WRITTEN FOR ATHLETICS WEEKLY MAGAZINE
AVIVA WORLD INDOOR TRIALS AND UK CHAMPSIONSHIPS, EIS SHEFFIELD, FEBRUARY 13TH-14TH
Dwain Chambers and Jenny Meadows lived up to the red-hot favourite tags by producing stunning victories ahead of their search for global glory in Doha next month.
There were plenty of celebratory kisses on Valentine’s Day weekend in the Sheffield English Institute of Sport as the UK indoor trials witnessed some fine performances from athletes seeking places on Team GB for the IAAF World indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar on March 12th-14th.
Scintillating world-lead for Chambers
Dwain Chambers asserted himself as the hot contender for global glory in Doha, as the 31-year-old Belgrave Harrier scorched to a world-leading 6.50 in the 60m final.
Starting as pre-race favourite following his 6.57 victory in the recent Birmingham Games, Chambers added a third-consecutive indoor national title to his athletic resume in scintillating fashion.
Warming up with a 6.64 heat and 6.58 semi, the six-time champion and European indoor 60m title-holder defeated former world junior champion, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and former European indoor silver-medallist, Craig Pickering into second (6.55) and third (6.66) spot, respectively.
Mark Lewis-Francis continued his eye-catching return to form since Achilles surgery with 6.67 for fourth.
In the form of his life despite limited racing opportunities due to his past drugs suspension, Chambers said:
“I don’t know what to say. I’m just glad to be competing again. I really had to run because I had these young boys on my tail. I must be getting better with age, you know. It was good because the pressure was on, not just to win but to run well. Knowing I had these guys behind me – you know Harry and Mark making a fantastic return. It’s going to be a good season for us.
Joint second in the 2008 world indoors and eager to go one better in next months’ championships, Chambers added:
“I’m confident this is just the start and I’m not going to start celebrating till I’ve got that ticket to Doha. When I know I’m definitely going then I can start thinking about winning it.”
Indeed, with British sprinting arguably never looking healthier, we could very well see two members of Team GB on the medal podium in Doha.
Capitalising on his sparkling recent form, an equally-elated Harry A-A revealed his thoughts on his new personal best:
“I feel awesome. This is what you want. I just latched onto Dwain. I’ve been training really hard. We sprinters have got to move up. I’m so happy, my last few indoor seasons have been good but they’ve not been quite there. This time I just put the race together.
The 21-year-old Sutton and District sprinter continued:
“I ran an amazing semi-final. I didn’t know how I was going to get from 6.70 to 6.55. I just knew that things have been going really well. Finally it’s nice to be back in the mix again.”
Pickering (23, of Marshall Milton Keynes AC) was evidently disappointed to further lose his grip on the British indoor number one mantle in recent years:
“Obviously, I am disappointed that Harry ran so quick as one of my competitors, but fair play to him. I would have liked to have run a bit quicker. I was never working towards Doha, but I would have liked to have been in a position to have said, ‘No, I don’t want to go.’ But at the end of the day I think it’s been worthwhile running indoors. And now I’ve got some things to improve for outdoors. It’s good to have people running quickly because you know you’ve got to pull out your best performance; it’s positive for the sport.”
100m title no.6 and 200m title no.2 for Maduaka
Experience triumphed over fresh talent as 36-year-old Joice Maduaka continued her renaissance by claiming her sixth national indoor 60m crown over new Team GB member, Bernice Wilson in a season’s best of 7.29 to Wilson’s 7.39.
Fresh from her fastest short sprint in three years (7.32 in late January), the Woodford Green with Essex Ladies sprinter progressed through the rounds with 7.43 and 7.35 to produce a strong display in the final ahead of the 25-year-old Birchfield Harrier. City of Plymouth’s 30-year-old Katherine Endacott took the same time as Wilson for a close third.
Now with the world indoor qualifying time under her belt, Maduaka said of the race that earned her the Aviva ‘performance of day one’reward:
“That’s good! One last thing to worry about. I can’t complain with that. I am happy because I am coming back from Moscow flu and hit rock bottom last week but I’m on the way up now.”
The 2008 200m champion returned to the track on day-two to take the 200m title to register the fastest time of the season with 23.48, ahead of Endacott (23.57).
Maduaka explained: “Training’s going well; I’m just having fun, remembering why I decided to take up this sport. I’ve been running round on a search for a coach, I knew what I was looking for and I found him. I’m learning; to be in the sport for so long and still be learning is great.
“I’ll go to the world indoors and then go from there. I don’t want anything this time round so I can’t disappoint myself, whatever comes I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Rutherford ruins Tomlinson’s lucky no.7 bid
UK outdoor record-holder, Greg Rutherford spoiled the party as he took long-jump victory over the indoor national record-holder and rival, Chris Tomlinson.
The 23-year-old Marshall Milton Keynes athlete took his first senior national indoor title, following a great summer in which he placed fifth in the world outdoor championships.
