Monday, 5 December 2011

Magical Murray


Despite having missed seven months of competition through injury, Scottish distance-runner Freya Murray has recently bounced back into the international fold as she looks ahead to making her Olympic debut next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 28-year-old from Edinburgh endured painful Achilles, back and hip troubles in the spring and summer, forcing her to swap her running shoes for gym and pool gear for the majority of 2011 - yet the hard work has evidently bore fruit, as the Chester-le-Street runner last weekend returned to top form in time for Team GB selection.

Placing third in the European cross-country Championship trials in Liverpool, Murray sped back into the national squad with relative ease in only her third races since her injury nightmare.

“I'm really pleased with how things went in Liverpool – it was my first cross country race since winning the Scottish title in February last year so I was trying to keep an open mind on how it might go,” she explained.

Coached by British marathon record-holder Steve Jones - who lives in Colorado, USA – Murray had high hopes for qualification for the continental event later this month after finishing a respectable tenth and ninth in the Bupa Great North and Great South Run in September and October, respectively.

Based in Newcastle and working part-time as a structural engineer, Murray continued:

“My training has been progressing well over the last few weeks as I've been gradually building up my mileage and training intensity but I've had to be patient because I didn't want to end up with any more injury problems!

“I'm really looking forward to the Euro’s - the last time I did it in 2009 I finished 9th so I'd like to finish top ten again,” she revealed on the competition taking place in Slovenia in a fortnights’ time.

Bad Luck

A strong performance in southern-European nation would provide a timely confidence boost for Murray, after enduring such disappointments and frustrations off the back of a highly-successful 2010 campaign.

After claiming the British cross-country title and placing thirty-seventh in the World Championships in Poland, she enjoyed a breakthrough in only her third season focusing on the longer-distances on the track.

Igniting her campaign with an impressive 32:23.44 10,000m lifetime best when finishing sixth in the European Cup in France in June, Murray progressed to win both the Scottish and UK 5,000m titles in July before recording her second personal best of the summer with 15:26.5 for 5,000m in Cardiff in August.

But, arguably her performances of the season came in her major championship debut at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last October, where Murray finished a fine fifth in the 10,000m before placing seventh in the shorter event four days later.

Following her exploits in India, the diminutive runner capitalised on her form to break her ten-mile road best with 52:27 when finishing runner-up in the Bupa Great South Run in Portsmouth before her catalogue of injury woes struck.

“I was pretty pleased with how things went in 2010 generally - I felt really strong towards the end of the track season and I think I was in really good shape in Delhi,” she revealed.

“I was a bit disappointed with how I raced but overall the experience was amazing and it was my first multi-sport games - hopefully the first of many.”

“Now hopefully my run of bad luck is over!”

Olympic Focus

Looking ahead with a positive attitude, Murray intends to continue her racing schedule after her forthcoming Team GB duties in her hometown at the Bupa Great Edinburgh international cross-country event in the New Year before enjoying a spell of high-altitude training in Kenya:

“The Edinburgh international cross-country is my favourite cross country race as I used to train in Holyrood Park all the time when I was at university and it's always nice to race back in Scotland,” she explained.

“I'm really looking forward to going to Iten, Kenya in January on the UK Athletics training camp - it's the first time I've been on one and I'm sure it'll be a good experience”

The opportunity to train full-time with Britain’s best and in ideal conditions will represent Murray’s best shot, of course, in preparation for the biggest event of all in 2012 – the Olympic Games in London.

Determined to make her Olympic debut on home soil next August, she is well aware of the need to quickly make up for lost time and further improve her efforts on the track:

“Obviously making the Olympics is the big aim for 2012 but I'm trying not to advertise my ambitions too much for it at the moment,” Murray cautiously reveals.

“It is what I am focusing on but I don't want to put added pressure on myself by broadcasting what I hope to achieve – the competition within Britain for places is going to be strong and in some ways that is a good thing - hopefully the competition will make us all stronger.

“I think the qualifying times are achievable if everything goes well over the next few months so hopefully I'll have a better winters’ training than last year.”

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Steel-ing the Headines


Twelve months ago, Gemma Steel was a relative unknown in British distance running yet after a whirlwind, glittering six-month period, she now has her sights set on the Olympic 10,000m final next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The Leicestershire runner – who has transformed from a pub cleaner outside the top forty in the country to a full-time athlete and prolific major race winner in the last year – has an eye on the 32:10 Olympic ‘B’ standard for the London Games next August and judging by her recent form, she may just achieve her lofty ambition.

Guided by John Nuttall at the Loughborough University campus, Steel has enjoyed a dramatic breakthrough on the national and international scene of late, culminating in her being shortlisted by European Athletics for the ‘European Athlete of the Month’ award for her October performances.

A member of Charnwood AC and only in her sixth year of serious running, Steel scorched to a 72:21 half-marathon lifetime best to win the Bupa Great Birmingham Run last month and also rank as the fourth-fastest British woman of the year – an astonishing improvement of nearly seven minutes and forty-three places since the 2009 season.

Adding to that the notable scalps of World marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe and 2012 marathon hopeful Jo Pavey in the Bupa London 10,000m and Great Yorkshire Run road races in July and October, respectively, and her season was certain to be declared a major revelation indeed.

“It’s been one good race after another recently - I seem to be on a roll,” Steel modestly explained.

“Obviously, beating Paula and Jo were two great experiences for me and being the fastest at the national road relay championships (in Sutton Coldfield over 4.3km last month) was the icing on the cake for me, as I beat one of my biggest rivals in Charlotte Purdue (the Commonwealth 10,000m fourth-placer) and I don’t consider myself a shorter-distance runner.”


Twenty-seventh and fifty-fourth, respectively, in the European and World cross-country Championships on her Team GB debuts last winter, Steel has been shown great versatility over the varying distances and terrains this year, showing fine form over cross-country, 5,000m on the track and 10,000m on the road.

After beginning the year with victory in the Lotto Cross Cup international race in Belgium, she then went on to finish fourth in both the English and British Championships in the mud before turning her attentions to her first love, the road as well as her first serious attempt on the track.

Between April and October, Steel’s finest achievements included placing second in the Bupa Great Ireland Run against a top international field, a twenty-eight second improvement over 10km with 32:48 in London, a forty-seven second personal best over 5km with 16:00 in Norwich in July and winning the Bristol half-marathon in – at the time – a lifetime best of over five minutes.

