Molly Caudery holds the world lead with 4.86m. Photo: Getty for UKA

Two records broken in NAL Premiership curtain raiser

Written by Alex Seftel

NAL Premiership Round 1 – Eton – Saturday 1st June

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Two all-time records were broken on a day that Harrow won the first National Athletics League (NAL) Premiership match of the season at Eton.

World indoor pole vault champion Molly Caudery cleared 4.50m off a shortened approach to take maximum points for Thames Valley Harriers, eclipsing the previous league record of 4.30m, which had been jointly held by Sally Peake and Jade Ive.

But perhaps the result of the day came in the first race as Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow’s Tyri Donovan stormed around the outside of the track to beat training partner Chris McAlister (TVH) in a sensational time of 49.23 seconds.

Not only did that improve on Donovan’s recent personal best of 49.43s in Kingston, it also usurped the efforts of Olympian Chris Rawlinson, who clocked 49.40s for Belgrave Harriers in the old British Athletics League in 1999.

Harrow placed second overall last year so appeared to be an obvious contender to push TVH, who are searching for a fourth consecutive NAL title this year.

UK pole vault champion Owen Heard, British Universities’ (BUCS) 400m gold medallist Poppy Malik, and South of England 100m hurdles champion Marli Jessop were among the winners who helped them build a healthy points advantage.

Heard cleared 5.30m, before Malik stormed to the finish line in 52.96s, just 0.02s off the personal best that saw her triumph at BUCS.

In turn, Jessop was exactly 0.1s outside her recent fastest ever time of 13.30s, achieved last month in Chelmsford.

But the international quality of the TVH side managed by Phil Wetton and Manuel da Silva certainly kept Harrow on their toes.

Amelia Campbell made it ten victories from ten NAL starts, beating high quality shot putters Sophie McKinna (WSEH, 17.17m) and Adele Nicoll (Birchfield Harriers, 16.62m).

Commonwealth silver medallist Jade Lally threw 60.51m for her 14th discus victory in a run going back to the old UK Women’s Athletics League, beating long-term rival Kirsty Law of Sale Harriers (53.30m).

McAlister would then win the 400m flat to record his seventh NAL race victory in another event in which a Sale athlete was second.

It was one of the more eye-catching races of the day as the Thames Valley man’s 46.75s winning time was followed by a clocking of 46.82 for Tom Hunter, who had a previous best of 47.54.

What’s more, Harrow’s Michael Fagbenle was 3rd in 46.95, when his fastest going into the day had been 47.39.

WSEH’s squad was packed full of talent in the field and it was no surprise that UK hammer champions Jake Norris and Charlotte Payne both delivered top spot.

Norris (WSEH) continued his perfect record in the NAL – a best throw of 74.15m making it four wins from four Premiership hammer competitions – while Charlotte Payne’s 67.98m won the women’s equivalent.

Their teammate Jodie Smith 6.22m season’s best kept her ahead of the rest in the long jump.

One of Harrow’s greatest strengths was in the sprint events as they took at least third place in both the men’s and women’s A and B string 100m and 200m, even if most of the times weren’t really anything to shout about.

Indeed, Jahde Williams was 0.04s behind Blackheath and Bromley’s (BBH) Kieran Gowan-Wade, who stopped the clock at 10.80 in the men’s 100m, running into a -4.5m/s headwind.

That particular gust had somewhat moved on when Harrow’s Harry Taylor won the B string in a faster time of 10.75 (-2.8), and it had disappeared as his teammate Shiloh Wright-Taipow collected 12 points with 11.89s.

By the time that two thirds of events had been scored, their side had broken the 400-point mark to lead by 44 points.

But it was perhaps when Tony Bush’s team won the A String men’s 4x100m and Thames Valley finished eighth, that the result looked like it was going their way.

The final score was confirmed as a 40-point win, with Harrow on 645, compared to TVH’s 605.

Glasgow Jaguars’ consolidated fourth overall and their most impressive results included a brilliant women’s 4x100m win to beat fighting rivals TVH and Harrow, while there was a discus victory for Andrew Peck, who threw 50.72m.

Woodford Green’s Gwen Datey achieved a lifetime best of 24.12s to beat a strong women’s 200m field, and there was joy, too, for 2023 UK indoor champion Mary Elcock, who clinched the triple jump with a furthest effort of 12.58m.

William Ritchie-Moulin improved his PB from 14.04 to 13.95 to take 110mh hurdles victory for Birchfield.

Also in the famous black vest, Aron Gebremariam beat his opposition in the men’s 1500m, where 3:49.90 was the winning time, while an 11:02.10 performance saw Victoria Weir come home first in the women’s steeplechase.

Elsewhere, BBH’s Jack Kavanagh ran 17 seconds faster than he had ever done before to cross the line first in the 5000m in 14:15.30.