Windsor wins aplenty, hammer heroics & worsening weather at Eton Premiership opener

Written by Daniel Rees

Premiership Division Fixture 1B – Eton

Full results on OpenTrack

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For a match which saw gloriously calm conditions at one stage during the afternoon, the day ended under a literal rain cloud.

The National Athletics League Premiership was abandoned with the relays and a host of field events yet to be completed as thunder, lightning, and torrential rain brought the opening match at Eton to a halt. The men’s 3,000m was the final event to take place on the track, whilst the women’s pole vault, men’s javelin, and men’s high jump were abandoned with the scorecards only half finished.

Many athletes, however, made hay whilst the sun shone. Charlotte Payne, one of Britain’s brightest international prospects in the hammer, started proceedings by throwing a new personal best – and World Championships B standard – in the hammer. 72.51m saw the Reading athlete close on second in the UK rankings, the spot of Notts’s Anna Purchase.

The track action started, as always, with the 400m hurdles as Woodford regular Jack Lawrie ran 50.80sec – a performance all the more impressive given his run of 50.45sec in Geneva on Saturday. In the women’s race, home team Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow took full points as Orla Brennan and Laura Frey came to the fore in both the A-race and B-race.

Heptathlete Holly Mills takes off in the long jump. Photo: Mike Lepps

Further WSEH success came in a predicted battle of the heptathletes as Jodie Smith beat Harrow’s Holly Mills with a best of 6.19, compared to Mills’ 5.98.

Harrow found revenge in the triple jump through a 12.68 personal best win for BUCS gold medallist Adelaide Omitowoju and also saw teenage sprinting talent Joy Eze come home first in the 200m in 23.61.

In the men’s equivalent, European 4x400m champion Alex Haydock Wilson’s 20.92 sealed full points for WSEH ahead of Glasgow Jaguars’ Finlay Waugh (21.39).

Jack Lawrie followed up his recent Loughborough International win for Scotland. Photo: Daniel Rees

Newham & Essex Beagles’ Revee Walcott-Nolan continued Windsor’s strong showing on the track with an outstanding 800m, winning by more than eight seconds with a final time of 2:01.17sec – a fraction outside her lifetime best of 2:01.06sec set two years ago.

Having returned to the top-flight of domestic athletics, Crawley’s athletes put on strong showings over the course of the day prior to the thunderstorm later in the afternoon. Tokyo Olympian Niclas Baker ran 46.69sec to hold off a spirited challenge from Newham’s Tom Somers, who finished just behind in 46.94sec. In the same race, Woodford’s Jacob Campbell set a huge personal best – lowering his PB from 48.36sec to 47.49 – to take third, whilst BUCS silver medallist Alex Cooper took fourth in 47.50sec for Harrow.

In the women’s 100m, French sprinter Hilary Gode took full points for Harrow with a time of 11.73sec, whilst Woodford’s Rebecca Matheson – another athlete to run back-to-back races in Geneva and the UK – took second with a time of 12.06. As for the men, Shaftesbury went from taking maximum points as John Otugade ran 10.42sec, to taking no points at all in the following race after a false start from Phoenix Lyon. Taking advantage was Windsor’s Isaac Osei-Tutu, who ran 10.57sec to edge out junior sprint hurdles prospect Noah Hanson.

As for the high hurdles, athletes produced both strong performances and gripping battles, in both categories. Seeded in adjacent lanes, Shaftesbury’s Edson Gomes (below, left) and Woodford’s Cameron Fillery (below, right) battled it out barrier for barrier as Fillery went on to prevail in 13.70sec. Gomes, a Portuguese international, came home in 13.85sec.

A battle of the stripes between Shaftesbury’s Gomes and Woodford’s Fillery. Photo: Daniel Rees.

In the women’s sprint hurdles, Shaftesbury’s Marli Jessop produced her second 13.46 clocking in as many days, having run the same time – down to the millisecond – in Switzerland on Saturday. Emma Nwofor took second for Newham in a time of 13.64sec, whilst 9:46.29 was the provisional time as Frederica Richards gave Notts AC reason to cheer with first place in the 3000m.

Though excess water became something of a problem later in the day, early on, it was the lack of it which was the problem – as any of the male steeplechasers will attest. With grounds staff unable to fill the water pit, the race was run without a water jump, much to the disappointment of both photographers and those hoping to indulge in a bit of schadenfreude. Adam Kirk-Smith took full points for Woodford in a time of 9:06.73sec, about 2.5 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Terry Fawden.

Adam Kirk-Smith raced away down the home straight. Photo: Mike Lepps

The women’s steeple, as with the relays and a host of field events, could not even start thanks to a thunderous downpour. The men’s 3,000m, which saw a Harrow one-two from Andrew Milligan and Jonathan Collier, was the final race to be completed before the heavens opened.

Officials, who had previously baked in temperatures of 27c, took shelter whilst throwers looked to protect their implements. The men’s high jump and the women’s pole vault were also brought to premature conclusions, and a decision was soon taken to abandon the match altogether.

As sod’s law would have it, the rain eased minutes after the announcement was made over the PA system, though by that stage the back straight was waterlogged along with the high jump and pole vault mats. Lightning too may have been a safety hazard taken into consideration by the meeting manager as athletes, officials, and coaches headed home for an early Sunday night.