Woodford’s men’s team entered the final BAL Premiership fixture of the season, knowing they had to either beat Newham on the day but also by 6 match points, or Enfield by two places and 16 match points to maintain their Premiership status. In the end a strong all-round performance saw them just lose out to Birchfield as they placed 2nd on the day with 339.5 points to Birchfield’s 345. Behind Woodford, Newham scored 317.5 for 3rd and Enfield were back in 7th with 203. Woodford, in the end, placed 5th in the Premiership table, with Birchfield taking the title, and Enfield joining the already relegated Glasgow back into the National Division One. Good weather at Lee Valley ensured there were many high standard performances with several stadium records being broken.
Amongst many fine performances from Woodford athletes were those in the first event of the day, the hammer, where there was a double win for Mark Dry and Andy Frost that got the team off to a great start.
Mark Dry (left, courtesy of Adi Royle), who is due to fly out to Japan on Monday for the British training camp ahead of the World Championships in Beijing later this month, got the team off to a winning start as he took the hammer with a throw of 72.12m. And Andy Frost comfortably took the “B” string with 64.98m.
The next event was the long jump where Ezekiel Ewulo, a week after setting a new Club record in the long jump, placed 2nd with 7.48m (+0.9), with Tosin Oke taking the “B” with 7.13m. Tosin, another due to compete in Beijing, later took the triple jump with 16.59m w (+2.2), and Thalasong Tshireletso ensured another double with 15.22m w (+2.2) to win the “B”.
In the high jump Robert Wolski, having cleared 2.20m warming up, was understandably disappointed with his 3rd= with 2.10m in the competition. But in the “B”, where Shyane Dewar had to stand in at the last minute, he gained valuable points with 1.85m for 3rd - a personal best. The Pole Vault saw the Woodford athletes not at their best but nevertheless there was a clearance of 4.40m for Dan Gardner for 5th= in the “A” and Nikko Hunt was 6th= in the “B” with 4.0m. The discus saw Tom Norman competing for the first time this season and his welcome return with 49.54m placed him 5th in the “A” with Chris Linque 4th in the “B” with 43.22m. In the shot Anthony Oshodi was close to his season’s best with 16.79m for 2nd and, missing Youcef Zatat on international duty in Portugal, Devon Douglas stepped in and with 12.70m was 5th in the “B”. Simon Bennett placed 4th in the javelin with 55.98m and in the “B” Jay Boddington placed 2nd with a season’s best of 54.46m.
Proceedings on the track got underway with the 400mH and, in high standard races, in the “A”, European junior representative Jack Lawrie was 4th in a personal best of 51.52 secs, whilst in the “B” there was also a personal best for Ewan Dyer as he placed 2nd with 52.10 secs. Jack later ran in the 110mH where he placed 6th with 15.19 secs (-1.2), as Jack Lochans gained an important point by filling the “B’ string. European junior 100m silver medallist Joseph Dewar looked in great form as he comfortably won the 100m with 10.39 secs (-0.8), with Omololu Abiodun placing 2nd in the ‘B’ with 10.75 secs (-0.2). Omololu then placed 4th in the 200m with 21.63 secs (-2.3) into a strong headwind as Jermaine Hamilton was 5th in the “B” with 21.88 sces (-2.6).
The 400m races were also of a high standard, with Alex Bell placing 6th in the “A” with 48.32 secs, whilst in the “B” Vincent Ogendengbe finished strongly to place 2nd in a season’s best of 47.63 secs. In the 800m another European junior representative, Daniel Rowden, looked a little jaded after a long and very fine season as he placed 8th in the “A” with 1m53.56 secs, whilst in the “B” and after leading for most of the race Nathan Wake finished 3rd with 1m54.20 secs. The steeplechase saw Ryan McKinlay back in action and with better form to record 9m40.45 secs, for 2nd in the “B”, but he was not able to get the better of “A” string man Tomaz Plibersek (left), who placed 6th in the "A" with 9m34.75 secs. The 1500m saw James Stockings get the better of Tom Phillips for the fist time as he placed 5th in the “A” with 3m54.36 secs, with Tom 2nd in the “B” with 3m55.40 secs. The final individual track event, the 3000m, also brought good points with two second places as Ed Shepherd, a few days before setting off to San Francisco in the US for University, recorded 8m21.98 secs with Gavin Lewis recording 8m37.48 secs.
The final events were the relays and the 4x100m squad of Justin Duru, Omololu Abiodun, Jermaine Hamilton and Joseph Dewar had a fine win in 40.49 secs, the fastest time by a club team in the UK this season. The 4x400m team of Nathan Wake (50.11 secs), Alex Bell (48.80 secs), Michael Baker (49.74 secs) and Jack Lawrie (49.41 secs) placed 5th with 3m18.06 secs.
Team manager Gladys Bird was very pleased with the athletes’ response to supporting this final fixture and the great team spirit displayed on the day fixture ensuring as it did BAL Premiership competition in 2016.