ string race recording 4.04.67.
Our final win came in the last event of the day – the 4 x 400 metres relay – where the quartet of Andrew Dean-Young, John Brierly, Andrew Woods and Caspar Eliot ran 3.21.51.
As well as our numerous winners other athletes played a key part in the success, John Brierly was probably busiest athlete on the day running both relays, finishing fifth in the ‘A’ string 110 metres hurdles in 18.00, finishing fifth in the ‘B’ string long jump with 5 metres 41 centimetres and collecting a fourth place in the ‘B’ string high jump with a clearance at 1 metre 55 centimetres. Another busy athlete was Rhys Llewellyn-Eaton who finished fifth in the triple jump ‘B‘ string with a jump of 10 metres 83 centimetres, sixth in the ‘B’ string javelin with a throw of 30 metres 33 centimetres and fourth in the ‘B’ string 110 metres hurdles in 24.06 – and thanks to Rhys for persevering with his journey as his car broke down on the way.
Other performers in the field were James Preston who took second place in the ‘B’ string shot with a throw of 12 metres 32 centimetres and Gustav Klingstedt added to his 400 metres hurdles triumph with fifth place in the ‘A’ string javelin with a throw of 42 metres 58 centimetres. Matt Spicer took third in the ‘A’ string hammer with 45 metres and 96 centimetres, Ding Yang finished fifth in the ‘A’ long jump with 6 metres 48 centimetres and Luke Bailey finished fifth equal in the ‘A’ high jump with a clearance at 1 metre 50 centimetres.
Back on the track Elliott Prendergast finished second in the ‘B’ 100 metres in 11.17 and fourth in a close 200 metres ‘B’ race in 22.68. Caspar Eliot was third in the 400 metres ‘A’ race in 50.17. Finally, in the longest race of the day – the men’s 3,000 metres – Zak Tobias finished fifth in the ‘A’ race, just breaking 9 minutes, with 8.59.74. The evergreen Phil Parry showed what a club man he is by finishing third in the ‘B’ string in 9.24.67.
Overall, it was a tremendous team performance and we now look forward to rounding off our return to the British Athletics League with a fourth win from four events – it will be tough as Windsor will be Reading’s ‘home’ event so speak to Team Manager Cy Knibb early to let him know your availability and let’s send our strongest possible team to finish the job on Saturday 18th August 2012.
Full results will be on http://www.bal.org.uk/bal/portal/main/HomePage.asp in due course and photos – courtesy of club hammer thrower Ben Hale can be downloaded from https://picasaweb.google.com/116716672507908761601/BALBournemouth2012?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNv8x8zNm5DP1wE&feat=directlink but please leave Ben’s logo on them if you download any.