Jumping a best of 7.94m to Tomlinson’s best of 7.75m, Rutherford said:
“I’m pleased with the win but I just got a little bit tired in the last rounds. I wanted to get over eight (metres) but it just didn’t happen today. The indoors was to kind of see where we were, I’m pretty behind on training but I’ve had a solid block recently which is good.”
Rutherford continued: “I might compete next week; I’ll sit down with my coach and see. Things are going in the right direction; the partnership with Dan (Pfaff) is fantastic. It’s great to have him at the side of the track.”
Newham, Essex and Beagles’ 28-year-old Tomlinson could not replicate his recent UK-leading 7.99m and revealed his dismay:
“I wanted to come here and do well but I’m disappointed. I’m not sure about Doha. I said last year that I only wanted to go to Champs if I could jump well and medal.”
Business as usual for Meadows
World 800m bronze-medallist Jenny Meadows showed the type of form which could see her medal in Doha in an impressive front-running display in the women’s 800m final.
Collecting her third-successive indoor national crown with consummate ease, the Wigan and District 28-year-old followed up her recent Glasgow International win and second-place 2:00.71 run in Russia with a fine gun-to-tape determined piece of running to clock 2:00.91; a new stadium record.
Evidently rounding into global gold-winning shape, Meadows – now a six-time winner of the event - said:
“It would have been nice to go under two-minutes but I know that I am in good shape and am in 1.59 shape. Glasgow, two weeks ago was about getting the rustiness out. Moscow last week, was better but I do think that I can hopefully run a 1.58 in Doha.”
Liverpool’s Vicky Griffiths showed a strong turn of speed on the final circuit to finish a clear second in a season’s best of 2:02.94. The 25-year-old is also under the Doha qualifier of 2:04 and should produce a fine performance on her senior international debut if selected.
Tough battle between Oni and Parsons
With Olympic finalist Martyn Bernard missing from the event – and making an unexpected 49.83 appearance for fifth in his 400m heat – the run-way was clear for a two-way challenge.
Samson Oni got the better of Olympic finalist, Tom Parsons in a thrilling high-jump battle, as both athletes took three attempts at 2.28m but ultimately, the 28-year-old Belgrave Harrier took the victory on count-back with 2.25m.
Oni had a first-time clearance of the height with Parson’s clearance coming on attempt three – albeit an indoor PB for the 25-year-old Birchfield Harrier, in a competition constantly interrupted by the hurdles and pole-vault proceedings.
Oni, sixth in last year’s trials and currently leading the UK rankings with 2.28m said:“I was having all sorts of problems today. I came here very tired because of the long drive up from London and then we were having all sorts of problems with the bed. So I wasn’t feeling my best and would definitely have liked to jump higher. But in the end it was most important to win today. I’ve got the qualifier already so that was the most important thing.
“The height was slightly disappointing. But I won the competition and I’m happy about that.”
BEST OF THE REST
Fresh from a morale-boosting victory at the Glasgow International, Enfield and Haringey’s 24-year-old Leon Baptiste continued his eye-catching winter form by blistering to a PB and European-leading 20.90 in the 200m final.
Baptiste said: “That was good, I’m really pleased. I would have liked to have gone quicker. I was in lane six and there was no one in lane five so I felt like I was running the race by myself.
“Last year I was disappointed, hopefully going into this season I can perform and make the European Championships, that’s the main thing for me; to come top two at the trials. To try and medal at the Europeans is the aim. I was having a look at the world rankings and I think that race will have put me up there- I’ll take that! Outdoors is obviously the main aim, we need to do the business.”
City of York’s Richard Buck composed himself well after being barged by Bedford’s Nigel Levine to capture his third 400m title. The 23-year-old European indoor 5th-placer from last year was struck as Bedford’s Levine (20) cut in sharply just after the bell but sprinted home in determined fashion to clock 47.54 with Levine registering 47.73. Buck is still yet to find the 47.00 Doha qualifier this season.
A frustrated Buck said: “That was messy and far from my best. I thought I had the break but Levine was like a rocket, he came out from nowhere – he was trying to get the inside line and I didn’t want to give it up. He wasn’t going to bail on it and neither was I, so we had to have a bit of a scrap in there.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better result, slightly disappointed with the time but I’m sure that’s down to what happened in the race and I hope to get better in Birmingham.”
Kim Wall (26, Basildon AC) took advantage of Vicky Barr’s withdrawal from the 400m final, to run the fastest time of the season ahead of Wigan and District’s 21-year-old former European junior 200m champion, Hayley Jones. The 2005 champion ran 53.07 to Jones’ 53.85.
Wall said: “I’m glad to get my national title back but I hadn’t really aimed for the indoor season. It wasn’t my personal best and I’m a bit gutted about that, but it was still close.
“I’ve got a new coach so will definitely be touching base with him to see what my next step will be.”
Harrow AC’s Andrew Osagie showed tactic nuance beyond his twenty-one years by tracking former champion, Ed Aston (21, Cambridge) and Paul Bradshaw (22, Blackburn) until blasting away in the final 50m of the 800m final. Osagie’s winning time of 1:50.21 was followed by Bradshaw’s PB of 1:50.55 and Aston’s 1:50.58 in third.
