A weakened team battled to win a very tight 2nd SAL match at Mile End. At the end of the afternoon the unofficial result had WGEL just 1 point behind Kent AC, just ahead Ashford and Dartford. However several days later the official result has been adjusted to a Woodford win by 2 points from Kent, with Ashford edging Dartford for 3rd.
In an early start to the day for the hammer throwers, Chiara Okereke impressed with 47.34. She followed up with success in the shot and B string javelin to be the top individual scorer for the team. Peter Clarke took the mens hammer in the male performance of the match (53.15), ahead of Fergus Harford, before taking the B shot behind Hugh Williams' final round winning put. Indeed Woodford won 11 of the 12 strings of heavy throws, with the discus double of Precious Hamilton and Abigail Allen matched by Christopher Linque and Devon Douglas in the final event to finish.
Discus winner: Chris Linque (pic: Alex Wardle)
The jumps were covered by just 4 athletes. Club stalwarts Peter Kirabo and UKWAL team manager Keith Newton had barely recovered from their efforts ensuring an almost full team sheet for the BAL match last weekend in Swansea. Peter took the triple jump (13.21), with M50 Keith winning the B and each also runner-up in the long jump. Clubwoman of the year Rebecca Fafowora did her first league long jump alongside Larrisa Anipa, whose B string win in 4.51 was one of her 3 PBs in each of the jumps.
With the exception of the women's sprints, individual success was harder to come by on the track than the field. U17M Ben Sloan was the only A string male winner in the 1500m, with a big PB of 4:05.87 ahead of a large field in the double header fixture, with Ahmed Abdulle taking the B. Eloise Lewis just took the 100m ahead of her training partner and new second claim member Sophie Anderson (12.83 PB) and well ahead of the rest of the field. Katie Skelding won the 200m in her first race since the birth of her second child, with Eloise also ahead of the other clubs, but notably quicker in the non-scoring race was U17W Sophie (26.27 =PB). The three combined with Rebecca Fafowora to take the 4x100m, with the rest of our match well behind. For the men, Winfred Hakeem stepped up to place second in both the 100 and 200, in PBs of 11.20 and 23.11 respectively.
Eloise Lewis: 100m winner (pic: Alex Wardle)
Ben Sloan this winter: the talented U17 won the Senior Men's 1500m (pic: Sally Chapman)
Woodford’s strength in depth was demonstrated in a new event, the mixed 4x400m relay, where a double win was needed to keep the match alive. Despite injuries and athletes needing to leave due to the overrun in the double fixture, both teams scored maximum points. Videsh Weerakkody ran a strong first leg to bring the baton through in front for the second team, but Samanta Bendaraviciute ran her first leg as the team needed. Paul Scanlan then stormed through from the back of the field to a 10 second lead thanks to a 50.7 split. It is unclear whether it was a tactical masterstroke for Paul to run against a full slate of women athletes or he just wanted to overtake his partner Becky Wilby. The A team maintained a comfortable lead thanks to Louise Gilbert before Adrian Richards stretched away to a clear win in 3:52.79. As importantly debuts over the 400m distance by Rebecca Fafowora and Winfred Hakeem were sufficient for a B team win too, which left the match result in doubt until all events were confirmed.
Given the understrength team, which was ravaged by exam pressures and fixture congestion, the result was a pleasing one as it takes the club out of the relegation zone. A more complete team may be needed for the next match, at Stevenage on Saturday 15 June, in order to enable the club to enjoy the final 2 fixtures at home without any threat of a drop out of division 2.