Here's Ken Maggs' report for our final SAL match of the season.
Nene Valley Harriers travelled out eastwards on Saturday 20 August 2016 for the final fixture of the Southern Athletics League. It was an extremely windy day which was making it a day where competitive performance was more important than time or distance. The team competed well with the background sounds of the Norwich Party in the Park and recorded a good win in a very close fixture, only 25 points between all four teams. At various stages during the fixture NVH were three or four points ahead and all three competitor teams were on equal points.
At a match where the team were driven by the fact that they had to return their League Champions trophy to the league and unfortunately had been unable to defend the title, the win achieved meant that they will finish this season in 3rd place.
All credit for the day goes to the overall team spirit and performance support from each and every athlete for their fellow competitors. The male throwers were impressive dropping just two points in all four throws events. Martin Tinkler with two wins and Simon Achurch a win and a second place were well supported by Ken Baker, Sam Wilson and Tomas Saunourious all posting wins.
Becki Hall and Lydia Church followed suit in the ladies shot and both also recorded seconds in the discus and hammer respectively. Andrea Jenkins showed support with two second places despite a sore Achilles and Ellie Mae also recorded a throws second place.
Emily Maltby continued to prove a valued asset within the team recording wins in the long jump, 100m hurdles and triple jump along with second places in the 100m and the same relay. Trainee nurse Maria Hollingsworth came back from Manchester for the match which has been difficult this year due to her shift working, our loss being for the benefit of the young children she looks after. Lily Hughes found the 100m tough going but got a B string win and then recovered for the 200m where she dominated into the strong wind pulling ahead and away from the field to win the A string. Further wins for the ladies came from Emma Hornsby (long jump) and Devon Spencer (triple jump).
In the ladies’ man of the match awards, NVH took three of the top six places; Emma Hornsby was the lady of the match with her 5.86m long jump win. This is actually the second match in a row that Emma has achieved the accolade, a magnificent achievement. Becki Hall took third place with her shot putt win of 12.48m and Andrea Jenkins who only took just one throw in order to protect her Achilles with her second placed hammer throw of 45.83 achieved sixth.
In the men’s man of the match Martin Tinkler achieved third place with his winning shot putt of 8.48m.
The last event of the day epitomised the team spirit; the 400m relay. The ladies went first and young start Kelsi Ellis who had stepped up to the plate scoring in the 200m and 400m due to absentees led the way but found the strong wind too hard to stay in touch with Katie James from Milton Keynes, Claire Smith took over the running and held the gap with MK athlete belying her masters years. Lily Hughes then took over, an event twice her normal racing distance and closed the gap down from around 60m to 20m before passing the baton to Rosie Jacobs. Rosie who has recorded a great second place in the long hurdle event not only closed the remaining gap but took the lead before hitting the wind. She kept her form and took the team home two seconds clear of second place.
The men had a tough race with Jake Berney leading the way before passing over to Ollie Bowling. The leading Belgrave team was very strong and Sam hunt did all he could to keep the gap as small as possible. David Bush took the team home in second place but the support from the small stands at Norwich truly deserved the overall match win.
We had a couple of new comers to the league at this match and the feedback was true respect for the athletes of Nene Valley Harriers, the officials who have helped us all season, Mick Lynas, Andrea Chapman, Andy Hughes (despite a leg operation) and Ray and Brenda Church. These athletes all came over to say that they had really enjoyed the day and could not believe how the team pull together and support each other whatever the outcome. Both Tim Needham and I really enjoy managing these athletes and it was really good to finish on such a high.