Copthall Stadium was the venue for the final BAL fixture of the 2017 season on Sunday. Later in the month than would normally be the case due to the London World Championships, all teams were weaker than usual, but there was nevertheless some good competition in the sometimes blustery conditions. Woodford placed a very good second the day with 290 points, behind comfortable winners Birchfield on 367, and ahead of Newham 285.3, TVH 272, Sheffield 264, Shaftesbury 261, Liverpool 227.3, and Southampton 225.3. That result meant Woodford finished 3rd overall in the Premiership table as Birchfield's fourth win of the season saw them comfortable overall league winners on 32 points, ahead of Newham 24, Woodford 22, Shaftesbury 19.5, Sheffield 17, TVH 16.5, Southampton 8 and Liverpool 5. Whilst all athletes contributed, with many doubling up or more, it was in the field that the foundations for the strong performance were laid. There were individual wins for Ezekiel Ewulo, Anton Dixon, Tosin Oke, and Peter Kirabo, and on the track from Daniel Rowden and Phil Norman.
Photos (by Alex Wardle)
The meeting as always started with the hammer, and Andy Frost, who has been struggling somewhat with injury seemed to have a pain-free competition and placed 3rd with 62.76m, with Peter Clark also 3rd in the "B". The long jump saw Ezekiel Ewulo win with 7.27m (+0.8), and Anton Dixon also took the "B" with 7.04m w (+2.4). Tosin Oke then took a close triple jump competition with 15.51m (+0.3), with Peter Kirabo also winning the "B" with 13.47m (+1.1). In the high jump, Robert Wolski placed 3rd with 2.03m, and with other specialists out injured, Shayne Dewar cleared a token 1.30 for 7th in the "B". In the pole vault U/20 Nathan Gardner cleared an outdoor p.b. of 4.78m to place 4th, with vet and former international decathlete Paul Howard called into action to get "B" string points placing 5th with 2.68m. Paul was also in javelin action and he placed 3rd in the "B" with 46.49m, with James Bongart 4th in the "A" with 58.91m. Anthony Oshodi, who is currently working overseas, was in action for the first time this season and in the shot he placed 4th with 15.10m, as Devon Douglas was also 4th in the "B" with 12.85m. Devon had earlier placed 6th in the discus with 47.77m and Chris Linque was 3rd in the "B" with 42.81m.
Daniel Rowden's victory came on the track over 800m where, against a decent field, and off a very slow first lap he was able to comfortably kick away from the field to win in 1m54.42 secs. Nathan Wake, who hasn't raced due to injury for more than a year, agreed to help out and cover the "B" and he placed 7th with 2m01.28 secs. Phil Norman's win came in the steeplechase where he comfortably ran away from the field over the last couple of laps recording 9m05.23 secs, remarkably not long after covering the 400mH where he placed 4th in the "B" with a very respectable 55.29 secs, a personal best. Behind Phil, Tomaz Plibersek ran well in the"B" gaining 2nd place on the run in in 10m 02.47 secs. Just 50 mins later Phil was back on the track again in the 1500m and, probably grateful for the initial slow pace, finished a fine second with 3m56.09 secs, as Ed Shepherd was 3rd in the "B" with 4m01.85 secs. Paul Martelletti made sure the 5000m didn't become too tactical as he took on the pace mid-race, and soon reduced the leading group to just three but, not surprisingly for a man whose best distances are marathon or even longer, Paul just lost out over the final lap or so and placed third with 14m37.94 secs. Angus Holford filled the "B" spot and ran a very sensible, even-paced race, picking off athletes over the second half to place 2nd and be rewarded with a personal best of 15m13.66 secs. Shayne Dewar took the "A" string 100m, but after his blocks slipped, he aggravated a slight groin injury and ended up 8th with 11.80 secs (-1.9), and then was unable to contest his preferred 200m distance. Justin Duru showed decent form, and in the "B" 100m he placed 4th 11.15 secs (-1.7), before then stepping in to the 200m where he was 7th with 22.50 secs (-1.7), as Tom Holligan placed 5th in the "B" with 22.67 secs (+0.3). Missing any specialist 400m athletes Lalu Abiodun covered the "A" where he was 8th with 53.34 secs, and Ryan McKinlay the "B" where he was 7th with 53.30 secs, having earlier in the absence of specialist hurdlers covered both the 400mH and 110mH.
The relay teams were somewhat makeshift but contributed important points to ensure the overall second place, Nathan Gardner, Lalu Abiodon, Tom Holligan and Justin Duru were 7th in the 4x100m with 44.17 secs, and in the 4x400m, Lalu Abiodun, Justin Duru, Tom Holligan and Angus Holford were also 7th.
Team Manager Gladys Bird was very pleased with both the day's result and the overall League standing which in third was a repeat of the 2016 finish, and grateful for all the athletes' contributions this season, and notably those that filled in to ensure points were gained outside of their specialist events.