Athletes suffer narrow defeat in opener

Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets endured an agonising disappointment in the opening match of the Southern League season

The opening match of the Southern League athletics season proved an agonising disappointment for Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets Athletics Club's men's team, who were beaten into second place by the slimmest of margins at Ilford.

The East London club were pipped by just half a point by a strong Nene Valley AC, who finished on 120 points to secure overall victory in the Division One season-opener.

Despite narrowly missing out on top spot, Victoria Park's display bodes well for the remainder of the campaign - the team's first season in Division One since winning promotion last year.

The team finished two points ahead of third-placed Portsmouth and comfortably outperformed host club Ilford and more than doubled the points tally of fifth-placed outfit Swindon.

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Among the notable performances was the 100m B string victory for Tunde Judun, who capped his senior debut for the club by winning the event in 11.1secs - a time that would have been good enough to win the A-string race.

Judun, the reigning London Schools 100m champion, later teamed up with Victor Ade-Davis, Shane Martin and Dami Oladiran to win the 4x100m relay, running as a guest team and setting a new club age-group record of 42.8secs.

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There was a lifetime best for Baddar Echakhch, who added 80cm to his previous top standard in the pole vault, clearing 3.60m to secure fifth spot in the all-time club rankings and earn him the runners-up position.

Echakhch also managed a new best of 30.84m in the hammer and threw 52.24m in the javelin.

Abdul Buhari claimed second place in both the 100m and 200m A-string races, while James Foley led from gun to tape in the A-string 800m to record a winning time of 2mins 01.4secs that ranks close to his personal best.

In the field events, Sam Sillah excelled in taking second places in the A-string triple jump and long jump, and a fourth place in the tough B-string javelin before securing top spot in the high jump by a considerable distance.

Marc Malone, who had travelled down from Edinburgh to compete, won the B-string high jump and came second in the B-string long jump.

Victoria Park continue their Southern League campaign with the second match of the season in Newham this weekend.

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