Lorraine Ugen (coach: Shawn Jackson) had to produce the fourth longest jump in the world this year to ensure she left Sheffield with British Indoor Team Trials victory, after Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jazmin Sawyers (Kelly Sotherton) pushed her all the way in a thrilling long jump competition.
It was Johnson-Thompson who led with one round to go, but Ugen wasn’t about to settle for silver, leaping out to 6.72m to wrap up gold, 3cm ahead of KJT.
Of her performance Ugen said: “It was quite a consistent series today which was good, and considering it was my season opener I felt quite happy with the distances; I think it was my furthest season opener so far, so I’m quite happy with it. After next weekend in Birmingham it’ll be all about looking towards Belgrade at the beginning of March.”
Multi-events specialist Johnson-Thompson was also pleased with her effort: “It is my first competition of the year so I am really happy with it. Lorraine is such a strong jumper so I always knew it would be a tough competition against her and Jazmin. You never know what is going to happen in that last round so I’m glad I got that big jump in early on. My plan is to do the long jump at the European Indoors; it was all about getting in the top two today so I am happy to have achieved that.”
The men’s high jump was also an extremely tight competition but it was Scotland’s Allan Smith (Bryan Roy) who prevailed as three men finished with 2.25m clearances. It was a first time clearance at that height that eventually won it for Smith, although both Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Caan), in his first competition of the year, and Chris Kandu (Caan) both went clear at that height, to win silver and bronze respectively.
Smith, who also won this title in 2015, was naturally pleased with his effort: “I’m happy with winning the British Championships – it’s always nice, and it’s the first time I’ve beaten Robbie too. He’s one of the big boys, so there’s a positive to take from that, but I just need to get that 2.28m mark in for the European Indoor Championships. I’ll get some video feedback from today over the next day or two, so I’ll have a look at that and see what happened at 2.28m because it was very close at the third attempt.”
A truly brilliant display of walking saw Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake) write his name into the record books as his 18.39.47 winning time saw him break his own British record. After collecting his super-size cheque for $2500, the 5,000m walk winner said:
“I’m delighted to break that British record – I have to thank the crowd because they really did spur me on to achieve that time. I can only imagine what it will be like on the Mall in London (for the IAAF World Championships) this summer; I cannot wait. I am in a really good position – that was a world lead today by some way but I knew I was capable of it.”
The women’s equivalent saw runner turned walker Gemma Bridge (Mark Wall) take her first British title in 13.23.59, a personal best.
The very last race of the day turned out to be one of the best as Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold) had to use all her grit and determination to hold off Enfield and Haringey twins Laviai Nielson and Lina Nielson (both Frank Adams), the silver and bronze medallists. First at the break, Doyle had to use all her 400mH strength to hold on for a 52.63 victory after a slow first 200m, with Laviai clocking 52.86 just inches ahead of Lina, who was rewarded with a 52.89 personal best.
Post-race a very content Eilidh Doyle said: “I knew it was going to be really tough today – I raced Laviai out in Vienna and she really pushed me, and that was where I ran my season’s best, so I knew it’d be more of the same here today. Over the final lap I could feel people behind me but I didn’t really know what was going on, so I just thought ‘keep digging and digging’, so I’m delighted to just get the win and secure the spot for European Indoors.”
Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray) wasn’t fazed by the red bib indicating that he was the fastest man on paper, delivering a masterclass in front running to win the men’s 800m. Taking the lead from the gun he was never headed, stopping the clock at 1.48.19 to book his place on the plane for Belgrade.
“I am absolutely over the moon. It has been a rough 18 months for me so there was a lot at stake. I’ve started the indoor season pretty well and have continued that this weekend. I knew I had to finish in the top two to guarantee my spot in Belgrade but I really wanted to win the British title – it means a lot.”
Stealing second place on the line, youngster Markhim Lonsdale (Keith Lonsdale) smashed his personal best with a 1.49.05 time, the fourth fastest ever indoors by a British junior. There was also a personal best of 1.49.12 for bronze medallist Spencer Thomas (Jon Bigg).
Lee Emmanuel (Joe Franklin) secured his third 3,000m title in succession with consummate ease as he pulled away from the field with 600m to go. The reigning European Indoor Championship silver medallist coasted across the line in 7.55.91 and will head to Belgrade in a month’s time in pursuit of another medal.
Local favourite Luke Cutts (Trevor Fox) wrapped up his fifth British indoor pole vault title with a 5.43m season’s best to beat Max Eaves (Richard Humby) on countback. Former IAAF World Youth champion Harry Coppell (John Mitchell) produced his best performance for two years, clearing a 5.32m indoor personal best to win bronze.
Cutts said post-event: “I came here expecting a win so I’m feeling happy. I’ve always liked competing at the British Championships, it’s on my home ground, which is great and the crowd was amazing as well.”
The women’s 1500m saw Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) return to the track after 3,000m victory last night, but she couldn’t quite muster the speed necessary to hold off Sarah McDonald (Bud Baldaro), who kicked away to win her first British title. After a pedestrian opening few laps McColgan pushed on, but couldn’t shake off McDonald, who burst clear with 200m to go to seal the title.
Elliot Giles (Matt Yates) showed his 800m speed to take the men’s 1500m title, flying past runner-up Tom Lancashire (Steve Cram) with 150m to go to cross the line in 3.45.59, a new personal best.
Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) won his first British indoor 400m title in 46.97, using lane six to his advantage to ensure he got to the break first. From there he didn't look back, edging clear of youngster Cameron Chalmers (James Hillier) and Lee Thompson (John Henson) who were silver and bronze medallists respectively after the third man across the line, Jamie Bowie (Piotr Haczek), was disqualified.
There was a jubilant winner in the women’s 60mH as GB junior international Mollie Courtney (David Warner) produced a personal best when it mattered most to take her first senior title in 8.32. In contrast the 200m races went pretty much to script, with junior Connor Wood (Brian Scobie) taking the men’s race in 21.19 and Finette Agyapong (Coral Nourrice) taking the ladies title in 23.78, both personal bests.
Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson) took gold in the first final on day two, winning the men’s shot put with a best effort of 18.76m, whilst there was a personal best of 18.22m for silver medallist Youcef Zatat. In the women’s triple jump new British champion Alexandra Russell (John Crotty) also produced a personal best of 13.27 to take gold.
Most of this weekend’s British champions will be back in action at the Müller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday 18th February. Get your tickets for an afternoon of world class athletics by clicking here.
Full results can be found here: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/results/20170211_sheffield/timetable/index/index.html