Nene Valley Harriers’ depleted team triumphed against adversity when they battled to take second place at the penultimate Southern Athletics League meeting at Norwich on Saturday. (July 12)
There were several standout performances on a stiflingly hot day at the city’s university track, particularly from seniors David Bush and Pete Lewis.
Traditionally, decathletes compete in ten events over two days, but Bush and Lewis both stepped up to the plate to fill the gaps left by missing athletes in ten track and field disciplines each in just a matter of hours.
Bush’s best performance came in the long jump, where he leaped to a season’s best of 6m, shortly after recording his third fastest time for the 400m hurdles, crossing the line in second place in 56.8.
He also won the B 110m hurdles in 18.4 and came second in the shot put (9.63m), discus (29.09m) and B string 100m and 200m races (11.9 and 23.7), before also taking on the triple jump (9.47m) and both 100m and 400m relays!
Lewis, a former pole vaulter, competed in just about every other event apart from the vault, including heroic efforts in both the 3000m flat and steeplechase, as well as the 400m hurdles, the high jump, javelin, and the 800m to name but a few.
Toughing it out in the scoring men’s 1500m races were Adam Birch and 15 year-old Bradley Spurdens, whose times of 4:12.2 and 4:15.9 were both impressive PBs, while Ruth Jones got a life time best in the women’s race with 5:08.2 before competing in the 2000m steeplechase for the first time (8:19.7). Emma Penniston worked hard to compete in both the 3000m (12:03.8) and 1500m (5:22.1), while Cat Foley stormed to a fast 10.32.4 in the A string 3k.
Also competing in several more events than normal were Emily Maltby and Sean Reidy. Maltby excelled when winning the 100m (12.6), 100m hurdles (16.8) and triple jump (11.4m), while also performing well in the high jump and long jump, and Reidy dominated the 400m, winning in 51.3 before tackling the 110m hurdles, 100m, 200m and the triple jump.
More heroics came from young field eventer Ellie-Mae Stokes, who offered to step into the 400m if sprint specialist Natasha Segal didn’t make it through heavy traffic in time. Luckily for Stokes, her services were only required in the javelin and 100m hurdles (30.92m and 21.3), but the sentiment summed up the attitude of those athletes present.
Another thrower to step up to the mark was Andrea Jenkins, who after excelling to win her shot put (10.24m), discus (37.53m) and hammer (48.68m) competitions, she then ran a leg of the 400m relay. Kelly Lawrence did well to win her hammer and discus events (36.14m and 25.44m), and Segal achieved PBs in the 200m (26.2) and the 400m (61.0).
Every athlete who made the effort to travel to Norwich did their club proud, but the Harriers will need a complete team for the final fixture at Portsmouth on August 2 if they are to secure a place in the league’s first division going into the next season.