NAL 4 - Final Round at Copthall

The final “hybrid” version of this season’s COVID affected NAL fixtures took place at the Stonex Stadium (Barnet Copthall) on Saturday. Woodford had a weakened team with some gaps (as did the other teams) across the board due to injuries, illness or more general unavailability. Team wise Woodford finished 3rd on the day and full divisional results are outstanding but Woodford went into this final round of fixtures in 4th place nationally amongst the 16 Premier Division Clubs in the NAL and subject to confirmation look likely to have remained in 4th place. However, despite the weakened squad there were some outstanding individual performances including personal bests for U/20’s Nabil TezkrattYemi Mary John, Gwen Datey, Jessica Adams, Medwin Odamtten and Merveilles Massembo, together with an outstanding 4x100m performance from the women’s team which consisted of three U/20 and one U/17 athlete and bettered the Woodford U/20 record which had stood for 24 years by 0.75 secs. It was also pleasing to see Commonwealth Games steeplechase finalist Adam Kirk-Smith back in action for the Club.

Nabil Tezkratt’s personal best came over 400m where he finished very strongly to win and improve his best by 0.44 secs to record 47.41 secs, just outside Vincent Ogedengbe’s Club U/20 record of 47.39 secs. Frustratingly for Nabil, who might well have run faster, he and another athlete lost significant ground at the start as seemingly they did not hear the starter’s “Set” command but nevertheless the gun was fired. Also, in that 400m race Paul Scanlan was pleased to be back under 50 secs as his season’s best of 49.96 secs was 3rd in the “B”. Yemi Mary John, the European U/20 silver medallist over 400m, stepped down to 200m and in a good quality race she placed 2nd in a new personal best of 24.16 secs (+0.3). Yemi Mary later ran the final leg on the 4x100m team together with Gwen Datey, Shona Vincent (U/17) and Kyra Boyce that recorded an outstanding Club U/20 record of 46.91 secs. That mark is the 2nd fastest this season by any U/20 team in the UK, bettered only by the GB U/20 Team and faster than that recorded by the England Team at the recent Manchester International. Each of the other girls in that relay squad had also raced earlier; Shona Vincent was close to her recent personal best over 100m as she placed 2nd in the “A” race in 12.05 secs (+0.3), Gwen Datey was first “B” scorer with 12.16 secs (+0.3), improving her personal best by 0.11 secs, and was also first in the “B” 200m with 25.39 secs (+0.7). Kyra Boyce had earlier placed 3rd in a good women’s 400m with 57.74 secs. Jasmine Mitchell was 2nd in the “B” with 58.37 secs, and later Yemi Mary, Jasmine, Temi Olusesan and Kyra combined to place 2nd in the 4x400m with 4m04.65 secs.

Other performances on the track for the Woodford women were a 3rd place for Louise Gilbert over 800m with 2m16.62 secs, a fine debut over 1500m for U/20 Beatrice Wood to win with 4m35.92 secs and a 2nd and 1st over 3000m for U/20 Jessica Adams and Rachel Lund with times of 11m06.70 secs and 11m17.74 secs respectively. Jessica's time was a personal best.In the field, despite missing athletes, the team rallied round to ensure most events were covered. Lucy Marshall started proceedings with a season’s best in the hammer to place 2nd with 58.13m with recent English Schools Champion Simbi Sikiru placing 2nd in the “B” with her only valid mark of 44.57m. Lucy also covered the shot where she was 2nd with 11.11m and the javelin where she was 3rd with 22.96m. Emma Botham also covered those events, placing 2nd in the “B” of each with 9.87m and 22.71m respectively. Emma had earlier competed in her specialist event, the Discus, where she was 3rd with 41.58m as Precious Hamilton placed 2nd in the "B" with 38.32m. The team was short of jumpers, but multi-eventer Amelia MacDonald was as solid as ever clearing 1.55m in the high jump for 4th and  later 5.05m (0.0) for 2nd in the LJ, where Temi Olusesan placed 3rd in the “B”.

Medwin Odamtten’s personal best came in a good standard 100m race where Medwin, just a first year U/20, led the field at 30m before finishing 4th but in so doing he significantly improved his personal best by 0.12 secs to 10.78 secs  (+1.9). Prior to this season his best was 11.46 secs. Medwin also recorded a further personal best of 22.26 secs (0.0) in placing 3rd over 200m. Merveilles Massembo, also an U/20, covered the “B” sprints with 4th in the 100m with 11.14 secs (+0.6) and 3rd over 200m with 23.14 secs (+0.8). Lacking several usual jumpers Merveilles helped out in both the triple and high jumps where his marks of 12.27m (a personal best) and 1.60m placed 2nd in the “A” and 3rd in the “B” respectively. Joba Ashiru, who had been forced to miss much preparation with injury and then illness, nevertheless cleared 1.85m in the “A” high jump for 4th and was also 4th in the “B” long jump. Samuel Oshodi another U/20 placed 3rd in the "A" long jump with 6.30m but a hamstring issue prevented him from completing all his jumps and ruled him out of the triple jump. Women’s team manager Keith Newton stepped in at the last minute to cover the “B” triple jump and his 11.36m was 3rd. Best result on the day amongst the jumpers was from Nathan Gardner who won the Pole Vault with a season’s best 4.50m. In the middle distances, Ben Potrykus picked up two good second places, in the 800m with 1m50.50 secs and later in the 1500m with 3m52.45 secs. In the “B” 1500m Adam Kirk-Smith was also 2nd with 3m54.84 secs. It was good to see Adam, whose last serious track season was in 2018 when he placed 8th in the Commonwealth Games steeplechase, back in action for the club, and earlier he had run in his specialist event. Adam found himself against current UK Champion Mark Pearce who had got the better of our own Phil Norman in those championships and ended up a close 2nd with 8m51.13 secs. Tom Beedell covered the “B” and finished 2nd with 11m26.16 secs. Over 5000m, which was a high standard and won in under 14m, Paul Martelletti was 3rd with 15m26.94 secs and Josh Entwistle was 2nd in the “B” with a season’s best of 15m30.74 secs.

In the field and in the hammer, Ciaran Wright was 2nd with 63.24m and Andy Frost won the “B” with a season’s best of 61.01m which, for the former UK number one but now a recent M40, was a Scottish best for that age group. Ciaran also competed well in the shot, where he recorded a season’s best 14.57m for 2nd in the “B” as the current UK number two, Youcef Zatat, took the “A” with 17.14m. Youcef had earlier placed 3rd in the discus with 43.07m as Chris Linque was  also 3rd in the “B” with 40.80m. In the javelin two stalwart vets performed well. Simon Bennett, a winner last weekend at the British Masters Championships, was 4th in the “A” with a season’s best of 54.86m and former international decathlete Paul Howard, now an M50, threw the javelin for the first time since 2018 and placed 2nd in the “B” with 46.26m. Paul had earlier picked up useful points with a third in the “B” pole vault.

Both the relay squads were competitive, and the 4x100m team consisted of four U/20’s, Nabil Tezkratt, Medwin Odamtten, Marveilles Massembo and Mathew Adum-Yeboah and were third with 42.27 secs. There was certainly scope for improved baton changing and with that they could certainly challenge the club U/20 record of 42.0 secs. The 4x400m team of Nabil, Joba Ashiru, Paul Scanlan and Adrian Richards finished a close 3rd with 3m24.4 secs (ht). Adrian had earlier run as a non-scorer in the 200m where he was just outside his season's best with 23.39 secs (+0.8).