16 September 2017 - European Champion Clubs Cup
- Brno, CZE
Photos start here...
Our Junior Girls took 3rd place at the European
Junior Clubs Cups Final in Brno CZE.
The Blackheath & Bromley Junior Women returned to Brno
in the Czech Republic last weekend intent on improving upon their 3rd place
result the last time the European Champion Clubs Cup was held there in 2013.
The day dawned grey and wet and hardly conducive to athletic performance but
not too different from too many evenings at Norman Park, so, although not
entirely in our element, we weren't exactly in unchartered territory.
The first two events were those possibly most affected
by wet weather: nevertheless, in the hammer, Victoria Wiltshire threw
further than in Spain last year only to finish one place further down the
field in a solid 3rd place, a position replicated by Sophie Dowson in the
pole vault by keeping her head and beating more fancied vaulters who
couldn't cope with the conditions. Triple Jump came next and Annie Davies,
who has struggled with a nagging foot injury all season, produced a SB in
round one , just shy of 12m, to take the lead, which she held until the end
of round 3. Annoyingly, two more athletes squeezed past her in the final
round of 4 (European field rules applying) and she ended up just outside the
medals. As light rain continued to fall, attention moved to the High Jump.
Rebecca Hawkins, wrapped in a blanket when not actually jumping, literally
took it all in her stride and gained a fine 2nd place behind a very
accomplished Danish jumper. Meanwhile, Hannah Macaulay, a first year U17 and
youngest in the field, commenced battle in the discus. She threw well, but,
in a tightly packed field ended on the wrong end of the results in 7th.
That finally brought us to the track programme with
the 400H. Steph Fisher had missed a chunk of training during the late summer
while she participated in a world challenge event in Asia, followed by
illness. Recent training suggested she had recovered sufficiently to take
this on and she was in the mix for 300m only to run out of legs resulting in
an altercation with the last hurdle and another 7th place. Moving to the
800m, Katy-Ann McDonald controlled the race from the front for 700m only to
miss out on 1st place in the run-in, but still securing our best result so
far in 2nd. More good points then followed from Modupe Shokunbi in the 100m.
Isolated in lane 8, she ran a measured race to secure 3rd.
So, no wins yet, but a series of fine performances saw
us leading the other teams after 9 events. That lead improved further with
Euro Junior 200m Champion, Maya Bruney, securing our first win, in the 400m.
But then we stumbled. Our premier long jumper, Holly Mills, hoping to defend
her title from 2016, had picked up a suspected calf tear in the YDL Finals
and had been, in her own words, 'gutted' not to be able to make the trip.
With Funminiyi Olajide just too young to be eligible, Jamiyla
Robinson-Pascal stepped in at late notice. But, having thought her season
had finished 2 weeks earlier, she wasn't quite able to produce the kind of
jump she'd been reeling out earlier in the summer and ended up in 8th, less
than 20cm behind 3rd. At the same time, Hannah Macaulay was producing a PB
with the 4kg shot, but it was only good enough for another 7th place. Her
time will come.
Back on the track, Yasmin Austridge was negotiating
the extra distance of the 3000m s/c and ground out a gutsy 6th place.
(Having never understood why European Athletics always insisted on Junior
Women, who could be as young as 16, taking on an event that can reduce grown
men to tears, it is hoped that the survey of teams carried out during the
competition, suggesting a move to 2000m from next year, will meet with
overwhelming support.) Such is the level of competition that we had now
slipped to 4th equal in the standings. The team manager had also downgraded
his prediction of the winning score to 112 points, a score we could still
meet, but, with seven events to go, we would need to medal in every one of
them and we couldn't afford too many of them to be bronze!
And so our fight back began. In the 200m, Immanuela
Aliu was just run out of 2nd place, but we had the first of those medals.
Katy-Ann McDonald was next back on the track. Again she controlled the race
from the front, ensuring the early pace was manageable after her earlier
800m, and again she led into the final straight. In the closest race of the
day there was nothing between her and her Danish opponent over the last 80m,
with the latter just squeezing in at the finish. Another fine silver for
Katy-Ann. We were still in with a chance.
The last field event of the afternoon saw almost half
the field take a liking to Bekah Walton's javelin. She remained completely
unfazed by this and ensured it was available for each of her 4 throws,
allowing her to put together one of her best ever series. There was clearly
a really big throw in there trying to get out and maybe two more attempts
might have released it, but Bekah had to settle for 3rd. We weren't giving
up and the travelling supporters had more to cheer with Issie Hilditch
dominating the sprint hurdles to produce a comfortable defence of her title.
It was now between us, the Turkish defending champions
and the local hosts from Brno and they weren't about to make things easy for
us. We were picking up the medals we needed but every time we seemed to be
joined by those two teams on the podium. Jess Keene, winner in both Istanbul
and Castellon, was our rep in the final individual event of the day, the
3000m. In the previous races, Jess had led from the front and ground down
the field before romping to victory. She applied the same tactics this year
almost to the same effect, but she couldn't shake off the Turkish runner who
made an early run for home with 800m to go, opening a gap that Jess was
unable to close. The Czechs could 'only' manage 4th.
Thus, with only the relays to go, we were still in the
hunt, but the odds were beginning to look against us. We don't usually think
about losing the 4x100m, but we all know it's all about GTBR and our quartet
of Parris Johnson, Maya Bruney, Immanuela Aliu and Modupe Shokunbi didn't
disappoint, bringing us home comfortably, followed in by... Fenerbahce and
AK Olymp Brno. The game was, barring something extraordinary, pretty much up
and with Maya Bruney deciding she was unable to take her place in the long
relay, even a miracle might not be enough. But we're not a team that gives
in. Despite having undertaken one of the most gruelling doubles on offer and
having had little recovery time, Katy-Ann volunteered to step in. After fine
legs from Belinda Clark, Issie Hilditch and Megan Walsh, she ran a
consummate anchor to bring us home in 2nd place... behind a very strong
We'd won all the seven medals but had come up just
short again: Fenerbahce had won with 110 points, AK Olymp Brno had 107 and
we had 104, with a significant gap to the Danes, Sparta AM in 4th. Team
Manager, Tim Soutar summed up the day: ' This was another magnificent
performance from the girls and I'm immensely proud of them. We just missed
out last year and, after what was an even better performance this year,
we've done so again. But, they deserve to be European Champions and we'll go
away and see if we can't make it actually happen next year, when we'll have
the boys there too to cheer us on.
Photos from Jay Galley