Such scintillating performances somewhat overshadowed her runs on the track which included reducing her 3,000m best by a minute to 9:29.28 at the Loughborough International in May, a 15:47.21 5,000m debut in the Watford BMC Grand Prix in June and finishing seventh in the Aviva World trials and UK Championships over 5,000m in Birmingham in July.

“I’m surprising myself all the time as I seem to be getting stronger and quicker over all the distances,” Steel revealed.

“I think I’ve improved by targeting different athletes all the time and now it’s Charlotte and Helen Clitheroe (the European indoor 3,000m champion) – I’m taking inspiration from them.

“I’m getting better at shifting up through the gears and I’ve added more volume – I’ve gone from 60 to 75/80 miles per week this year – still only running once a day and it’s suiting me.

Adding that she believes she can run 70-minutes for the half-marathon next year, perhaps in the Reading event in April, Steel continued:

“I train mostly on my own especially now a lot of the Loughborough-based athletes are in Kenya at the minute on the UK Athletics altitude camp but I’m good at motivating myself and training here works for me.”


Fresh from clocking the fastest time at the national cross-country relays in Mansfield last weekend, Steel – who turns 26 on Saturday – intends to give herself a belated present in the form of victory at the UKA McCain Bristol Cross Challenge on Sunday before targeting the European trials in Liverpool a fortnight later.

“I was third in the trials last year and I hope to win it this time – hopefully the European’s will be in similar conditions to here and I hope to do myself justice and make it into the top ten,” she explained on the continental championships in Slovenia next month.

“Then, I’d really like to qualify for the 5,000m at the Olympics but my coach thinks the 10,000m is more realistic,” she revealed.

“I’ve not been racing for too long so I’ll need to work on the psychology to run twenty-five laps in the right way - although I need the experience, I think my strength and speed will help me in the event, maybe the 10,000m will suit me more.

“I’ve not got any pressure on me to qualify for the Olympics as I’m under the radar and I prefer it that way.

“I’ve not got a reputation on the track yet but I hope to change that in the summer – it certainly would be a fairytale to make it after coming from nowhere.”

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Loughborough ‘Future Stars’ Day a Success


Loughborough College yesterday held the fourth ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ education day, where 70 of the UK’s most talented athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 descended on the East Midlands with their parents and coaches to be educated by Dame Kelly Holmes and her team, writes Nicola Bamford.

Selected by the 2004 double Olympic champion herself for their outstanding performances in 2011 at national schools and youth international championships, the athletes included four members of the Aviva GB & NI Team at this year's IAAF World Youth Championships - Georgia Peel (Aldershot, Farnham & District), James McMurray (St Albans) and Robbie Farnham-Rose (Tonbridge AC) who all finished in the top eight in their respective 1500m finals and Katie Snowden who was seventh in the 800m.

In a nine-hour day of educational practical and theoretical workshops for the FSWK athletes and their guests, 15 ‘On Camp with Kelly’ athletes were also on hand throughout the day to act as inspirational role models and offer advice and assistance. They were: Charlotte Best, Suzi Boast, Dani Christmas, Rowena Cole, Lucy Dowsett, Kerrie Harris, Leigh Lennon, Sam Petty, Carolyn Plateau, Zac Randall, Robbie Schofield, Louise Small, Stacey Smith, Linzi Snow and Laura Weightman.

The day began with a welcome introduction from Kelly who highlighted the principles of her OCWK initiative to set a target for the young athletes in front of her to aspire to.

She also outlined the intricate pathway to success from success at schools championships to that of a senior athlete and how the day ahead would increase the athletes’ knowledge through education as well as teaching various parent and coach support methods.

A motivational video montage of her winning displays over 800m and 1500m at the Athens Olympics followed before Kelly warned of the changes which occur in teenage life that can threaten their athletic career.

She then introduced the four athletes who this summer moved from FS to the OCWK scheme and highlighted which characteristics it takes to be successful.

All of the event staff and OCWK athletes introduced themselves and revealed their past English Schools’ achievements before Kelly congratulated the FSWK athletes who competed at the IAAF World Youth, European Junior, European Youth and Commonwealth Youth Championships in 2011.

Next up was a nutritional workshop for parents with performance nutritionist Mhairi Keil, who highlighted the importance and examples of healthy eating for energy and recovery. She then listed the requirements for a young athlete, negative impacts, key times for energy intake, recovery foods and helpful nutrition for injury prevention and assistance.

At the same time, the athletes were either participating in a grass fartlek session led by Kelly with boy’s supervisor Tony Whiteman and a handful of OCWK athletes nipping at their heels, whilst the injured athletes trained in the swimming pool or gym.

Mid-morning saw Kelly and sports physiotherapist Alison Rose take a drills session
in the sports hall for the more recent members of the FSWK scheme and their coaches.

They explained the importance of rehabilitation, dynamic and commonly-used drills whilst OCWK athlete Laura Weightman demonstrated the exercises to the group as Alison took them through each phase with technical advice.

The athletes then did a series of walk-through drills to practice with assistance from their OCWK counterparts, as Kelly helped the coaches themselves practice to further their knowledge and understanding, who then worked alongside their charges to provide feedback.

The more experienced athletes, coaches and parents, meanwhile, took part in a 100% me workshop with the UK Anti-Doping team, who tested them in a ‘Weakest Link’-type quiz on how to be responsible with what they digest, the values of competing clean and drug testing procedures, whilst the first-time parents to the FSWK scheme attended a parent’s workshop with Next Generation Coaching director Sonya Shellard, who emphasised the various demands on their children and how to use language, praise and distance to help them relax and grow.

In the early afternoon, the coaches attended a circuits discussion with Kelly and supervisor and level three endurance coach Stella Bandu to devise ideas for future sessions, whilst the male athletes, their parents and coaches enjoyed a healthy lunch and took part in an anti-doping quiz.

Before the female athletes and their guests could enjoy a well-earned break, they sat in an eye-opening lecture on the Female Athlete Triad, led by Dr Paul Goozee, a GP, cardiology hospital practioner and England team doctor with Mhairi Keil.

The audience learned about the risks of having low body fat, the importance of eating correctly, menstrual disturbances, causes and signs of disorded eating and diagnosis and treatments, as well as watching an emotional video case study from Australian distance runner and anorexia survivor Georgie Clarke.

