Bronwin Carter has challenged her City of Portsmouth troops to build on the encouraging start to their UK Women’s Athletics League campaign.
A patched-up City ladies side defied the odds to claim an impressive second place from their opening division two fixture of the national event.
They finished just nine points behind Sunday’s winners Herne Hill Harriers (184) and saw off some stiff competition from the likes of Crawley AC, Harrow AC and Herts Phoenix to claim a deserved runners-up spot.
It was the ideal start for Carter’s charges at the Mountbatten Centre, given how tough the fixture was on paper.
That task was made even tougher after the late withdrawals of Karrie Blake and Chloe Campbell, plus the unavailability of Jess Chen – three key players in City’s impressive middle-distance ranks.
But the side pulled together and built on the tremendous team spirit that exists within the camp.
That left Carter thinking ‘what if’ as she already contemplates the next fixture at Stevenage on July 1.
‘I’m very happy,’ admitted Carter.
‘We may have come second on Sunday, but it’s onwards and upwards from here.
‘We had a few scares and a few hiccups in terms of selection on the day, but the girls came up trumps.
‘They filled every gap and didn’t let me down.
‘But now we need to consolidate this performance.
‘Not only did we hold our own against some good teams – we did much better than hold our own.
‘So hopefully, if we can keep the same team spirit and gel together in the next fixtures like we did on Sunday, we can possibly do very, very well in this division.’
Portsmouth boasted two A-string winners on home soil, with Katy Watts and Cassie Thorp gaining maximum points in the javelin and 3,000m respectively.
These were supplemented by encouraging second-place finishes from Mandy Gault and Emma Gilmore in the 400m hurdles and 800m, the 4x400m relay team’s runners-up finish and Jessica Shuttleworth’s third in the 100m hurdles.
B division wins from Helen Barrett (high jump) and Ros Stansbury (shot) added to the points tally – as did Louise Douglas’ double runners-up spot in both the 400m and 100m hurdles and captain Sam Vaile’s third in the long jump.
However, contributions from the likes of Irish Sirmons (throws), Tracey Burrows (800m), Sophie Millet (pole vault), Amber Perry (javelin), Hollie Fudge (100m), Sian Hawks (300m), Alex Davoile (steeplechase) and Suzi Wise also proved valuable.
A fact that wasn’t lost on Carter, who was quick to praise all her team for their effort.
‘I’m so proud of everybody and they can be proud too of their performances on the day,’ she said.
‘The team spirit is there for all to see, so a big massive thank you to all the team for playing their part in a terrific result.
‘It would have been difficult for me if people had told us categorically that they couldn’t fill in the gaps that appeared in the team – but they didn’t do that.
‘In that respect, my job wasn’t that difficult, with everyone volunteering.
‘I hope those who missed out on Sunday are encouraged by these results and want to be part of this team.’