SAL – Portsmouth Saturday 8th

Match report from Mike Robbins:

It was another hot Saturday as Newbury AC travelled down to Portsmouth for their fourth and penultimate Southern Athletics League fixture of the season. It was a three horse race all day long, but in the end Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow AC justified their position at the top of the league, taking the win with 234 points. The home club City of Portsmouth AC (218 points) narrowly edged out Newbury AC (216 points) for second place, with North Devon AC adrift at the bottom on 85 points.

The day started in comical fashion with Jemma Colbourne pulling up less than 100m into her 400m hurdles race. Any fears of injury soon disappeared as it became clear that the reason for stopping was a hurdle trolley left in her lane, blocking her path. Forced to re-run the race alongside the men, Jemma acquitted herself well, running a time that slotted her into third place in the ladies race and beating two of the male runners in the process! She couldn’t quite keep up with the Newbury pairing of Sam Plumb and Matt Davies though, who took a dominant double victory to start the day on a high.

Next up on the track was the 800m, where Yaz Ryder judged the race perfectly to take the A string victory, with Emma Downie chasing hard down the home straight, but narrowly missing out on the B string win, having to settle for second. A gutsy performance from Mike Robbins saw him set a new PB of 2:02.1 to take second place in the men’s A race.

Over in the field, Phil Carter had a very successful day of jumping. Using the Fosbury Flop technique for the first time took him to third place in the B string high jump with a season’s best performance, but showed potential for much more to come over the remainder of the season. Phil went on to set personal bests in the long jump, pole vault and the triple jump – a distance of 11.72m in the latter earning him third place in the A string. Phil was supported in the jumps by Dan Tuttle, struggling with illness but securing vital points for the team, and Reuben Langdon showing his versatility with a second place in the B string triple jump.

In the sprints Sam Plumb had a strong victory in the 200m, while a photo finish gave him the nod over his Windsor training partner in the 110m hurdles A race, in a new PB time of 14.9s. Under 17 Bo Stewart attempted the same double as Sam, recording PBs in both the 200m and 100m hurdles, taking second place A in the latter.

Helen Broadbridge was the star performer in the ladies throws, winning the A string hammer with a distance of 52.73m – over twice that of any of her rivals. Against very strong competition, Helen also took second place in the discus and javelin, and third in the shot putt. In the men’s equivalent, Jamie Kuehnel matched Helen to take a dominant A string win in the hammer, along with a closer fought A string win in the discus and second place in the shot. Ryan Hill was throwing competitively for the first time, and was delighted to win the B string discus, while Bruce Bamber and Dan Tuttle matched that result in the B string hammer and javelin respectively.

The hot weather made it tough for distance running, but Phil Marshall didn’t seem to mind, taking second place in the 3000m A and going one better in the 1500m B. In true sibling rivalry, Phil’s sister Emily Craggs copied his result exactly in the women’s 1500m B string. James Craggs made his return from three months out injured in the best possible fashion, winning the 3000m B race. Jess Franklin made a strong kick at the bell in the 5000m, but couldn’t quite hold the lead, finishing just half a second behind the winner in the A race, while Catherine Tuttle survived a lonely run in the heat to finish second B. The cooling waters of the steeplechase were a welcome sight for Sophie Fowler (A), Emily Craggs (B) and Mike Robbins (A) who all finished second in their respective races, while Wayne Lillis went one better to win the men’s B string.

George Biggs, Rhys Ainsworth, Vladimir Tsagov, Lilly Gohara, Linda Pitts, Jenny O’Connor, Sam Dredge, Sara Rudd and Roz Pearson all added vital points to the team, while Simon Barrett stepped into the team at the last minute to cover an athlete stuck in the traffic chaos on the south coast.

As the day drew to a close, both Newbury men’s relay teams took victory for the first time in the five seasons they’ve been in the Southern Athletics League. While this closed the gap, it wasn’t quite enough to steal second place from the home team, however Newbury AC can take heart from a strong showing against two British League clubs. With the final round fixture in Aldershot on 19th August, promotion now seems a stretch at this attempt, but while still mathematically possibly, Newbury AC will be sure to fight for every last point remaining.

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