In mid-afternoon, the female athletes and their coaches and parents took part in the anti-doping quiz, whilst the males athletes and their guests attended a Staying Fit and Healthy workshop with Dr Goozee.

Next up was another 100% me workshop for the newer attendees whilst Mhairi Keil took some parents through a practical cooking lesson, where they cooked up energy bars, frittata and lime chicken stir-fry to take away as their children participated in an injury-prevention session with Alison Rose, who guided them through a practical functional movement screen to test the strength and flexibility of their calves, hamstrings and glutes, for example.

Nearing the end of the day, as the parents took part in a follow-up parent’s workshop on providing positive support, Kelly drilled all of the athletes in a vigorous circuit training session in the sports hall as their coaches looked on and gave advice. Kelly explained the benefits of such sessions as well as safety tips for participating in large groups, followed by demonstrations from OCWK athletes and impressive displays from Kelly herself. After a mass warm-up, and arduous session ensued with the athletes lined up in pairs to execute a tiring series of tricep dips, ab crunches, squat thrusts and sprinting.

To finish the day on a motivational note, World 1500m silver-medallist Hannah England and World 800m semi-finalist Emma Jackson – both OCWK athletes for a number of years – took part in a question and answer session. After watching inspirational video clips of their finest performances, the floor were given the chance to ask about their days as younger athletes, lives as full-time athletes and thoughts on their recent achievements – providing a fitting end to an action-packed day for all involved.

English Schools’ intermediate 800m bronze-medallist Dudley Mason gave his thoughts on the day:

“I mostly enjoyed doing the session with the athletes but in a more friendly environment where you can have a laugh.

“I learned the importance of drills and also getting nutritional help to make sure I’m eating right was helpful.

“It’s a great pleasure to be selected for Future Stars as I am amongst the top 70 in the country.

“My plans for the winter season are to train hard and do well in cross-country and indoor races.”

English Schools’ intermediate 3,000m champion, Natalia Hackett explained:

“I enjoyed meeting Kelly Holmes and learning lots from herself and her team.

“I’ve learned lots of new drills which will help my efficient and help with injury prevention and I enjoyed learning about the female athlete triad.

“It’s a real honour to be selected for the FSWK initiative and to be around other great athletes and Kelly herself.

“My biggest achievement of 2011 was winning the English Schools’ in a personal best and being selected to run for England and my plans for the winter are to have a good cross-country season.”

Meanwhile, David Paulson, father of Will, the English Schools’ intermediate 1500m champion said:

“The day was really well organised and Kelly is obviously a great role model for the athletes.

“We’ve learnt lots today and it’s a great opportunity for us and Will’s coach Chris to support him better and he’s learned a lot today as well so everybody wins.”

Trevor Muxlow, the coach to Robert Needham, the English Schools’ senior 800m champion revealed:

“I’ve found today very informative and I’ve been very impressed with seeing Kelly demonstrating the drills and circuits with great technical skill, it’s great to see she’s maintained such a great level of fitness.

“Being an old-fashioned coach, I found the drills session the most informative with the technical advice provided and we’ve really enjoyed the day.”

OCWK athlete and UK 1500m indoor champion Stacey Smith gave her opinion on the day:

“It’s nice to see these young one’s come through and learn so much here.

“I think today’s been a really good day and the atmosphere has showed that everyone was really up for it – they’ve taken a lot away from today.

“I started on OCWK four years ago and it’s really developed me as an athlete so much so I’ve got to thank them a lot for what they’ve done.”

The last word on the event was left for Kelly herself, who explained:

“The day was a great success – we had a great turnout of athletes, coaches and parents and I hope they’ve all learnt something from the day.

“All of the athletes really got stuck in and applied themselves well so as long as they can focus on what they’ve learned today, they can use the skills and tools from today to be great athletes later on.

“The OCWK athletes always make me proud and are getting better and better themselves – they’re now realising that being leaders was key today and it was good that they were on hand to answer the younger athletes’ questions today.”

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dai Hard Regime


After clinching a spectacular global 400m hurdles gold last month, Dai Greene intends to boost his training load this winter in his search for Olympic glory in London ten months from now, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 25-year-old Welshman has revealed that in a bid to increase his aerobic capacity and strength endurance for the gruelling one-lap barrier event next summer, he will spend the next few months supplementing his training with four mile runs and kilometre repetitions – a bold and unusual move for a sprint hurdler.

Based in Bath under the tutelage of coaching legend Malcolm Arnold, Greene explained:

“I’ve recently moved house to only five minutes away from the track so this winter, I’ll start to train twice a day and we’ve got a lot more medical support here now after the success of the group this summer.

“Typically, I will do fartlek or hills in the morning then a 25-30min run or a running session and gym work in the afternoon – the strongest will survive next year and hopefully it will pay dividends for me.”

Dream Result

The decision to sacrifice more of his time and energy over the winter months of course extends from Green’s innate desire to build upon his recent World Championship victory to grab the prestigious Olympic crown, and judging from his form of late, he may well achieve his athletic dream next summer.

The British number-one for the past three seasons, Greene enjoyed a stellar 2011 campaign in which he not only captured an impressive gold medal in Daegu, South Korea in 48.26 but also took the IAAF Diamond League title on the international circuit, won the Aviva British Grand Prix in Birmingham in a season’s best of 48.20 and reduced his 400m flat best to 45.82 to rank eighth on the national rankings for the year – most of which were achieved whilst coping with a secret injury:

“I raced with a bad hip throughout the season but didn’t tell anyone and it managed to clear up before the World’s,” revealed Greene.

“It hindered and affected some of my earlier races and slowed me down. I was confident I’d get the British record and if it hadn’t have been for the injury, I would have nailed it – hopefully it will come but I’m not aiming for it.”

The illusive mark is 47.82 is owned by 1992 Olympic bronze-medallist Kriss Akabussi and is 19-years-old but Greene came close when clocking his lifetime best of 47.88 whilst taking the Continental Cup title in Croatia on the back of his European Championship victory and just before claiming Commonwealth gold a year ago – and despite not being as quick this summer, he is still very satisfied:

“I worked very hard so it was a dream result to get the gold and it was great to improve on the two golds from last year - I was overjoyed to deliver when it mattered most,” Greene explained.

