Southern Athletics League: Fixture 3 at Tooting

It was hot. Even at 11am as the first of the women’s hammer throwers were limbering over to the throwing area. LCAC weren’t represented but as the sun beat down over those first competitors, Rachel Collins and Dee Strang were already warmed up, stretched, poised and ready to go in the women’s long jump. A monster 4.65m jump from Rachel providing a 1st place finish in the A category and an impressive 2.05m jump from Dee providing a 2nd place finish in the B category put the first LCAC points on the board.

They didn’t have time to rest or even collect their bags as they rushed over to the women’s shot put. Not that this seemed to matter to Rachel who proceeded to win that as well with a 9.07m throw. Dee put in another strong performance to throw 4.77 meters to finish 3rd in the B category.

Meanwhile in the men’s hammer, Richard Jones was able to throw 17.68m to finish 3rd, falling just short of Courtney Green of Kent Athletic Club who threw 19.62m.

Much to the amusement of Tuesday evening Southwark Park track users, Bryan Maillardet has recently been seen finishing his sessions by repeatedly throwing himself over the high jump bar. It was no surprise then to see him arrive in a pair of oversized reflective aviator sunglasses ready to take flight in the men’s high jump. George Hudson who in the preceding week had decided to sign up to everything SAL had to offer was by his side. Despite being flabbergasted by competitors in the high jump wearing spikes, Bryan was able to clear 1.45 meters to finish 3rd in the B category. George who undoubtable had one eye on start line for the upcoming 800m managed to beat the next height of 1.5m to finish 3rd in the A category.

The 400m hurdles gave him enough respite to warm up the legs and get himself over to the start line for the first of the LCAC represented running events. Matt Speed ran a hard fought two laps (even if I do say so myself ;)) to finish in 2nd place in the A category with a time of 2.08. George was close behind with a time of 2.19 to come 2nd in the B category.

In the women’s 100m, Rachel Collins was extremely close to maintaining her 100% winning streak. Her rapid 13.7 seconds was beaten by a hair and a freckle by Kimberley Garcia, a talented U17 sprinter from Paddock Wood and Folkestone Running Club.

Onto the men’s long jump. George Hudson who was seemingly unaffected by his earlier exploits in the high jump and on the track was now launching himself into the sandpit. He managed to jump 4.85m to finish 3rd in the B category while Tommy Rushton finished his first event of the day with a 4.32m jump to come 4th in the A category.

With the event now well behind schedule and the sun scorching the track for arguably the most difficult event of the day; Heather Haggis was able to fly round the women’s 400m to finish 3rd with a time of 76.1 seconds.

Up next was Sandra Marie in the women’s 3000m. Not put off by an apparently “chatty Southwark parkrun”, Sandra went off like a rocket and managed to hold on for 3rd place in the A category with a time of 12:13.

Chris Raveney’s winning throw in the men’s javelin was Herculean. A 34.47m best by James Nichols of Cambridge Harriers made him look to be cruising. Chris was completely unperturbed by this and produced a 40.26m throw to win the event by a country mile.

With Koen Stockbroekx not available for the men’s 5000m, Calvin Mullings seized the opportunity to turn some recent impressive 5km times into track success. It worked and he finished comfortably in 2nd place in the A category with a time of 16.21. Tommy Rushton finished 3rd in the B category with a time of 18.05. Non scoring competitors Matt Speed and Fergal Dunne finished with times of 16.52 and 22.51 respectively. Despite also running at Parkrun earlier that morning Andrew Shreeve seemed anxious about a diminished weekly mileage after an afternoon of watching athletics in the sun. He decided to run the 5000m and cruise round with a time of 18.29.

Back to the sprint events. Rachel Collins continued her dominant form and came 2nd in the A category of the women’s 200m with a time of 27.8 seconds.

The men’s 200m was keenly anticipated as 15 year old Alpha Bangura was due to make his debut. Unaffected by the step up from some recent incredible performances at junior level, his warm up starts were met with impressed murmurs from those watching and unease by those lingering by the start marshal. He was quick. Really quick. Alpha finished 3rd in the A category with a time of 24.9 seconds, an impressive first race from a talented young sprinter with a promising future. It was encouraging to see the investment in LCAC’s young athletes paying dividends in senior competition.

Jo Tillman ran a well-judged and well-paced 1500m, negatively splitting to finish with a time of 6.08 and a 3rd place finish.

With Cian Cunningham unable to compete due to illness, Adam Millbery, who had already agreed to leave his Strava control centre for the day, was promoted into the A category. Bryan Maillardet meanwhile removed the aviators and agreed to fill in the now vacant B spot. Joe Jenkinson was running his first competitive race since coming back from a frustrating injury while James Screen completed a strong LCAC field.  Adam spent the majority of the race with Bryan breathing over his shoulder. Bryan resisted his usual tactic and urge to shout threateningly at those ahead of him and Adam held him off to finish 3rd in the A category with a time of 4.33. Bryan was 2nd in the B category in 4.37. Joe’s return to racing undoubtedly provided him with a confidence boost as he hammered home in 4.49. James Screen completed an impressive set of LCAC 1500 times by finishing with a tidy 4.53.

Tim Campion represented LCAC in the final field event of the day, the men’s discuss, where he finished 3rd in the A category with a throw of 34.36m.

The LCAC camp moved over to the finish line for the women’s 4 x 400m relay making the support disproportionate to the apparent small number of competitors and spectators. Rachel Collins kicked things off and flew out of the blocks. Who would have thought that she had won the second event of the day six hours earlier?! Jo Tillman was handed the baton and proceeded to run an impressive 1.21 lap. All the more impressive considering that she had only finished the 1500m an hour and a half earlier. Lynda Cameron was due to do an aquathlon the next day but this did not put her off turning up specifically to hammer out a competitive 1.18 third leg. Heather Haggis was handed the baton and ran a 1.17 lap to bring home third place for the ladies and a time of 5.02.

The men’s 400m relay was the running equivalent of the farmer, chicken, fox and bag of grain challenge. Bryan Maillardet did not feel confident having the baton handed to him so he had to run first. Matt Speed could not be handed the baton by Bryan because he would laugh meaning he couldn’t run second. Fortunately Tommy Rushton and James Screen were dynamic enough to fill in the gaps. Bryan’s first lap took a minute. Tommy and James ran 1.04 apiece and Matt Speed finished with a one minute lap. The boys finished 2nd with a time of 4.09.

LCAC finished with 77 points, not far behind Paddock Wood and Folkestone Running Club’s 79. Cambridge Harries ended up with 183 while Kent Athletics Club finished with 227. Nevertheless, some outstanding individual performances, promising signs of LCAC’s age group athletics feeding into the senior squad and by far the best support made for a top day at SAL for LCAC.

Matt Speed