Callum Wilkinson and Bethan Davies were the stand-out performers at the Molly Barnett and England 10k Senior Race Walking Championships held on a cold day in Coventry reports Ian Richards.
The duo had contrasting performances at the previous weekend’s British Indoor Championships in Sheffield, with Davies smashing the British Indoor Record over 3000 metres in 12.44.99, whilst Wilkinson was disqualified whilst in 2nd place in the last kilometre.
With pre-race favourite Tom Bosworth not toeing the line due to a cold, Wilkinson cut out the early pace alongside training partner Cameron Corbishley. Wilkinson opened up a small gap on Corbsihley shortly after halfway. Corbishley put in a big effort to close the gap and retake the lead, but he was disqualified, leaving the way clear for Wilkinson to set a new British Junior Record of 41.31 to take the England Senior Title. This removed Darrell Stone’s long standing record of 41.47 from the books set 29 years ago in 1987. This was also just faster than 41.34.63 Wilkinson set on the track in when finishing 7th in the European Junior Championships last summer. It also moved him into the top 10 on the Senior All Time list.
Fellow Junior Guy Thomas also overcame the disappointment at Sheffield the previous weekend to take the silver medal in 45.12 to move 2nd on the UK Rankings for 2016. Under 17 Chris Snook took the bronze medal with a personal best of 47.45 ahead of Tom Partington (under 20) 48.42.
Cardiff’s Bethan Davies set a new Welsh Record and became only the second British Woman after Jo Atkinson to break the 45 minute barrier in clocking 44.59 on the twisting and testing course. Davies built on the previous week’s performance in removing well over a minute and a half from her previous best (46.42) set in the same competition in 2014. This sets her up perfectly for her first 20k of the season in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge Meeting in Dudince in Slovakia in 2 weeks, where she will look to take a substantial chunk of her existing pb of 96.07 set at Hillingdon in October last year.
In second place in the race was Italian, Bristol resident Tatyana Gabellone, who made up for the disappointment of being disqualified in Sheffield last weekend in 47.16. Pembroke Harriers Heather Lewis clocked 48.09 in 3rd place to move to 2nd on the UK Rankings for 2016. Taking the English Title in 4th place in the race was Junior Emma Achurch (Leicester WC) who clocked her second fastest ever 10 Kilometres in 48.09. Next in the race was American Susan Randall (50.34) ahead of England silver medallist Michelle Turner 51.01, Ireland’s Brenda Gannon (52.01) and Under 20 Molly Davey who set a new personal best of 52.19 to move to 2nd behind Achurch in the UK Rankings and secure the bronze medal. Ana Garcia was the leading Under 17 competitor in 56.17.
In the supporting Molly Barnett races, Under 20 Sophie Lewis Ward (Cambridge Harriers) took victory in the 5k in 26.07 ahead of Spaniard Esther Montana in 26.21. Evie Butcher (Cambridge Harriers) took victory in the Under 17 Women’s 5k in 28.14 ahead of Swansea Harriers’ Megan Stratton-Thomas (28.25).
Lewes Oliver Hopkins took victory in the Under 17 Men’s 5km in a new personal best of 26.21 ahead of Benjamin Allen (27.10). The Under 15 Boys resulted in a victory for Jack Childs (Maidstone & Medway) in 16:43, whilst Lucy Lewis Ward (Cambridge Harriers) took the Under 15 Girls in 16:40.
The support of England Athletics means we were able to put on an event that allowed qualifying performances for International Team selections including the World Junior Championships and the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships. With over 100 athletes competing, the event will be one of the biggest race walk domestic meets of the year. The next EA race walk medals will be awarded at the Olympic 20k Trials in Leeds on 5th June.
Photo of Callum Wilkinson