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Spar European Cup Day One

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The Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Men and Women both finished their first day at the SPAR European Cup 2006 in precarious positions – the men on 51 in fifth place and the women on 49 in seventh position. Tantalisingly however is the fact that only four more points for either team would have seen them sit four places higher in the table.

 

Men

 

Andy Frost (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) opened the GB account with a best of 69.95m to take eighth position and two points in the Hammer. His third round effort made up for a slow start under the hot Malaga sun.

 

In the High Jump it was the slightly apprehensive figure of Germaine Mason (Birchfield Harriers) who took part in his first competition wearing the Great Britain strip. Mason suffered an early failure at 2.10m which meant he was at a disadvantage through the competition but performed impressively to leap 2.27m and came close to 2.29m finishing third. The gentle giant revealed the British Support in the crowd stunned him.

 

“I did not expect there to be so many,” he laughed. “Technically it was a bit shaky today but the wind didn’t help but I was really pleased to compete for Great Britain in front of so many people.”

 

Rhys Williams (Cardiff AAC) continued his development in the 400m hurdles, clocking 50.61 seconds for fourth position. The Welshman was disappointed with his performance for the GB team: “No excuses, it was boiling but that just wasn’t good enough – I was hoping for more points than that.”

 

Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers) shook off the weight of the media spotlight and expectation piled on his shoulders to take second in the men’s 100m to Frenchman Ronald Pognon, with 10.19 to 10.13. Chambers was pleased to be running but not so satisfied with the points.

 

“It is good to be here, but I’m disappointed with how I ran,” he said. “I wanted to get maximum points so it was disappointing by my expectations.”

 

Carl Myerscough (Blackpool & Fylde) opened his busy two days of competition with fourth position in the shot – 20.23 in the second round securing points for the team. However Andrew Baddeley (Harrow AC) looked disappointed with his race finishing sixth in 3.52.27. Having taken the pace on at the bell that had been close to jogging, he was out sprinted in the final 200m by the athletes who had lined up on his shoulder.

 

Fully recovered from the injury which blighted his Commonwealth Games and fresh from an 8.09m leap last week, Greg Rutherford (Marshall Milton Keynes) had what he described emotionally as a “total disaster” in the long jump. His first round jump of 5.98m was never bettered in a competition where he was forced to run through the pit after each run up, finishing last:

 

“I don’t know what is wrong. I jumped 8.09m with no competition and this is the competition I have been most up for in my life and this happens. It’s terrible - I’ve let everyone down – I can’t believe I’ve let this happen.'

 

Graham Hedman (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) stepped into the individual 400m berth after having made his GB debut in last years European Cup as part of the 4 x 400m relay. Running in lane nine he was disappointed not to achieve a PB – but the windy conditions made it nigh impossible for anyone to perform close to their bests on the track. Fifth in 46.79 seconds was his return for the GB and NI team.

 

As with most endurance races in the European Cup, the men’s 5000m became a fairly tactical affair in which Chris Thompson (Aldershot, Farnham & District) was unlucky not to place higher than the fifth position he was left with in the home straight. Sitting fourth, and in contact with the leaders most of the way, the last lap was strung out and Thompson did not quite have the legs to live with the final 200m, clocking 14.20.26.

 

Closing down the first day’s events was the men’s 4 x 100m where the running order of Tim Abeyie (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), Marlon Devonish (Coventry Godiva), Christian Malcolm (Cardiff AAC) and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Sutton) saw the GB men finish the day with a third position – and invaluable experience for Harry “AA”.

Harry Aikines Aryeetey said of his time training with the GB relay team:

 

“It’s been brilliant – they’ve really taken me in. The B 100m race earlier in the evening didn’t go as I would want, but this was a great experience.”

 

The GB & NI men's 4 x 100m relay time of 39.31 seconds will be a target for Thursday’s B relay team in the none-scoring race.

 

Women

 

Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers), whose consistency in the pole vault this year awarded her the European Cup place, took fifth place with a clearance at 4.10m, with three failed attempts at 4.25m.

 

However, Nadia Williams (Shaftesbury Barnet) added a point to the early points tally in the triple jump, finishing last with 12.55m.

 

Tasha Danvers Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) made sure of maximum points in the 400m Hurdles, with a hard fought victory in 55.65. Danvers-Smith  who had suffered with a mild bout of food poisoning earlier in the week, admitted preparations had been less than helpful but reasoned:

 

“This sort of week could happen in the week before my final at Beijing (2008 Olympics) – what you going to do about it then?

Go home and cry because preparations haven’t been great or get out there and run?”

 

In the Discus, Zoe Derham (Birchfield) claimed a token point for Great Britain & Northern Ireland, following the withdrawal of Philippa Roles earlier in the week. Her 26.02m throw was enough to warm her up for her best event on the Thursday evening.

Joice Maduaka (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) claimed eight points in the 100m and set a new personal best finishing position in the European Cup with second place. It was all the more impressive following a dire start, but her pick-up, which accelerated her into second showed there is still more to come from the 32 year old.

 

After a superb few weeks build up, Becky Lyne (Hallamshire) lined up in the 800m, ready to take on Europe’s best. After a slow opening lap, a clash with the Ukraine runner on the back straight saw the gutsy Lyne tumble, only to pick herself up and finish in eighth in 2.11.04. Lyne admitted that it was just one of those things that happened in races:

 

“I sensed that the Ukrainian girl might want to get out because she got boxed in so before she started to move out, I moved alongside to try get past before she did. But she didn’t see me before she moved and somehow got caught and fell. I thought I had missed her, but then I was suddenly on the floor.”

 

23 year old Lyne only realised at the trackside afterwards that she had a huge track burn on her shoulder and was bleeding through being spiked in her thigh.

 

Nicola Sanders (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) tried to do some serious damage to her current outdoor 400m PB, but the windy conditions meant she had to make do with running 51.92 to take eight points in a solid second position. The inside lane however had it’s advantages, despite the tight drawbacks:

 

“Originally I was gutted when I realised I was in lane one,” she admitted. “But when I knew I had the Russian just outside of me it was good because at least she would be in reach for me to race.”

 

In the 3000m, Jo Pavey (Exeter Harriers) demonstrated her new found speed that she has been working on in training, to stride away from the Russian Olesya Syreva off the final bend. With 200m remaining, the Russian made her move, but it wasn't convincing enough to shake off a determined Pavey, who responded coming into the home straight and sealed a fine victory, taking maximum points for the British women.

 

“I was starting to feel scared when she was still there at the bell,” she revealed.

 

“I was looking at the screen and she looked really relaxed but at the same time I could hear her breathing and it was really heavy so I hoped she was struggling.

 

“It’s not a great time – but although I wanted to push it from the front, it was to windy to take risks and end up with less points so I couldn’t push on as much as I would normally”

 

In the javelin, Goldie Sayers (Belgrave Harriers) finished seventh with 56.75m in the second round, and in the 3000m steeplechase, late replacement Tina Brown stepped in for new British Record holder Lizzy Hall who has suffered a foot injury.  Tina clattered the barrier early on in the race and ran five laps in agony but finished seventh to pick up three points. Her 10.28.26 was a tough test and saw the Coventry Godiva athlete stretcher-ed from the track after her efforts.

 

Sadly the GB women’s 4 x 100m team of Abi Oyepitan (Shaftesbury Barnet), Joice Maduaka (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), Laura Turner (Harrow AC) and Jeanette Kwakye (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) closed day one with a disappointing DNF, with an unsuccessful changeover between Maduaka and Turner forcing the Brits out of the running.

 

Results here