The BAL’s “Big Saturday” took place at Bedford this weekend, with all 5 divisions present at the venue. Last year, the first for this experimental format, was full of controversy, with the meeting over-running by more than 2 hours. This year, blessed with good weather, the meeting ran better, but not perfectly. The track timetable was largely adhered to but the high jump ran significantly late as did some other field events. But on the whole and, despite problems with producing the Premierships final results, it was a much better fixture than last year’s version.
The good weather, and favourable winds for the sprints resulted in many good performances across the divisions, including from Woodford athletes, where a superb all-round team effort saw Woodford place second on the day. The Premiership fixture was very close at the top, where Birchfield again ran out winners on 340 points, from Woodford 325, Shaftesbury 317, NEB 310, Sheffield 248, TVH 248, Cardiff 228 and Swansea who had a very poor turn out on 119. That leaves the League standings Birchfield 24, Shaftesbury 18, Woodford 16, Sheffield 15.5, Newham 11, Cardiff 11, TVH 9.5 and Swansea 3. In what was another very solid all-round team effort with many athletes doubling or more, Woodford performances were led by double wins for Phil Norman (3000m and “B” 800) and Jack Lawrie (400mH and "B" 110mH) and other wins for Cameron Fillery and Canaan Solomon.
Tosin Oke: Not 100% but 3rd in the 'A' Triple Jump (photo: Alex Wardle)
Jack Lawrie got Woodford off to a winning start in the day's first track race as he won a close encounter over 400mH in a time of 51.22 secs. Later Jack raced over the flat 400m and placed 2nd in that “B” event with 48.56 secs, and then took victory in the “B” 110mH in a season’s best of 14.59 secs (w?). Cameron Fillery took “A” string victory in the 110mH, equalling his personal best for the third time in recent weeks as he recorded 14.08 secs (w?). Phil Norman, who had doubled at s/ch and 1500m in the earlier fixtures, this time raced just on the flat, first over 3000m where, after a slow start, the second 1500m of the race was run in 4m flat with Phil out-sprinting 7m.59 man Jake Shelley to take victory in 8m17.84 secs, a personal best. Later, Phil again showed his versatility and dropped down in distance covering the “B” 800m. Here after a slowish opening lap which Phil covered in around 57 secs, Phil ran away from the field over the last 150m to comfortably win by 1.4 secs in 1m51.83 secs, another personal best. The “A” 800m was also a tactical race which saw Ewan Dyer at the bell outside 59 secs. Ewan, still new to 800m running after previously specialising at 400mH, ran a fine tactical race and finished strongly to place second against many athletes with superior PBs and recorded 1m54.82 secs.
Canaan Solomon, who the previous weekend had placed 6thin the senior British Championships over 800m, raced over 1500m and, off a slow pace, finished very strongly to take victory in 3m56.61 secs. Ed Shepherd also ran well to take second in the “B” with 3m59.36 secs. Ed had earlier raced over 3000m and he also scored well there as he placed third in the "B" with 8m27.82 secs. The steeplechase was covered by Angus Holford and Ryan Mckinlay and, although neither are currently at their fittest, they battled well in the heat, with Angus getting the better of Ryan in the closing stages to place 7th with 10m12.10 secs, with Ryan recording 10m19.82 secs for 4th in the “B”. Ryan had earlier covered the “B” 400mH where he placed 7th with 64.45 secs.
The sprints were run with tailwinds and there were some fast times across the various divisions, Chris Stone and Shayne Dewar covered both, with Chris placing 5th in the “A” 100m and 6th in the “B” 200m recording 10.67 secs (+0.2) and 21.47 secs (+1.7) respectively. Shayne was 5th in each “B” race with 10.88 secs w (+2.1) and 21.78 secs w (+2.1). Over 400m, where times were hampered somewhat by the strong headwind in the back straight, Alex Bell finished very strongly to get up for 4th in the “A” with 49.71 secs.
In the field, in a strong shot competition, the result was the same as in the British Championships with Youcef Zatat placing 2nd to Scott Lincoln with 17.72m, and it was pleasing to have Anthony Oshodi, who is currently teaching overseas, back in action and, although short of practice, his 14.25m placed 4th in the “B”. Missing specialists, Youcef again covered the javelin and recorded another personal best of 56.52m for 6th with Paul Howard 4th in the “B” with 46.83m. In the hammer Andy Frost was 5th with 58.97m and in the “B” Peter Clarke was 4th with 48.67m. The discus saw improved form from Chris Linque who reached 48.08m for 6th with Devon Douglas back in action after injury with 42.66m for 3rd in the “B”. All the jumps scored good points, firstly in the long jump where Sam Khogali was 4th with 7.21m (+1.9) and Lawrence Davis was 2nd in the “B” with 6.76m (+0.3). Later Lawrence competed in his speciality, the triple jump, and his 15.33m w (+3.3) won the “B” string as Tosin Oke, despite not being 100% with a back problem, nevertheless jumped 15.86m (+1.3) which was 3rd in the “A”. Robert Wolski was in good high jump form, placing 2nd with a first time clearance over 2.10m, but then for precautionary reasons with a knee problem did not continue at 2.15m. In the pole vault it was good to have two specialists competing and Nathan Gardner’s 4.60m was 5th in the “A’ with debutant Mitch Etheridge placing 2nd in the “B” with 4.20m.
The final events, the relays, produced mixed fortunes with the 4x100m squad of Cameron Fillery, Chris Stone, Omololu Abioudun and Shayne Dewar not finishing after a mix-up on the second change, but the 4x400m squad of Ewan Dyer 50.8 secs, Canaan Solomon a fine 47.4 secs, Omolulo Abiodun 49.3 secs and Alex Bell 48.5secs fought strongly for 4th in 3m15.90 secs.
Team manager Gladys Bird was very pleased with the performances and with the final fixture to come will be hoping for another strong performance at Copthall on August 4th.