“I believed I was one of three who could get the win but I was confident of winning throughout the rounds.

“I haven’t been on the world scene for long but I’ve been in the top three in every race since June 2010 and always believed I could do it – it made me very happy.”


Having only taken up the sport six years ago, the Swansea Harrier has indeed come a long way since taking the 2003 continental under23 crown.

A former promising footballer with the Swansea City FC youth team, Greene failed to make the 2008 squad for the Beijing Olympics and placed only seventh in the World Championships the following season, but it was in 2010 when he truly broke onto the world scene with two major championship titles and he has evidently since continued his taste for winning ways.

Training alongside the current European under23 champion, Jack Green and
Commonwealth 110m hurdles bronze-medallist Lawrence Clarke, Greene – after a months’ break and a holiday in Mauritius - is set to resume the hard graft this Sunday and heads for a four-week spell of warm-weather training in South Africa in December whilst keeping his rivals at the forefront of his mind for extra motivation:

“I’d say the Olympic gold is between the five of us (Javier Coulson, LJ Van Zyl, Bershawn Jackson, Kerron Clement and himself) and at least two of us will be vying for gold next year,” he revealed.

“Jack and I have a great laugh together – he’s a good person to have nipping at my heels and after it was just me and Rhys (Williams, the European silver-medallist) for a few years, the youngsters came through this year like Nathan (Woodward) and Jack so the standard’s picked up and it was great to have three athletes reach at least the semi-finals in Daegu – hopefully we’ll can have three in the final in 2012.

“I still have a hard test ahead next year but the expectations don’t bother me – I’ll just keep doing my best each day.

“I want to run consistently quicker next year and put myself in the running as the favourite before the Games then get the gold - I like people to worry about me on the start-line and it would be good to reinforce the season I had this year.”

Friday, 14 October 2011

Gemma Steels Victory from Pavey


Bupa Great Yorkshire Run, Sheffield, October 9th, 2011

Steel surprises marathon-bound Pavey, as Kogo dominates over Thompson, the runner-up again.

A month later than its usual date in the racing calendar, the annual 10km road race in the steel city of Sheffield enjoyed two dominating victories and thrilling finish-line battles in mild and breezy conditions, writes Nicola Bamford.


UK half-marathon champion Gemma Steel caused a stir when taking the notable scalp of 2012 Olympic marathon hopeful Jo Pavey in an impressive twenty second-winning margin with 32:52.

The 25-year-old Charnwood AC runner stepped up from placing third in the 2010 event to storm clear in the final two kilometres and capture her most impressive victory to date.

Guided by John Nuttall in Loughborough, Steel revealed afterwards:

“It was brilliant, I can’t believe I was running with Jo Pavey and beating her is a great achievement!”

After winning the Bristol half-marathon and finishing third in a below-par 33:47 in the Swansea Bay 10km recently, she continued:

“My legs were still tired in Swansea after doing the half-marathon so I’m really pleased with the time today, it’s only four seconds off my PB.”

Arguably one of the biggest breakthrough athletes on the female domestic distance-running circuit in recent seasons, Steel will next tackle the National road relay Championships in Sutton Coldfield next weekend before moving to the half-marathon at the Bupa Great Birmingham Run the following week.

“I want to do well there and I want to win the RunBritain Grand Prix road series,” explained Steel.

“I also want to do better than twenty-seventh from last year in the European cross (in Slovenia) this December.”

Pavey, meanwhile, was disappointed to clock only 33:12 in the runner-up position but cited the heavy mileage of marathon training as the understandable cause of her fatigue.

Focused on a strong performance in the New York marathon on November sixth, the 38-year-old Exeter Harrier managed to share the lead with Steel for much of the race but was left wanting for a turn of speed in the final mile.

“I didn’t feel very good as I’m in hard marathon training and I’m feeling it quite tough to race but that’s not taking anything away from Gemma as she ran really well and a good race,” the mother-of-one revealed.

Having already gained the Olympic marathon qualifying time from April’s London marathon, Pavey is keen to make up for the frustration of being forced to withdraw from Augusts’ World Championships in Daegu due to a foot injury.

Placing fourth in a solid 70:49 in the Bupa Great North Run last month will have gone some way to boosting her confidence and the former track star insists on looking at the bigger picture:

“It wasn’t a great run because I’m not easing down so I’m a bit disappointed but it’s a new scenario for me, not being able to prepare for races en route to the marathon.

“Hopefully today’s been a good blowout, though and training’s been going really well so I’m still positive for New York.”

Also joining the medals podium was Ireland’s 36-year-old Maria McCambridge. The 2004 Olympic 5,000m representative registered 34:39 for third place ahead of Kendal AC’s Rebecca Robinson.

The 28-year-old 2010 European Championship marathon runner clocked 35:08 on her return from a spell of injury as she juggles the sport with a busy life in medicine.


UK all-comer’s record-holder Micah Kogo ensured Aldershot’s Chris Thompson was reduced to the runner-up position for the second-consecutive year as the Kenyan sped to a fine 28:45 victory, with the European 10,000m silver-medallist eighteen-seconds adrift.

Replacing last years’ winner, Craig Mottram of Australia a fortnight before, the former 10km road world record-holder (with a scintillating 27:01) established a strong pace from the outset with 2:50 and 2:56 splits, as Thompson and fellow Brits Andrew Lemoncello and Stuart Stokes joined him for company.

At the 3km mark, Kogo and Thompson forged clear and enjoyed a 20m advantage before reaching half-way in 14:36.

By the 6km point, Kogo, the Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist, had broken clear on his own as the 30-year-old Thompson settled in 10m behind, 200m clear of Lemoncello and Stokes.

As Kogo reached 8km in 22:51 after a 2:42 split - the fastest of the race so far - the damage was complete as despite slowing in the final mile, Thompson was unable to catch the African in time for the finish-line.

A delighted Kogo said afterwards:

“I’m really happy especially as I watched Sheffield Wednesday win 3-1 yesterday (over Chesterfield).

“Today was a fantastic moment for me. I thought Chris Thompson would give me a tough challenge so I pushed on and he followed me until around 6km. The weather conditions and course made it a tough run.

“I’m going back to Kenya tomorrow to have a two-week break then do some cross-country and road and I hope to make the Kenyan Olympic team for 2012 – it’s very hard but my focus is to be the fastest.”

