Southern Athletics League – 14th July, Andover

Report by Mike Robbins

Andover was the venue for a glorious sunny Southern Athletics League fixture, where despite home advantage, Newbury were just pipped to the win by the narrowest of margins. Yeovil Olympiads spent much of the day in second place, but snatched the win at the death with 200 points to Newbury’s 199.5, ahead of a hard chasing Radley on 189 and South London Harriers with 157.5.

The best team results came in the long distance events, which was perhaps surprising given the heat. Jess Franklin and Victoria Duncan were such a long way clear of the rest of the field in the 5000m that the only competition was between themselves. With nothing to separate them for the first eleven and a half laps, it was Jess who had the better kick, finishing in a PB time of 18:27.3, four seconds clear of Victoria. To further emphasise the club’s strength in this event, third place in the race was Georgie Offer, non-scoring for Newbury.

A similar domination was seen in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, where Mike Robbins opened up a good lead on the first lap, and never looked back, finishing a trouble free race with a PB time of 10:50.4, this despite the whole field facing an extra barrier on the first lap! Steve Elsmere had his own battle with the pack behind Mike, but came out on top to win the B string.

The evergreen Helen Broadbridge was the most successful individual athlete of the day, winning all three heavy throws, the highlight being a 55.70m effort in the hammer, her second longest throw of all time. Trinity O’Connor wasn’t far behind Helen for victories, notching up A string wins in both the high jump and pole vault. Trinity was joined in the latter by her mother Jenny, who won the B string to take home maximum points for Newbury.

Another maximum points haul was seen in the men’s 110m hurdles. With both strings run as a single race, Sam Plumb took a comfortable victory in 16.2s. Matt Davies had a storming first eight hurdles to stay on the shoulder of Sam, but a heavy clash with the penultimate hurdle knocked him to the ground, ending any hopes of a PB. Such was his lead in the B string though, that he managed to get up and compose himself over the final obstacle and hold on for the win. Matt had a less tumultuous time in the 400m hurdles to take his second B string victory of the day.

Jamie Kuehnel was back to somewhere near his best after a lengthy injury absence, winning the A string hammer at a fraction under 50m. There were further B string wins for James Craggs in the 3000m, Sam Dredge in the 400m and Ben Wickens in the javelin. Ben was filling in at short notice in a discipline he hadn’t tried since school days, so was delighted to take the B string victory with an impressive 33.22m. There was a similar team player attitude from Ryan Hill, covering all three heavy throws with great success despite never having picked up a hammer until three days before the meet. On top of that, Ryan stepped in at the last minute to cover the 400m and help avoid the possibility of a wasted point.

There were PBs for Laurence Bu-Rashid in the 100m with a superb time of 11.7s; Trinity O’Connor in the 100m hurdles with 19.5s; Sophie Fowler in the 1500m steeplechase with 5:52.3 and Mike Robbins in the pole vault with 1.95m. Craig Beecham made a welcome debut to the club in the triple jump.


Finally, a special thanks goes to all the Newbury officials, volunteers and helpers who made this home fixture not only possible, but a resounding success. Our final league match of the season is in Kingston on 18th August.

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