Monday, May 9, 2016

Are we on a roll - or what!

Three league matches done - three wins! How cool is that?

Yesterday's Midland League match - Division One, folks! - was probably the greatest challenge and the greatest surprise win. It's always a challenge when you come up against Birchfield Harriers. They are an enormous club and well accustomed to winning. Their athletes kind of take over the stadium with their infectious enthusiasm and sense of entitlement - they were here to win!!!!

But they didn't. Yate and Bristol athletes kept racking up the points and there was a genuine sense of OMG when Ellen read out the 'scores on the doors' - as she so originally calls them. It was always us or Birchfield. Then in the final relays they swept the board. They have such strength in depth that they can put out teams of four sprinters all day long and still have good runners in reserve. But it wasn't enough. In the final tally we were 12 precious points ahead of them and the match was won.

What was particularly striking was how prominent Yate athletes were on the track. Sure, there were some good Bristol people competing, but the bulk of the heavy lifting was being done by our youngsters.

I use that word deliberately because many of the athletes who did so well yesterday are still under-17 - running here as seniors, or throwing the heavier weights.

The race that stood out for me - and I suspect for many others too - was the women's 1500m. Hannah Hobbs (still under-17, let's remember) took the lead from the gun and threatened to stretch away. The Birchfield lady had other ideas and caught her soon after the bell. Most people watching will have thought that was it, but Hannah fought back, overtook her on the back straight, then was overtaken herself on the top bend. I for one thought it was all over. But Hannah had other ideas and fought back in the most determined piece of middle distance running we are likely to see all season. She simply refused to be beaten and took the race on the line.

When you work as a starter you only see glimpses of what is happening in the field, and there did seem to be some terrific throwing going on: hammers sailing out to enormous distances, discoi (the proper Greek plural in case you're wondering) sailing beautifully from experienced hands, javelins landing beyond the half way point of the infield.

Throwing for us were our very promising crop of young hammer throwers, but also two older Yate members. Karen Jones is proud to call herself a senior athlete but here threw a PB against younger opposition. Danny Williams has had his problems in the recent past but here - as he put it himself on Noseybook - "better at 42 than he was at 20". That's not to take away from Chloe who also threw a PB - or from Matt Spicer, who stepped up to do his bit.

Meanwhile, over in Florida Mark Lodge is having the time of his life, hobnobbing with Prince Harry and a bunch of disabled athletes. Well worth befriending him on Noseybook to take in his envy-inducing photos from the Invictus Games.

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