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Southern Athletics League Aldershot

 After the first match of this season when Invicta fielded just 2 competitors team manager John Gilbert warned that the club's continued participation in this league was in doubt. It is therefore very pleasing to report that, thanks to a big effort by the Management Committee to encourage coaches and athletes to support this competition, and a decision to provide a coach for the 2nd round, a team of 12 men and 3 women plus our ever reliable official Gilien Davison and club coach Marianne Underwood travelled to Aldershot on 17/5 and had a thoroughly enjoyable and successful day.

As many of the team were U20s and experiencing senior level competition for the first time their performances were particularly encouraging. In the men's squad Connor Howard (U20) placed 5th in the “A” string 100m (12.5); 4th in the 200m (25.8) and also ran in the 4x100m relay squad who placed 4th (51.5). Dylan Rigby (U20) finished 3rd in the “B” 200m (24.3 PB) before excelling in the “A” 800m where he missed 1st place by only 0.1 sec and improved his PB by over 2secs (1-55.3). Dylan also ran in both relays and saved possibly his best performance of the afternoon for the 4x400m where he anchored the squad to 5th place ( 3-48.1)with a storming leg of 51.9!!

Jack Goss (U20) was equally impressive in his events. In the “A” 400m he placed 3rd (53.2 PB) and then won the “B” 800m (1-57.0 PB) before contributing the opening leg in the 4x400m ( 55.7). Jack also demonstrated his versatility by placing 2nd in the “B” Jav (33.2 PB). Recent newcomer to the club Abel Tsegay (U20) made a very impressive debut, winning the “A” 3k (8-45.7) and very modestly said afterwards that he was “pleased” with this performance. Abel also ran in the 4x400m and was timed at 59.2. Bobby Harrop (U20) contributed valuable points when placing 4th in the “B” 400m (58.5 SB) and running in both relays and recording 61.30 in the 4x400m.

As the youngest in our men's team Jamie Carley (U17) was restricted by league rules to 3 track events and 1 relay. This was probably just as well as he was so enthusiastic that he was volunteering to do practically everything!! In “B” events he was 4th in the 100m (13.1) and 3rd in the LJ (4.48). In the “A” he was 5th in the 1500m (4-38.7). Jamie also ran in the 4x100m relay. He tells me that all of these were PBs..... as he was doing them for the 1st time, and that his biggest problem on the day was pinning his numbers onto his vest without the help of his mother!!

Our senior men were also in good form. In “A” events Tim Corby placed 3rd in the “A” 3ks/c (10-17.0) which was a PB by 7 secs. In “A” events Diego Cantoni won the LJ (5.85) and placed 5th in the TJ (10.42) and 4th in the Jav (33.47).

“Ironman” Lee Rogers was possibly even a little frustrated by the fact that he was “restricted” to only 4 scoring events (he did 13 in the 1st match!!). In the “A” hurdles he was 2nd in the 110m (21.8) and 3rd in the 400m (66.5). He then came 4th in the 1500m (5-12.1) and 3rd in the 3ks/c (13-16.8) but still feeling “full of running” he decided to guest in the 400m (57.70!!). You just can`t keep a good man down!!

Moving on just a few years in age....!! It was excellent to have Michael Gallyer- Barnett (M45) with us for the 1st time. Michael placed 3rd in the “B” 3k (12-04.0) and then, in the absence of other “volunteers”, did the “A” HJ . His 5th place (1-20) was a very respectable debut in an event which he had never done before and augers well for the future. It was also good to have David Glendower (M45) back in the team where he placed 5th in both the “A” Hammer (23.63) and Shot (7.50) and was 3rd in the “B” Discus (20.61). Completing the men's team (and raising the average age significantly) was John Gilbert (M70) who was 5th in the “A” Discus (21.21) and 3rd in the “B” Shot (6.97) and 1st in the Hammer (22.99).

Our 3 women competitors were also “1st timers” in this league and did extremely well. Lilly Coward (U20) contesting “A” events finished 3rd in the 400m (65.3), 2nd in the 1500m (5-13.5) and 5th in the HJ (1.30). Amy Old (U20) raced to 2nd in the “A” 3k (10-38.7) and joined Lilly in the HJ placing 3rd in the “B” (1.20). Lydia Gallyer-Barnett (U17) won the “B” 1500m (5-22.8) and then, following her dad's lead, also tried the HJ for the 1st time (as a guest) and managed 0.90m. Well done Lydia and our other 2 women. I'm sure there's more to come.

As luck would have it in this match we came up against probably the 4 strongest teams in our division. So to finish 5th among the 6 competing clubs was very satisfying. It made such a difference to have the numbers that we did, not only because we could cover more events but because we could encourage and support each other. I truly hope that this match represents a turning point in the fortunes of our SAL team and that numbers can be sustained, and even increased, for all future fixtures-particularly among the women. For those who weren't at the match and are considering getting involved but are as yet undecided......PLEASE talk to those who were there and let them tell you what the experience was like. Then come and join us!!

Our 3rd match is on Sat 21st June at Lewes. The “sign-up” sheet will be on the notice board shortly plus other match details. I'll be at training sessions on Thursday - do talk to me about any matters or e-mail me if you prefer.

 Yours in Sport   John Gilbert    01843 862520     johnandclairegilbert@hotmail.com