Thompson meanwhile, was annoyed to lose out on the top spot again but having not raced through injury since the Aviva London Grand Prix in early August, he was still philosophical about the rest of the winter season:

“I’ve got to win one of these things, geez!” he exclaimed.

“I was second last year, and fifth and sixth the years before so I’m disappointed to miss out on the win again.

“I’ve got a lot of crap in my legs and didn’t feel particularly great but tried to conserve as much energy as I could.”

Coached by John Nuttall and Mark Rowland, the latter whilst basing himself in the United States, Thompson continued:

“He (Kogo) broke away at exactly the same time as (Haile) Gebrselassie did in Manchester (in May) and I don’t have the fitness and oomph to go with it so I held back and tried to finish strongly, hoping he would tire.

“I started to come back at him with 2km to go but he looked at me then pushed again – he was the better runner on the day and I did everything I could with the fitness I had. It was really windy in our faces the whole way.”

He will next compete in the Bupa Great South Run in three weeks’ time before heading back to America to begin the hard graft of winter training with an eye on an Olympic berth in London next summer.

Clocking 29:57 each, Lemoncello and Stokes provided the most nail-biting finish of the morning with each dipping on the line after running the majority of the race together.

Getting the verdict for third place, Fife’s Lemoncello gave himself an early 29th birthday present and improved on fourth position last year to pip Stokes for the second consecutive week.

Placing seventh in the Bupa Great Edinburgh 10km the weekend before, Lemoncello was three seconds quicker here and was content with his run after returning from injury:

“It’s good as last week was my first race – it’s a good fitness test,” he explained.

“I’ve had a hamstring tendon injury since March which got worse just before the marathon in Daegu (which he withdrew from prior to the event).

“I tried to go with Chris but couldn’t match it but it was good to run with Stuart – I tried to put a burst in at 6km and we worked together from there.”

The Scot now turns his attentions to gaining the Olympic marathon qualifying time in the Fukuoka marathon two months from now, but will first use either a 15km road race in Oklahoma or the Bupa Great South Run to prepare.

Sale Harriers’ Stokes, meanwhile, improved from seventh position in 2010 and was four seconds quicker than in Edinburgh. The 34-year-old Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase fifth-placer heads into the winter with the aim of making his Olympic debut nearing the end of a long athletic career.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Overall, Very Good


On his marathon debut in Berlin last month, Scott Overall caused a stir by running the fastest time by a British man in four years and now, the Londoner has his sights firmly set on Olympic glory next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 28-year-old only switched his attentions to the 26.2 mile distance back in May but his startling progress when finishing fifth in a world-class field in the German capital was a pleasant surprise for men’s distance running in the UK.

A former training partner to world 5,000m champion Mo Farah in their teenage years, the Blackheath and Bromley AC runner stormed to a 2:10.55 clocking to begin his marathon career at a promising twenty-fourth on the national all-time list and now, quite understandably, has strong Olympic aspirations:

“Now my target’s the Olympic marathon and I hope to find out if I’m selected in the first wave of selections in early December so I can plan ahead,” he explained.

“I hope the Olympics will be my next marathon and my focus there will be on a place not a time.

“The Olympic marathon might not be fast as it’s a championship race but I hope to get into 2:07 shape and make it into the top ten - the position is the important thing – anything can happen and I hope to be in contention.”


Guided by Arizona-based Robert Chapman, where Overall trains for only one or two months of the year with the Team Arizona Elite squad, the Butler University,
Indianapolis graduate is a former 5,000m track runner and his frustrations with both the event and terrain led him to change his direction in the sport:

“I switched to marathon training after training well at altitude in Flagstaff and running quite well in the half-marathon (63:21 in May),” he revealed.

“I had a conversation with Dave Bedford – the former World 10,000m record-holder - at the London Marathon about an attempt to get the Olympic qualifying time and so decided on Berlin and they funded me to go out there.

“My coach believed that I could do the distance and get a positive experience from it – we thought I was in shape to run 2:12 but running 2:10 on my debut and racing the last half all on my own was a surprise.”

Unusually, admitting to racing without a watch, Overall continued:

“I went in a bit naive but that was quite helpful as I didn’t know what to expect and nothing really went wrong apart from missing my drink at the 30km mark.

“I felt good the whole way – I reached half-way in 65:17 in twelfth position feeling relaxed and waited until 30km to push on and I passed lots of runners in the second half - it was a slow build up of fatigue and I only felt tired in the last 5km.”

Such an outstanding performance on his first attempt at the distance has led many to question why the athlete did not tackle the event before now but Overall insists:

“Maybe I could have done well in the marathon a year or two ago but then I would have been wondering about what I could have done on the track.

“And I may go back to the 5,000m on occasion as marathon running makes you stronger,” continued the 2009 UK champion, who has a best time of 13:28.33 from the 2008 season.

“I’ve got a good endurance base from years of training which is helping me - I’ve always ran 90-100miles a week so I haven’t changed much in training – my highest recently was 120miles, which isn’t as high as the best in the world.”


Next racing over only 6km in the National road relay championships in Birmingham this weekend, followed by the Bupa Great South Run ten-mile event in Portsmouth at the end of the month, Overall now has more time on his hands after giving up his part-time job in a running shop:

“I’ve given up my job as the London Marathon is now kindly supporting me up until the Olympics,” he explained.

“This will mean I will hopefully get away to Kenya and Font Romeu for more altitude training around March - it’s a great help as it will also give me more time for training and recovery.”

With the Olympic marathon on the streets of London only ten months away, Overall is planning a unique way to experience the course beforehand:

“It’s possible I may do some pace-making in the London marathon in April at around 2:08/9 pace to get the feel for it before the Games, as I’d really like to get my half-marathon time down next year,” he revealed.

“Longer term, I’d also like to have a bash at the British record – of 2:07.13 set by Steve Jones 25-years ago - in a big city marathon but hopefully by then Mo hasn’t taken it up by then!

“But first I have my club record – of 2:09.17 set by Mark Steinle nine years ago - to target.

“How many Olympic Games will I ever have on my doorstep? It will be really special for me and an amazing experience so I hope to get to the start-line healthy and ready.”

