Monday, July 22, 2024

Athletics: team spirit key to success for Harriers

THURROCK’S mens track and field team rounded off their league programme in good style, by finishing 2nd in their fixture at Blackshots on Saturday.

Thurrock, who started the match in seventh place, faced three teams from above them in the 16 strong League, which made it a very competitive fixture.

Best of Thurrock’s 16 scoring athletes was Nick Houghton. He ran an excellent pb of 1m 58s to finish 2nd in the 800m and won the B string 400m but his best moment came on the last leg of the 4 x 400m relay.

He gave the Medway and Maidstone runner a 30m start but he overhauled him in a thrilling home straight battle to give the team victory. His performance edged Kent AC back into 3rd place in the team competition. Nick’s split time was 52m4s.

Victories were hard to come by all afternoon. It was frustrating to see newcomer, 16 year old Duane Jibonah throw the javelin a winning distance, but unable to score because his clearance from Eastbourne Rovers AC is not yet complete. Another winner was Matt Simson, the former Commonwealth shot put champion, who surprised himself by winning the hammer. In the shot his excellent 11.98m was good enough only for 4th place in what was one of the strongest competitions of the day.

The middle distance squad contributed strongly all afternoon. In the 800m Alec Finch made light of his lack of training recently and ran 2m2s to finish 2nd in the B race. Nick Houghton’s twin, Alex, pb’d in the 5,000m with 16m20s. Also in that race Dennis Cross,16m32.2s, and non-scorer Scott Rice 16m32.7s also returned pbs. Adam Essa made a pleasing return to the team to take 2nd place in the B 1500m.

Jumpers also contributed strongly with 19 out of a possible 24 points. Jamie Kensey finished 2nd in the long and triple jump. His 11.80 triple jump was a particularly note-worthy mark for the 16 year old Tilbury athlete. Akim Moronkeji’s 1.75m high jump landed him 2nd spot. Another 16 year old Damon Nugent was a good points scorer in the pole vault, high jump and 110m hurdles.

Yet again top points scorer for the match and the whole season was Michael Shortall. His 14 point contribution included a win in the B triple jump. The team man extraordinary had to be pulled from the start line of the 3000m steeplechase which he was prepared to take on just to get the 2 points on offer.

Frustration came for Ben Gibb. It’s two seasons since his best sprint form. In finishing 2nd on Saturday he looked well on the way back to his best but a glitch in the time keeping process meant that he could not check his time. He continued to throw well and scored a good 2nd place in the B hammer.

The team has shown great fighting spirit this year right through from the 15 year olds to the veterans. In spite of this excellent team performance the team dropped to 8th place which equals their best ever finish made 20 years ago.

The Harriers only OIympic torch bearer, Jon Metcalf, is the new Eastern Counties 400m and 800m champion in the 50+ age group. He won both the events at the wet and windy venue of Sandy in Bedfordshire on Sunday. He now hopes to be selected for next month’s Inter Regional Championships representing the Eastern Counties.

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