City of Portsmouth got their Southern League division one campaign off to the perfect start with victory in their opening fixture.
The Mountbatten Centre outfit made their rivals stand up and take notice with a superb show of strength on home soil that will boost an already confident squad going into a busy summer.
Fresh from sealing promotion from division two west last term, City stormed to victory with a points total of 200 – eight more than nearest rivals Walton (192) – to place them second in the league table behind neighbours Southampton (226), who topped their match in Stevenage.
A host of personal bests were recorded on the day, including Emma Montiel’s time of 10min 34.4sec when claiming third place in the women’s 3,000m A string, Lauren McCarthy’s time of 10.53.0 when second in the 3,000m B, and Claire Netley’s showing in both the 400m hurdles B (67.2) and 400m B (60.5) which earned her impressive victories.
Meanwhile, City had the honour of having both the men’s and women’s athletes of the match, with Adam Akehurst and Mandy Gault picking up the top individual awards.
The current British No1 in the pentathlon, Akehurst demonstrated his importance to the team with wins in the 110m hurdles A (16.0), high jump B (1.80m) and shot putt A (13.18) to prove he’ll be one to watch in the multi-events this season. Gault, meanwhile, enhanced her growing reputation in the 400m hurdles by clocking the fourth fastest time in Britain this season.
Her new personal best of 60.5 shot her up the rankings and provided the perfect boost to her dream of representing home country Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
And not satisfied with that, the 29-year-old then ran another PB in the 400m A (55.6) to put her at the summit of her country’s rankings.
Gault’s winning double in the A string was replicated by team-mate Karrie Blake.
Thirty-seven-year-old Blake showed she means business this season with storming victories in the 800m and 1,500m.
Her times of 2.10.05 and 4.43.2 proved far too strong for the opposition and gave an early indication of what she’s capable of later in the season.
Elsewhere, there were vital A-string victories for Chris Tandi in the 400m (50.9) and javelin thrower Michael Mucklet (51.35), while Steve Davey’s winning distances of 12.08 and 44.07 in the B string’s shot putt and javelin respectively – plus Paul Davoile’s (17.32.2) and Margelis Eimantas’ (6.16) wins in the 5,000m B and long jump B – put vital points on the board for the home side.
Second places from the in-form Alex Teuten, including a PB of 1.59.8 in the A-string 800m and a run of 4.09.5 in the 1,500m, also served well.
As did the runners-up spots of sprinters Sam Vaile, Hollie Fudge, Jamie Gabbidon, young 800m B string runner Eleanor Mills, thrower Ros Stansbury, pole vaulter Ben Farres, Amber Perry, and debutant Victoria Weston in the jumps.
City’s next match in the Southern League is on May 18 in Ware, Hertfordshire.