Olympic Run Motivates England


Having enjoyed the privilege of becoming the first elite athlete to sample the new 2012 Olympic track, 1500m star Hannah England is now more inspired than ever to capture her second major medal next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 24-year-old Oxford runner joined Games chairman and former double Olympic metric mile champion Lord Sebastian Coe on a lap inside the recently-opened stadium last week and the experience has left England with a strong taste for further global success:

“Getting to run on the Olympic track made me want to get back into training early,” the Birmingham-based athlete revealed.

“It’s an awesome stadium and it’s really motivated me. I really want to make the final next year and I should be capable of getting a medal if training goes well.”


Guided by Bud Baldaro, the UK number-one for the past two seasons has a realistic shot at that aim, too, after sensationally clinching a surprise silver medal at the World Championships in Daegu back in August.

After finishing only sixth in the semi-final stage in Korea, England stormed past several runners in the finishing straight to clock 4:05.68 and collect her first major championship medal.

The eye-catching performance was all the more impressive, too, considering an early-season Achilles injury had threatened her participation in the event, but after registering a glittering 4:01.89 lifetime best in Barcelona in July, England knew something special could have been on the cards:

“The final felt so relaxed and I enjoyed it, which showed in my running,” she explained.

“It was just another race in my mind and was really satisfying to know that after all the planning and hard cross-training throughout the injury – with five weeks of no running - we got it right so it gave me great confidence.

“I didn’t realise my perfect race could be that good - I didn’t lose my cool on the finishing straight and I did everything right in terms of my position and conserving my energy well throughout the rounds.”


A graduate of Birmingham and Florida State University, England’s smart tactics paid off again when enjoying a trio of promising post-Daegu performances.

After recording her second-fastest ever time of 4:02.03 in the Brussels Diamond League in September, the 2008 NCAA indoor mile and outdoor 1500m champion returned to UK shores to win her third-consecutive Bupa Great North CityGames road mile for Team GB the following day, before speeding to second on the British all-time list in the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York with 4:22.6.

Having had two weeks off training recently, England will target a 3,000m indoor lifetime best in the New Year – a year before she is set to marry 3,000m steeplechase UK number-one Luke Gunn in January 2013:

“We’ll plan it all mostly after the Olympics so we’ll be very stressed this time next year!” England admits.

Before then, the duo will have the important matter of ensuring qualification and top fitness for the Games next summer and England has an intricate training plan set out already:

“We’re off to Kenya for a month in November then I’ll be in Florida for a month in March, Font Romeu at Easter for a month then Loughborough for the Team GB training camp,” she explained.

With eight months spent either high-altitude or warm-weather training, England will be sure to escape the pressure of expectation in the countdown to her Olympic debut and after agonisingly missing the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she is determined more than most to make her appearance count.


Mentored by 2004 double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, England is evidently a much-improved athlete to the runner who finished only tenth at European level last summer, fourth and fifth in the Commonwealth Games this time last year and only fifth in the heats at the European indoors back in the spring.

Yet, quite gracefully, she still insists that such experiences were still useful to her longer-term development:

“Having the chance to do two championships last year was good as living and breathing the training camp and competition experience, made Daegu feel normal,” England revealed.

Fresh from the glamorous British Olympic Ball last week, England continues:

“It was really nice and really fun to be part of - It was a nice thing to do before the start of my winter training and it got us both excited about the Olympics.

“Now the 2011 season and champs are out of the way, the last month has really made 2012 seem more real but the 1500m’s such a strong event and there are hundreds of steps to take before then.”

Friday, 7 October 2011

Perri Shakes it Up


After missing out on the World Championship final by an agonising 0.01 margin back in August, 400m hurdler Perri Shakes-Drayton is more determined than ever to make an Olympian impact at the London Games next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 22-year-old hails from the capital, too, making her an ideal poster girl for the biggest sporting event of 2012 and Shakes-Drayton has no intention on missing out on the one lap hurdles final again.

Coached by Chris Zah at Brunel University, the UK champion enjoyed a sublime 2011 campaign in which she registered a 2:08.35 800m personal best after loading the over-distance work in the winter and spring before speeding to an impressive 51.47 400m flat lifetime best in the Rome Diamond League in the early season.

A dominant flat and hurdles double victory at the UK Championships and World trials followed, before a 54.62 season’s best at the Aviva London Grand Prix and a 55.07 clocking for third in the semi-final stage at the global championships in Daegu - where she missed out on a place in the final by just one position.

Although understandably disappointed, Shakes-Drayton consoled herself with the fact that she had consolidated her ninth-place ranking prior to the competition and she picked herself up to lead off the Team GB 4x400m relay team in a strong position before they finished fourth.

“As with every season, 2011 was another progression and I’m just driven and determined to keep improving year on year,” she revealed.

“My training went really well leading up to the World’s - I remained injury-free for the entire season which meant I was in great shape on arrival at the pre-World’s training camp and got some solid work done - despite it pouring down with rain every day!

“My aim was obviously to make the final so to miss out by such a small margin was gutting, however, I used this disappointment and summoned all my competitive spirit for the relay which I thoroughly enjoyed even though we missed out on a medal.”


Despite the business end of her season being lined with frustration, the Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets athlete has evidently made a significant shift up in performance since the summer of 2010.

Then, the former 100m hurdler built on her European under23 title from the previous year to capture a surprise European senior bronze in Barcelona in a breakthrough season in the senior ranks.

Speeding to third on the British all-time lists (behind 1992 Olympic champion Sally Gunnell and 2008 Olympic bronze-medallist Tasha Danvers) with an eye-catching 54.18 lifetime best, Shakes-Drayton then anchored the Team GB relay squad to bronze with a scintillating 49.60 split, which is also the third-fastest ever by a British woman.

Evidently riding on the crest of a wave, the three-time national champion had high hopes for potentially medalling again in South Korea, yet her performance was still a significant improvement on placing seventh in the semi-final in Berlin at the 2009 edition of the event.


Having just returned from a well-deserved holiday in Dubai, Shakes-Drayton is only a few months in to being a full-time athlete after finishing her degree at Brunel University in May, and she intends to use the extra free time to ensure 2012 goes fully to plan.

After narrowly missing out on selection for the 2008 Games in Beijing despite winning the UK Olympic trials, she is eager to toe the line on home turf next summer and make a big impact, to boot:

“The obvious goal is to firstly make the team for selection and once in the team, I need to focus on all aspects of my training, listen to what my coach is telling me and make sure I make that final – once there, anything can happen,” explained Shakes-Drayton.

