ATHLETICS: Great start to league campaign with best performance in two years

R&N's 4x400m relay team Natalie Goddard, Eloise Coombs, Selina Scott and Hannah Shepherd
R&N's 4x400m relay team Natalie Goddard, Eloise Coombs, Selina Scott and Hannah Shepherd

Rugby & Northampton’s women second in opening round

Rugby & Northampton Athletics Club made a bright start to the UK Women’s League, finishing second in the first round of this season’s competition – their best performance since returning to the League in 2016.

Nineteen athletes were in attendance at last Sunday’s meet in Bedford, with five of those earning individual success. All the first-placed finishes came in the field events, where there was double joy in both the long jump and javelin.

Eleanor Broome cruised to victory in the long jump, with an effort of 5.84 metres leaving her clear of the chasing pack. In the B event, Simone Ager jumped a 5.46m personal best to take top spot by two centimetres.

In the javelin, a personal best 37.68m saw Shannon Dawes claim an emphatic win, and Megan Exley made it two out of two, winning the B string contest with 36.38m, well clear of her nearest rival.

The fifth individual triumph arrived in the hammer, where Hayley Murray’s throw of 55.98m was enough for top spot.

Competition was tough on the track, but the efforts were to be applauded with several athletes making their debut for the club. Amy Walker ran well to finish fourth (1:01.93) in the 400m A and second (2:25.02) in the 800m B races.

Eloise Coombs and Selina Scott both finished fourth in fast-paced races, with the former running 1500m in 4:54.41, and Scott completing the 800m in 2:21.90. In warm conditions, Emma Bond also shone, taking third in the 3000m with a personal best effort of 10:07.49.

British Masters record holder Ellena Ruddock competed in a sprint double, taking third in the 100m A (12:69) and fifth in the 200m A (26.81). Ruddock then took the lead leg in the 4x100m where she ran brilliantly with Ager, Tia Clues and Broome. The quadruplet sealed a fine second place in 49.68 with some excellent baton changeovers.

R&N’s highest points scorer on the day was Annabelle Pask, who was fourth in the shot (11.06m), third in the high jump (1.60m) and an excellent second in the 100m hurdles with a time of 15.18 seconds. Rhoda Woller made a welcome return to the team and finished second in the B shot (10.14m), while debutant Olivia Witts scored valuable points in the hammer (21.83m) and discus (26.92m).

The day ended with the R&N quartet of Hannah Shepherd, Natalie Goddard, Scott and Coombs finishing a close fourth in the 4x400m relay (4:14.8), a result which secured second spot overall for the club. The next round takes the team to Liverpool on Sunday, July 8.