James Dasaolu and Asha Philip (coach: both Steve Fudge) won their first and third British Championship 100m titles respectively, the star performances on the first day of finals at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
For Dasaolu, who ran his personal best here in 2013, his first British title was long overdue. In an extremely close race, where he first overhauled early leader Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) before holding off a fast finishing James Ellington (Linford Christie), he crossed the line in 9.93 albeit aided by a 3.0m/s tailwind. Naturally he was delighted with the result and post-race he said:
“I am so pleased, this is what I wanted to do at the Olympic Trials – finish in that top two and book my spot on the road to Rio. It is a bonus to go sub-10 (albeit with an illegal wind), I haven’t done that since 2013 funnily enough I did that in the exact same lane here in Birmingham.
“I knew it was going to be tough, as across the whole field there were quick times. It was a packed field so I knew it was going to be a challenge. The start was going to be crucial for me and I nailed it so I knew from there it was going to be easier.
“I didn’t think I was in 9.93 shape but that is where I want to be in a few weeks’ time in Rio. I know after another block of training I can only get quicker and stronger.”
Silver went to Ellington in 9.96, the Newham man really coming of age over 100m this season, and he too is off to Rio.
“It wasn’t a surprise – the only person who needs to believe in me, is myself. Every year I’ve focused more on the 200m – this year the timetable worked out so I could try both. I knew I was in good shape for the 100m and I’ve been running quick all year so why not?”
Youngster Ujah had to settle for bronze despite running 9.97. The defending champion will now have to wait and see whether he has done enough to make his first Olympic Games.
In the women’s event Asha Philip produced a season’s best when it mattered most to secure her third British title and confirm her Olympic spot. Philip got a blistering start and in truth was never really threatened by runner-up Daryll Neita (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) or Desiree Henry (Rana Reider), who had to settle for bronze.
After her 11.17 (-0.3m/s) winning performance Philip commented:
“It feels like a whole weight has been lifted off my shoulders. All I came out to do was qualify for the Olympics and that’s what I’ve gone and done. I believe in myself and my coach so it good to know I can execute it when the time is right. I am so happy to be on that plane to Rio!”
It was sister act in the women’s 100m hurdles final as Tiffany Porter (Reider) led younger sister Cindy Ofili (James Henry) to a one-two finish, both ensuring their places on the plane to Rio. Tiffany got the better start, and whilst Cindy did close slightly in the latter stages, the elder of the Woodford Green & Essex Ladies duo stopped the clock in 12.91 (2.0), two hundredths in front.
Third place went to Lucy Hatton (Toni Minichiello), who crossed the line in 13.21, just outside her best and the European Championships qualifying standard.
Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) kept his magical 2016 going, the Scot romping to 5,000m victory to secure his Olympic berth in 13.44.00. Having run two sub 13.24 qualifying times earlier this season, Butchart has also broken the Scottish 3,000m and 5,000m records, so came to Birmingham full of confidence.
In a relatively slow race, he surged to the front with four laps to go, immediately putting daylight between himself and the rest of the field. He continued to extend his lead over the remainder of the race, even having time to salute the crowd with 100m to go.
“I’m buzzing with that, it went exactly how I wanted it to go, so I cannot ask for a better day. To win the British title and confirm my place in Rio is a great feeling. I have been so nervous coming into this as I knew what I had to do. I’ve not really raced some of these guys this year so you have no idea what shape they are in, so it is good to get the win.”
In a battle for second, Tom Farrell (Mark Rowland) also ensured he’s off to South America in August as he outkicked Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) by one and a half seconds.
The men’s discus got proceedings under way on day two; NCAA champion Nicholas Percy (Vesteinn Hafsteinsson) prevailed with fifth round 60.43m, his first British title.
“It is unbelievable to be British Champion, I did not expect that coming into the competition. I’ve gone up against Brett Morse who is a former Olympian and Zane Duquemin who has won this title multiple times. It has been a crazy couple of weeks; it was so good to be crowned NCAA champion and then I won the England U23 Championships as well. To win the British Championship as well is pretty special. Hopefully a big throw will come in the next couple of weeks.”
Recently crowned IPC European Champion Dan Greaves (John Godina) produced an impressive 60.34m season’s best with the lighter discus as he ramps up his preparations for the Paralympic Games.
The women’s hammer was the next field final to take place and it was British record holder Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson) who took victory by some six metres with a first round throw of 69.99m. Having already achieved multiple qualifying standards, she’s on her way to Rio.
“It’s always a proud moment to become a British champion. There were a few technical issues which I’m not happy about but it was about getting the win today. I’ll look forward to the European Championships in a couple of weeks then we will be focusing on Rio. There are a lot of small steps to make over the next few weeks to make those improvements ahead of the Olympic Games.”
Blackburn Harrier Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) was another athlete to take both the British title and her Rio place, as she won the pole vault in a season’s best of 4.60m. Going close at 4.72m, the British record holder commented:
“Since the Birmingham Diamond League I’ve competed in a couple of competitions and they’ve gradually got better and better but today was better again so I’m hoping every time I compete I can keep building and finding my jumps so when it comes to Rio I’ll be there. I’ve secured my place on the team now so I don’t have to worry about that, I can focus on my jumping and training. I showed in Beijing last year that I can deliver when it matters so I’m relying on that again. Every competition from now to Rio is a training session, I just need to work on a few things and look forward to it really.”
Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson) launched the shot put out to 19.03m to win the British Championship title in that event, however the performance of the day in that event arguably came from Paralympic champion Aled Davies (Ryan Spencer-Jones), who broke his own world record with a 16.38m effort.
Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake) had a couple of good attempts at 1.95m in the high jump, which would have bettered her own British junior record. In the end she had to settle for a best of 1.90m and the British title, whilst Rob Mullett (David Leach) won the men’s 3000m steeplechase after Zak Seddon fell at the final water jump. Mullett, who possess one Olympic qualifying time, will now look for a fast race to run his second time.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Laura Samuel (Aston Moore) equalled her triple jump personal best with a 14.09m effort in round three to convincingly win the British title, despite not producing a single other valid jump. Meanwhile at the other end of the stadium an ever changing men’s javelin competition was won by Matti Mortimore (Justin St Clear) who threw 74.40m with the final throw of the competition.
In the qualifying rounds, Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold) made light work of booking her place in the women’s 400mH final, whilst in the men’s equivalent Sebastian Rodger (Stephen King) qualified fastest with a 49.99. There was no final spot for Dai Greene (Blomkvist) however, missing out by just one place.
In the 400m flat, the qualifiers for tomorrow’s final were led by Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah), with Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon), Anyika Onuora (Reider) and Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) all safely through. The men’s 800m heats also went to script despite only the winner of each race progressing; Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg) will go for his eighth British title tomorrow at 14:36.
In the men’s and women’s 1500m heats those with Olympic qualifying times all progressed to tomorrow’s finals, led by Laura Muir (Andy Young), Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) and Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg). Alison Leonard (Bud Baldaro), Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter), Lynsey Sharp (Reider) and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Bigg) all won their heats to progress to the women’s 800m final.
Full results from proceedings so far can be found here: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/results/20160624_birmingham/timetable/index/index.html