“I love the competition (in the UK) so as long as we keep producing quality 400m and 400m hurdlers then it keeps us all on our toes!

“To be the best you need to compete against the best, week in, week out.”

Turn-er of Speed


Having sampled the sweet taste of global success this year, sprint hurdler Andy Turner admits to enjoying a constant reminder of his ultimate career goal when often driving past the Olympic stadium on his way to training in and around London ahead of the 2012 Games next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 31-year-old from Nottingham captured a surprise bronze medal in the 110m hurdles at the World Championships in Daegu back in August, swiftly establishing himself as an athlete to watch at the sporting spectacular next season, where – in his third Olympic appearance - he will attempt to sprint into the medals once more.

Guided by Lloyd Cowan at the Lee Valley high-performance centre, Turner offered an overview of his promising 2011 campaign:

“I ticked off everything I needed to do - I ran a PB and I won a World Championship medal so I have to look at it as a successful season,” he revealed.

Having originally placed fourth in the final with 13.44 in South Korea, the Sale Harriers Manchester athlete was upgraded to third after world record-holder Dayron Robles of Cuba was disqualified for a lane infringement – a belated decision which Turner has mixed emotions on:

“I was obviously happy to get the bronze but because I didn’t cross the line in third I didn’t get that emotion of knowing I’d got the medal so I was just satisfied with finishing fourth at the time but being upgraded was a huge bonus,” he explained.

“Daegu itself was a great experience as it’s always interesting to experience such different cultures - despite the food! - and the people were really nice.

“The championships themselves obviously had all sorts of controversy, but all in all, there was a good vibe in the village and I had fun. There was a good team spirit amongst the GB team which bodes really well for next year.”


A European and Commonwealth champion from the 2010 season, Turner endured an injury-plagued summer and so was relieved to register a fine 13.22 life-time best in June to go to third on the British all-time lists before taking his first ever global medal - which significantly improved on fifth place in the heats of the 2009 event in Berlin.

The father of two revealed:

“I had my Achilles problem early season which was a hindrance but I had injections to fix that although, with all the end of season racing I’ve done, it came back a bit.

“The injury didn’t prevent me starting well - I felt on point and I was running well and obviously was delighted with my PB.”

The seven-time national champion continued:

“The Achilles was a referral problem – the actual problem was the tendons underneath my feet which caused the Achilles to be tight. As a result I was running in pain all the time but had a subtalar cortisone injection which knocked out problem.

“I also tore my groin just before the UK Champs and World trials which left me with three or four weeks before the World Champs to recover - that meant ten days of no hurdling at a crucial time so preparation wasn’t ideal but I didn’t feel I lost anything which was the best thing, other than a bit of confidence over the hurdles.”


The World and British record-holder for the 200m hurdles, Turner has just returned to training after an end-of-season break and has jetted off to Florida with his family to continue an unusual set-up with one of his fiercest rivals.

Having created an unlikely friendship with reigning Olympic bronze-medalist David Oliver of the USA, Turner will be working with his squad for a three-month spell before tackling a few indoor races in the New Year.

“I probably won’t run at the World Indoor Championships, though,” the former Notts County FC youth player explained - “what with the focus naturally being on the outdoor season next year.”

After finishing last in his heat in Athens in 2004 and fifth at the quarter-final stage in Beijing four years ago, Turner is understandably determined to build on his recent success to finally clinch an Olympic medal.

“My aim for 2012 is to medal at the London Olympics,” he stated quite simply.

“It’s my third Olympics and I have to look at it as another Olympic Games as opposed to focusing too much on the fact they’re in London - I know what to expect and need to not get over-hyped with it and just keep focused. It’s obviously great to have it so close to home and the support will be unreal.

“We’ve got a few boys, four or five who can challenge for a spot in the team. The 110m hurdles itself is not one of the GB team’s strongest events but I really hope that my success can drive others on to achieve the same and more, in the same way that we’re beginning to see with Dai (Greene – world champion) in the 400m hurdles,” revealed Turner, who despite fighting away the pressure, must be visualizing himself atop of the podium on that daily commute to training.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Kenyan Dominance Highlights Great Half


Bupa Great North Run, Newcastle to South Shields, Sunday 18th September

Kenyan men enjoy 1-2-3, Kabuu a surprise runaway winner whilst Pavey and Clitheroe impress, WRITES NICOLA BAMFORD.

In the 31st edition of the annual 13.1-mile festival of distance-running, 54,000 runners made their way from Newcastle to South Shields in the popular event which boasts the title as the world’s best half-marathon in mainly dry, mild conditions.

With eye-catching times of 58:56 and 67:06, respectively, the two Kenyan victors in the elite races showcased dominant displays with a nine-second course record for Martin Mathathi and a surprising third-fastest time ever at the event for Lucy Kabuu.

The duo know each other well, having trained together over in Japan in the past and for Mathathi, the outstanding performance and 52-second lifetime best signalled a return to fresh legs since placing fifth in the recent World championships 10,000m final in Daegu.

For Kabuu meanwhile, her 2:21 winning-margin and 2:41 personal best emphasised her return to form after being off the radar for two years since giving birth to her daughter Angel 16-months ago.

Brave Kabuu Silences Critics, Strong Comeback for Pavey, Promising Debut for Clitheroe

A succession of relentlessly-fast five-minute-miling ensured Lucy Kabuu will be a name to look out for in the build-up to the Olympics next summer, as the precociously-talented Kenyan has her eye on 10,000m glory in London after destroying the elite women’s field in South Tyneside.

The 27-year-old only made the decision to compete a fortnight earlier yet her preparations with countrywomen World 5,000m and 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruyiot and Linet Masai evidently enabled her to perform in a different class against a stellar field.

The 2006 Commonwealth 10,000m champion conserved her energy in the initial miles, as Britain’s Jo Pavey, Helen Clitheroe and Freya Murray joined 2010 and 2009 winners Berhane Adere and Jessica Augusto in the leading pack.

Going through miles one to three in 5:16, 10:31 (5:15) and 15:36 (5:05)/5km (16:08), the twelve-strong group gradually dwindled down to eight, with Kabuu, Irene Jerotich and Adere now the main protagonists.

