Brave City battle hard in league opener

City of Portsmouth thrower Irish Sirmons
City of Portsmouth thrower Irish Sirmons

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Gerry North praised his City of Portsmouth battlers as they clubbed together to claim fourth place in their UK Women’s League opener.

The City squad for the division two match in Abingdon was decimated by injury and unavailability, leaving team manager North with several gaps and a selection headache.

But the spirit he’s helped generate in the new-look side ensured there were plenty of positives to take out of Saturday’s display.

And with the Mountbatten Centre-based outfit securing a creditable fourth spot, North admitted he was ‘chuffed’ by what he saw from his charges on show.

‘I was very happy, considering we had quite a few people drop out,’ said North.

‘We had one or two gaps and had to make some scratch teams up for the relays. But to finish fourth out of eight top clubs makes me very happy.

‘I was thinking we’d finish about fifth or sixth but to finish fourth I’m more than chuffed.’

Distance runners Emma Montiel and Helen Lockyer were among those asked to go that extra mile for the team as City sought a solid start to their league campaign.

Lockyer competed in the 800m (2min 39.02sec), 1,500m (5.40.57), 3,000m (11.55.77) and 4x400m relay, earning valuable points along the way.

Meanwhile, Montiel’s third place in the 3,000m (10.51.57) and gritty display in the 1,500m (5.10.03) failed to go unnoticed among her team-mates.

No more could have been asked of Irish Sirmons, either, as she produced three season’s-best throws in the shot putt (10.61m), discus (32.69) and hammer (35.47).

And to ensure City kept pace with the division’s early pacesetters, there were some top first-place finishes from long-jumpers Gabrielle Rowsell (A string) and Vikki Harfield (B string), who jumped 5.25 and 5.19 respectively.

Ros Stansbury (shot putt B) and Suzanne Wise (discus B) also earned maximum points with throws of 10.20 and 31.73.

Mandy Gault, meanwhile, continued her impressive form with the team’s only win on the track and another new PB of 59.57 in the 400m hurdles.