Bristol & West Athletic Club were promoted to Division 3 of the British Athletics League on Saturday 18th August 2012 at a baking hot Thames Valley Athletics Stadium at Windsor. After three straight wins in the first three matches the bubble was always likely to burst and weddings, family illnesses, holidays and injuries all combined to remove good point scorers from the team. Add to that a couple of calamities on the day and an inspired performance from Mansfield and the team could only manage fourth place on the day. Nevertheless this was enough to give the club the league title on 21 match points with Reading Athletic Club runners up on 20 points.
The afternoon got off to a bad start on the track with Caspar Elliot hitting the eighth hurdle and crashing out of the 400 metre hurdles. James Trezona finished fourth in the ‘B’ race in 62.08. In the field the Club started well with Matt Spicer taking third in the ‘A’ hammer with a throw of 46.80 and Ben Hale took the ‘B’ string with a throw of 41.05, despite having a bandaged right hand and wrist following a fall.
Scott Bajere was in great form taking the 100 and 200 metre double in 10.82 and 21.86 respectively and contributing in the 4 x 100 metre relay. In the 100 metres Elliott Prendergast took the ‘B’ string in 11.14 and Chris Stone was third in the ‘B’ string 200 metres in 22.63.
In the 400 metres Caspar Eliot was fifth in the ‘A’ string in 49.40 and Andrew Dean-Young was third in the ‘B’ string in 50.76.
In the middle and long distances there were very solid performances from Dan Studley who was second in both the ‘A’ 800 metres and ‘A’ 1,500 metres in 1.58.13 and 4.02.78, Andrew Dean-Young who was second in the 800 metres ‘B’ race in 1.59.26 and Adam Speake who was second in the ‘B’ 1,500 metres in 4.05.52. Tom Merson pulled out all the stops to take second place in the ‘A’ 5,000 metres beating the Reading runner by 100th of a second in 15.08.39. Phil Parry took third in the ‘B’ race in 16.18.59. For the third time in the four meetings the club failed to field anyone in the 3,000 metre steeplechase.
In the 110 metre hurdles Scott Davie took sixth place in the ‘A’ race in 16.86 and James Trezona fifth in the ‘B’ race in 18.21.
In the 4 x 100 metres relay the club were fifth with Matty Lattibeaudiere, Chris Stone, Elliott Prendergast and Scott Bajere clocking 44.55. In the 4 x 400 metres Andrew Dean-Young, Dan Studley, Romaine Hyman and Caspar Elliot finished fourth in 3.24.23.
James Preston was one of the stars of the day winning the ‘A’ string discus in a Division 4 record of 41.29; Ben Hale was sixth in the ‘B’ string with a throw of 19.04. James also finished third in the ‘A’ string shot putt with a throw of 12 metres 65 centimetres. Martin Davies steeped in at the last minute to get a point with a 7 metre 72 centimetre throw in the ‘B’ string.
The javelin was a weak event for the club with Scott Davie throwing 28 metres 77 centimetres for sixth place in the ‘A’ string – we had no ‘B’ string competitor.
In the horizontal throws Ding Yang took second place in the ‘A’ string long jump with a jump of 6.69; James Diamond jumped 5.82 for third place in the ‘B’ string. In the triple jump Ding Yang injured himself warming up which meant that Scott Davie stepped up to the ‘A’ string and we had no ‘B’ string. Scott jumped 12.72 to take third place.
In the High Jump Luke Bailey finished fifth in the ‘A’ string with a clearance at 1.65, while Scott Davie (who had a very bust afternoon) finished fifth equal with a 1.60 clearance.
Saving the best to last our pole vault duo of Tony Hillier and Luke Bailey scored only our second double of the event as Tony won the ‘A’ string – his clearance at 4 metres 40 centimetres was a Division 4 record – in the ‘B’ string Luke cleared 4 metres 10 centimetres.
Thus our first season back in the British Athletics League saw the club promoted as champions and next year Division 3 awaits us. Many thanks to Cy Knibb whose tireless efforts saw most of the team slots filled most of the time. The athletes performed valiantly throughout the four matches with several of the team competing in all 4 matches. Despite winning 3 out of 4 matches we never fielded our strongest side on a single day. Congratulations to our pole vaulters who were superb at all 4 fixtures, Scott Bajere who led the sprinters admirably, the Biddlecombes and James Preston who were stalwarts in the throws. Next year we are already targeting promotion to Division 2 but to do so we will need to strength areas of the team – most notably the sprint hurdles, the steeplechase and the javelin. In addition we will need to field our strongest team at every match – but that’s for the future – for the present we should focus on celebrating year one back in the BAL – job well done.
Full results can be found at: http://www.bal.org.uk/bal/portal/main/?Section=Results&SubSect=15+League+2012&Story=National+4#National 4