National Athletics League 2022 - Match 1: Manchester
The National Athletics League is the UK’s premier club Track and Field competition and operates much like the National Football League, with one club named the 2022 Champion in Bedford in August and clubs relegated and promoted between the leagues. B&W are in the NAL Premiership (the top division), competing against 15 of the UK’s finest athletics clubs to be crowned National Champions.
The National Athletics League (NAL) season roared to life on Saturday, with our first match in Manchester at the Regional Athletics Arena. The track was built as the warm-up track for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and lies in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium, home to Manchester City FC. With the grand stage set, it was exciting to see the return of the full divisional NAL programme after a COVID enforced hiatus.
With 32 B&W athletes competing over 40 disciplines, there’s too many performances to name them all, so we’ve sat down with NAL Director Tristan Jamieson to pick out some highlights of the day.
Starting with the Men’s 400m Hurdles, Alex Daley ran superbly to finish in second place in 51.40s, just 0.02s outside of his PB. Hot on his heels, our 400 flat team also delivered the goods, with Mark Cottam finishing fourth in Race 1 in a new PB of 47.78, alongside Oliver Biddle winning Race 2 in 47.57, with all three securing a great points haul for the club.
On the theme of sprinter’s; Ed Wilson ran superbly in the Men’s 100m, finishing in a new PB of 10.89s, despite a sizable -2.3 headwind, we look forward to what he can achieve in later NAL Matches this season. Also in the 100m, Isaac Marsh ran a phenomenal new PB, in only his third ever 100m race, cutting his times from 11.60 through 11.30, down to 11.19 in Manchester.
We were treated to a thrilling competition in the High Jump, with B&W’s Charlie Husbands delivering one of the delights of the day to better his PB no less than three times, topping out for second place in 2.08m - a 9cm improvement on his PB. We think this is a new club HCA record, and just 2cm off the all-time club record jump of 2.10m.
In the Women’s Javelin, Sophie Hamilton threw a massive 43.44m in a quality field that saw Sophie (fourth ranked in the UK in 2022) up against Birchfield’s Emma Hamphlett (second ranked in the UK in 2022), with Emma taking the win and Sophie finishing in a strong second place. Catherine Beatty opened her season strongly, throwing 54.46m in the Women’s Hammer to take third place. A shout-out must also go to Harry Petyt who finished equal third in the Men’s Pole Vault with a 4.3m vault.
In the distance events, Katrina Entwistle finished in a fantastic second place in the Women’s 3000m in 10:15.83 just 5s outside her PB in her season opening race. In the Men’s 5000m, Will Parkin finished fourth in 15:06.07 in his track 5000m debut, with Luke Burgess in sixth and first B-scorer in 15:18.11. After a late change of personnel, Luke Burgess and Lee Gawler ran well in the 800m, a distance neither of them typically run, with Luke finishing in a new PB of 2:06.00 and Lee making his debut in the distance in 2:08.78. Lee then doubled up by racing alongside Ben Maliphant in the 1500m a few hours later. It was also great to see Charlotte Taylor-Green racing on the track for the first time since 2018, scoring vital points as our only runner in the Women’s 800m and 1500m.
Finally, there were many individuals who doubled, tripled or quadrupled (!) up or competed in events they wouldn’t usually do to ensure that the club scored as many points as possible. NAL Director Tristan Jamieson was leading by example, competing in the Shot, High Jump and men’s 4x400m despite being a 100m sprinter by trade. Tristan was backed up by Isaac Marsh (sprinter) performing Javelin & Discuss, Josh Maggs (4 events), Natalia Isherwood (4 events), Eleni Francis (4 events) and Harry Petyt (4 events) all competing outside of their comfort zones for the club. A special mention must go to Harry Petyt and Caroline Walder who despite being Pole Vaulters by trade jumped in to race in our 4x400m squads.
A big thank you must also go to our officials who travelled up as part of the team to officiate. As part of the NAL, teams score 5 points for every official they bring to the meet, so our officials form a vital part of the NAL campaign.
Reflecting on his first match as NAL Director, Tristan commented that:
“I am incredibly impressed by the commitment of those who competed on Saturday. The team cohesion was awesome and we all had a lot of fun. Every single athlete who put on a B&W vest added to the positive atmosphere. We all had a go at events outside of our comfort zone and had great fun doing it.
I learned a lot from today, being my first time as a team manager and not just an athlete. I am confident that, through the experience I gained over the weekend, our team’s organisation will only improve and I hope this translates to better results.”
Keep your eyes peeled for the NAL Match 2 Nomination Form, with our second fixture on Saturday 4th June at Weir Archers Athletic Track, Kingston Upon Thames.