UK Women’s Athletics League: Match 3, Sheffield

Chris Elson was ‘dragged out of retirement’ to valiantly act as team manager for the final UKWAL match of 2018. He reports:

UKWAL Sheffield 6.8.2018

The day got off to an auspicious start with our stalwart officials, Carol & Mike Strange, Pete Jackson & Alan Dent, scoring the maximum 20 points forthe team. Events in the field and on the track soon confirmed that the afternoon was about laying the basis for promotion next year rather than other “uncomfortable” scenarios. The hammer was one of the highest calibre I have witnessed with 5 throwers getting over 47m and 3 over 55. Christina Jones, as ever rose to the occasion taking 2nd place. In the B event Anya Kerr, who at my request to scrounge points tested her ability throw the hammer on Thursday evening last, finished 6th of the 8 competitors. Simultaneously the Long Jump was in progress. A real boost during the week was Sam Barrett’s return, who with coach Paul Weston’s backing, reckoning her back problem was sufficiently recovered to compete. Sam was 3rd with 5.26m while multi-eventer Taiya Jones, who Cardiff Archers have been kind enough to lend us under the HC rule, made a notable debut with 2nd in the B event with 5.10m, 0.05m off the winner! It was to be a busy afternoon for Taiya. Sadly, two of our pole vaulters were injured, and Lucy Bryan had weighter matters to worry about with the European Championships.

The first track event was the 400m hurdles with Hattie Dent 3rd in the A event, Hannah Jackson putting herself on the line again for the club, 2nd in the B event. Next was the 800m with Natalie Griffiths posting a PB of 2.15.8 to take 2nd place in the A race, and super veteran Sarah Everitt, called in to the team at the last minute and rising to the challenge magnificently taking 2nd in the B race with a recent best of 2.26.83. This was rapidly followed by the 100m. Bethan Wakefield slipped a bit out of her blocks but came through for a blanket finish with third and fifth in 4th place gaining more valuable points. That left Yvette Westwood, currently returning to form, to take 1st place in the B event – whoopee! In the 400m Amalia Westurlund was visibly delighted to get under 60secs with a 59.68 PB and 3rd place in the A race before Olivia Wilding took 3rd in the B race also with a PB of 61.49! After the 400m it was the 3K. Here Natalie Griffiths tracked the leader for most of the race, but international Sarah Potter, took the honours with Natalie having the consolation of a second PB of the afternoon of 10.03.07, some 15 secs off her previous best time. In the B race, Catie O’Donoghue made a winning track debut with an excellent 10.45 some 18 secs faster than her trial run, timed by Keith at Whitehall last Wednesday.

It was around this time that an announcement of the current team standings was made, with the team manager adjusting his hearing aids and looking for confirmation that he had heard correctly. Yes indeed, B&W AC were in 1st place. The field events results were coming in and Christina was again boosting her points score for the club (over the 3 fixtures Christina along with Natalie have made the biggest contribution) in the discus 6th spot. This was an event where we had no B participant, thereby relinquishing valuable points. Over at the high jump, Tayia Jones set a PB of 1.55m narrowly missing out at 1.60 taking 2nd place with Sam Barrett only 5cm away from her PB taking 3rd in the B event with 1.50m. Christina was in action again in the shot putt taking 3rd place with 11.68m her 2nd longest putt according to athletes look up! Taiya meanwhile made a rapid move from the high jump to the shot, and took 6th place in the B event.

On the track again Hannah and Hattie were back in action with Hannah with 4th in the A race with a respectable time into the headwind of 15.93, with Hattie 2nd in the B event. She seemed pleased with that. The 200m saw the setting of a division record of 23.14 with others close behind so it wasn’t a race to fancy your chances. Bethan, tired after her rugby training, had a bit of struggle just getting pipped on the line for 8th place. Yvette contested the B race finishing 4th, but with her fastest time in the UKWAL this year by over half a second of 25.78. Next up was the 1500m, which was something of an eye opener. Ellen Harrison, with the 2K chase to look forward to in 30mins or so, ran only her 2nd 1500m since 2012 and produced a PB of 4.57.56 to take 4th place in the A race. Not to be outshone super-vet Sarah Everitt produced another amazing performance winning the B race in 5.05.83, the fastest outdoor time for a UK W50 this year? The last two field events, viz. the triple jump and javelin were now taking place, with Anya Kerr & Amalia Westerlund involved in both. Anya posted a 9.23 jump taking 6th B before heading to her main event, the javelin. Amalia seemed to be rather enjoying herself looking for a PB but not quite getting it. So to the javelin, where Anya told me she was disappointed with her throw of 31.47. Well it was good enough for 3rd place in the A event. Amalia headed over to the javelin and this time did do a PB by 3m with 20.65 taking 6th in the B event.

So it was on to the last track events. By this time there were a lot of tired bodies with everyone having run two or 3 races. Nevertheless, Hannah, Bethan, Olivia & Yvette were 3rd in the sprint relay and Olivia, Yvette, Hattie & Amalia, who went sub 60 secs again, taking 6th place in the 4 X 400m relay. The event was distinguished by 400m legend Christine Ohuorgou marking her last track appearance. In between the two relays, super woman Ellen had her joust with the 2K chase. Looking amazingly relaxed and with a sprint finish Ellen finished 2nd!

There were lessons for next year. With a posse of this years talented U17 becoming eligible next year for UKWAL, promotion back to Division 1 is on the cards. However, to get promoted and this time stay in division 1 every slot in the team need filling. So, when next years UKWAL dates are announced (they will be likely the first weekend of June, July & August), take a copy and stick it to both your fridge and loo door!

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