Husband and wife hit the heights for Harriers

Caroline Parkinson

Caroline Parkinson

First published in Sport by

WYCOMBE Phoenix Harriers owe their Southern League Division Two status in large part to their husband and wife pole-vaulting team, Ian and Caroline Parkinson.

Ian had already done his part of the Mr and Mrs act with personal best performances earlier in the season, and at the final meet wife Caroline emulated him to help secure Wycombe’s survival by the slenderest of margins.

She improved her personal best no fewer than three times on her way to pole vault victory in Peterborough with a jump of 3.51m.

Ian duly won the men’s event with a clearance of 4.10m, while Tom Claessans returned to the team with a consummate gun to tape win in the steeplechase.

Meanwhile, the club’s young sprint team were on form with Josh Parry, Jordan Layne, Sophie Matthews and Rochelle Jack performing a clean sweep across A and B strings of both men’s and women’s sprint relays.

Caitlin Neale was also on top of her game with second place in the discus in a new lifetime best of 24.08m, while another personal best came in the shot and she also set a new season’s best in the hammer.

Further wins on the day came from Natasha Taylor in the B 800m and Mateusz Sliwinski in the B 5,000m and B steeplechase, while Lisa Fitzpatrick and Ben Sutherland set new personal bests in the 100m hurdles and 5,000m respectively, with times of 19.5 seconds and 16:28.

However, with the team shorn of stars competing at the inter county championships, the club owed a debt of gratitude to the flexability of their athletes, with many filling for absent team-mates in unfamiliar events.

Andy Kobani competed in nine events, winning 15 valuable points, sprinters Anna Lipman and Sophie Matthews competed in the shot, middle distance runners Ben Sutherland, Luke Seymour and James Roberts took part in the shot, javelin, discus and hammer, while veterans Mike Taylor and David Randall also turned back the clock with new personal bests.

Once the dust settled Harriers had come third on the day and 11th out of 16 teams in the league.

Randall said: “The league was incredibly tight. Two more points and we'd have been seventh, two less and we’d have been relegated.

“I can't tell you how proud I am of this team – many of them young – who scrapped for every point, took on more senior athletes and bigger clubs without fear.”

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