25-year-old Colin McCourt battled with Belgrave’s Tim Bayley (28) in a final 400m burn-up in a frustratingly slow 1500m final to win in 4:04.83; the slowest time in the history of the championships.
Fresh from a plethora of domestic and international victories on the cross-country circuit, Aldershot, Farnham and District’s Andy Vernon took a mainly pedestrian 3,000m race up to another gear with a final 150m devastating kick to breeze past long-time leader, Tom Lancashire.
The 24-year-old bided his time whilst Bolton’s 24-year-old Lancashire took charge of the field after the 1,000m mark to claim his first national indoor title in 8:00.70 from Lancashire’s 8:04.07.
Vernon said: “With about six laps to go, I put a bit of a boot in but when he (Lancashire) came past me I thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve gone too early.’ But I managed to refocus and go after him. With about two laps to go I thought, ‘He’s not pushing it on any more. I can reel him back in.’ So I’m happy I did that.
“I said before I came here that I’d be happy with anything close to eight minutes – like 7-something to 8:03 – I’m pretty pleased with the time. The qualifying mark is not something I am concentrating on. If I get it, then that’s a bonus. I’ll be running in Birmingham next week now - I expect that race will go out a little quicker than this one! We’ll see what happens.”
GB 3,000m and steeplechase representative, Helen Clitheroe went back to her track roots by claiming gold in the 1500m. In a gun-to-tape victory, the 36-year-old Preston Harrier pulled clear of Ireland’s Rose-Anne Galligan (22) in the final circuit for a comfortable 4:13.90 win.
Clitheroe revealed: “It’s actually a lot of pressure coming to events like this knowing you’ve got the best time. It’s quite hard to go to the front to run hard and win. I wanted to try and run a decent pace and hope to pull some of the others to a good time. It’s great to come here and win though.
“I raced three times the week before last and this week I had to train really hard so it was a little bit of a risk coming into this. But I got a decent race out of it and now just have to hope the selectors like what they saw.
“I’ve done everything I can do – I got the qualifying time and won the trials, so I hope I’m picked. Then I’ll need to get a little nippier before I go to Doha.”
Gloucester’s Gemma Turtle captured the women’s 3,000m title. The 23-year-old, who has already run 8:56.14 this season in addition to 32:52 for 10km on the roads, stormed to a 9:02.81 victory over Stroud’s 20-year-old Emily Pidgeon (9:04.11).
In the absence of World fourth-placer, Will Sharman and British outdoor champion Andy Turner, European under23 110m hurdles bronze-medallist Callum Priestley added the British indoor 60m hurdles title to his resume with a 7.69 gun-to-tape run on his 21st birthday. The Woodford Green with Essex Ladies athlete beat Gianni Frankis; the man who beat him to the Euro silver medal, into second (7.76).
Priestley said: “I’m really pleased with that. I wanted to come and take the title and I was close to the (World indoor) qualifying standard. I hit a couple of hurdles as well so I know there’s more to come. I was only a hundredth off my PB today as well so I’m really happy I won the race.”
Gemma Bennett retained her 60m hurdles title in a season’s best of 8.20. The 26-year-old Shaftesbury Barnett Harrier finished shortly behind Irish international Derval O’Rourke.
Vicki Hubbard improved on her 2009 third place to win the high jump in 1m87. The 20-year-old Grantham athlete passed on her PB height of 1m89 to attempt 1m92 on three close occasions.
Hubbard revealed: “I really wanted that 92 [1.92m], but this indoor season has gone so well so far so I can’t really complain. I’m just coming back from two years of injuries so I’m happy with the win. I’m not going off my full run-up at the moment but I jumped a PB off that so I’m sticking to it for the rest of the indoors.”
World 7th-placer and reigning champion, Steve Lewis predictably took the men’s pole-vault final in 5.56m. The 23-year-old Newham, Essex and Beagles jumper does however, need to find another gear to feature in Doha.
Kate Dennison suffered a blip in her national-record-breaking filled season, as the 25-year-old Sale Harrier could only clear 4.40m in the pole-vault. Taking her fifth-consecutive title, Dennison took three attempts but could not improve on her national record of 4.57m.
She said: “I’m a bit gutted but you can’t win them all. Despite that, things are going well. I jumped alright today, I know I need to be jumping 4.60m in the final in Doha so making it might be tough with eight other girls to go through.”
“Training has helped me; winter training was great with no major hiccups. I had a few minor niggles but that’s how things go, so all is good,” Dennison continued.
Nadia Williams added the national indoor crown to her outdoor victory last summer, as the 28-year-old Shaftesbury Barnett Harrier produced a consistent series in the women’s triple jump to register 13m41; with a winning margin of 63cm.
“It’s great to get the UK title but obviously I wanted a better jump today. I’m feeling in really good form but I’m just waiting for everything to click into place so I can get that big jump out. I can feel it in me,” Williams explained.
Doha selection standards:
The first-placed athlete at the Aviva World Indoor Trials achieving or already in possession of the standard will be selected. Up to two athletes per event can be chosen when the selection committee announces the Team GB squad for Doha on Monday the 22nd of February.