1st July 2013
GB & NI Combined Events Team Retain Super League Status
01 July 2013
For the first time the European Cup of Combined Events was a joint men’s and women’s score bringing it in line with the structure of the European Team Championships. From performances in 2011 the G.B. & N.I. Team had secured a place in the Super League for 2013 in Tallinn, Estonia, making it the first time in sixteen years that the British Men had competed at the top level.
The Team had arrived ranked seventh of the eight teams competing, so avoiding relegation was the top priority and fought hard for every point over the two days of competition.
The competition started well for the team with both John Lane (City of Sheffield) and Karla Drew (Team Southampton) recording PBs in their first events of 10.78 (100m.) and 13.39 (100m. Hurdles) placing her equal third in the UK Rankings for 2013. Lane followed this up with another PB in event two when he jumped 7.16 in the Long Jump. Drew followed up her exciting start by equalling her outdoor best in the High Jump with 1.75. The third event for both Men and Women was the Shot and all of the British Team had solid performances except Grace Clements (Dartford Harriers) who excelled with one of the leading throws to go over 14 metres for the first time, improving from 13.58 to 14.12. The Women completed their day with the 200m. and all four athletes completed their day with near PB performances. In the meantime the Men were involved in their High Jump and Martin Brockman was the top British performer with 2.01 but Francis Baker (Cardiff A.C.) equalled his outdoor best to keep the British momentum going. The final event of the day saw another PB from Lane as he stormed to victory in his heat in a new best of 48.07 (the second fastest time of the day).
This left the team in sixth position (with a lead of 590 points over Poland) at the end of the day, so hopes were high that this could be maintained through the second day.
The second day started well for the team with all three remaining Men opening with good hurdles and Lane producing his fastest ever hurdles of 14.44 (wind +2.7). The Men had moved on to Discus by the time the Women started their day and here Martin Brockman (Medway & Maidstone A.C.) produced a massive PB with 44.16 (previously 42.72) to help the British cause. Over at the Long Jump all the Women’s Team were maintaining solid performances with both Clements and Jo Rowland (Crawley A.C.) both within 10 cm. of the lifetime bests and Jessica Tappin (Chelmsford A.C.) only 4cm. from her best ever. Drew added to her score with a best ever distance of 5.82 (wind +3.5). The Men were now on their eighth event and all three produced solid performances but the excitement was happening at the other end of the track where both Clements (45.07) and Rowland (42.81) produced lifetime bests in the Javelin. By this stage the team had crept up to fifth place but the Javelin was looming with the Polish Team all being strong throwers leaving the scope for some edgy moments in the final races. In the end by the time the Women had all run strong 800m. races the Men found themselves going into the last event in sixth place with a comfortable cushion of around 700 points over Ukraine but only 170 points behind Poland for fifth place. The Polish team ran a sound tactical race and despite herois efforts from Brockman to win his heat in 4:27.65 and Baker to beat thir Polish counterparts the gap narrowed but not by quite enough to snatch fifth place.
In the overall individual standings Drew produced a best ever score of 5535 with Clements only two points away from her best, set at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. All three Men finished with solid scores to help the British cause for the weekend.
In the end Super League status was retained when the rankings suggested that relegation was a distinct possibility for the team.