With Pavey and Clitheroe – the latter making her debut at the distance - 50-metres adrift, four-miles was reached by Kabuu in another fine 5:17 split (20:53), as Mara Yamauchi was evidently having an off-day, 100m further back from her fellow British duo.

Around the five-mile point – reached in 26:00 after an outstanding 5:07 mile from the leader – Kabuu stretched further on during a steep uphill stretch which left Adere and Augusto trailing, as Pavey worked alongside Jerotich back in fifth.

As mile six passed in 30:49 courtesy of a breathtaking 4:49 split, the 2008 Olympic 10,000 seventh-placer was enjoying a comfortable 200m lead, leading critics to question whether she would ‘hit the wall’ in the latter stages.

Reaching in the 10km point in 31:52 and going through miles seven and eight in 35:43 (4:54) and 40:43 (5:00), however, it was obvious that the crowds were witnessing a magnificent performance which would remain as consistent as her technique in the final stages.

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Ethiopian Adere, the former World half-marathon champion, was suffering as she quickly relinquished a handful of positions whilst Portugal’s Augusto and Marissa Barros remained strong.

One hundred metres back, Pavey and Clitheroe were working together in fourth and fifth, proving that they were over injury (foot, for the former) and the recent World 5,000m championship final.

Meanwhile, though, 38-year-old 2008 Olympic marathon sixth-placer Mara Yamauchi dropped out just after the eight-mile mark, perhaps still struggling to find her fitness since an ongoing hamstring injury kept her out of Daegu. The 2009 London marathon runner-up will however, still hope to chase the Olympic qualifying time in her former homeland Japan this coming November.

Scorching through nine and ten miles with 5:11 (45:54)/15km in 47:27 and 5:04 miles (50:58), Kabuu was still well clear of the chasers as Augusto – who was sporting a new tattoo of her late father’s name on her arm – and Barros held their positions from the British pair.

With eleven and twelve miles passed in 56:13 (5:15) and 61:30 (5:17)/20km 63:44 – the latter being the slowest since mile four – it appeared the Kabuu was finally beginning to tire but with no-one in sight along the coastline behind her, the diminutive African was still assured of her victory.

Sprinting to a 5:10 clocking through 13-miles (66:40), she rallied strongly in the final metres to enjoy her biggest road win to date in 67:06 as Augusto – the European cross-country champion - came through for second in 69:27 and Barros –
recently ninth in the World marathon - placing third with 70:29.

2008 third-placer Pavey enjoyed a solid run-out before the New York marathon in November by claiming fourth in a promising 70:49 while Clitheroe – the 37-year-old Preston Harrier and European indoor 3,000m champion – finished fifth in an encouraging 70:57, beating Commonwealth marathon champion Jerotich (71:03) only a day after placing second in the one-mile race for Team GB.

The third British finisher was Freya Murray, 28, in tenth with 72:44 on her debut at the distance, bounced back from injury to beat a tiring Adere (twelfth in 74:07).

A delighted winner explained afterwards:

“I’m very happy to win the race today. I left Japan to train in Kenya after having my baby girl Angel and I was confident I was going to win.”

“This is only my second half-marathon (first in 2003) so I’m happy learn the race - I decided the pace was too slow and I wasn’t scared of them catching me.”

“I enjoyed the race and hope to come here again. My plan is to win the 10,000m at the Olympics next year – Vivian is strong but so am I, I have confidence in myself.”

Already with the Olympic standard under her belt from the London marathon back in April, Exeter Harrier Pavey, 37, revealed:

“I’m pleased to be back racing after a frustrating injury but I would have liked to gone a bit quicker, though it puts me in good stead for New York.”

“The atmosphere was amazing - I really enjoyed it despite the lack of fitness and it was lovely to have Helen with me, she ran really well and helped me a lot.”

“I now need to get in a few more long runs and tempo work and also focus on my track kilometre reps. I’ll stay training between Devon and London as I have everything I need there and I’ll also get some physiological testing done prior to New York.”

An encouraged Clitheroe of Preston Harriers’ said:

“I really had no expectations today, especially having not trained specifically for it and having raced in the mile yesterday so I didn’t have a time in mind.”

“After a worrying patch at three miles for both Jo and I, we re-grouped and ran well together. I really enjoyed it – it was a lot more fun than I imagined - I felt like doing cartwheels down the finishing straight as I was so happy to see it.”

“I’ll next go to Kenya for altitude training in November then possibly do a road race or two around Christmas/New Year to see where I’m at. The indoor season is still under discussion but if I do, I won’t race much as the 5,000m is still my main aim for the summer.”

Clean-Sweep for Kenyans, Strong Debut for Gerrard

Martin Mathathi ripped up the rulebook by pushing London marathon winner Emmanuel Mutai into third place as the Kenyan trio – including runner-up Jonathan Maiyo – secured the first ever clean-sweep in the event’s history.

Following in the footsteps of his compatriots and past great victors such as Paul Tergat, John Mutai and Martin Lel – the latter who withdrew from the event mid-week citing illness – Mathathi crossed the finish-line thirty-one seconds clear of Maiyo (59:27) and Mutai (59:52) in an equally dominant display to Kabuu’s earlier run.

With World 5,000m champion Mo Farah – the previous day’s two-mile winner for Team GB – setting the runners off on their way, the first mile was reached in 4:32 with Morocco’s two-time world marathon champion Jaouad Gharib and Mutai to the fore, alongside Kenyans Commonwealth marathon gold-medallist John Kelai and 2008 Olympic 10,000m third-placer Micah Kogo.

Going through two-miles in 9:02 (4:30), Japan-based Mathathi – the world junior record-holder for ten-miles - led an eight-man pack and took them through the three-mile mark in 13:27 (4:25), the 5km point in 13:56 and four-mile in 18:00 (4:33).

Going through five-miles in 22:36, Kogo, Maiyo and Mathathi began to push on after a 4:36 mile which left Mutai and Gharib 10m adrift before Maiyo asserted his authority with a temporary ten-metre advantage.

Passing six-miles, 10km and seven-miles in 26:54 (4:18), 27:49 and 31:13 (4:19), respectively, it was Mathathi’s turn to pull clear, as he comfortably stretched out to a 100m lead with 4:24 (35:37), 4:35 (40:12), 4:29 (44:41) and 4:39 (49:20) mile splits through the eighth to eleventh mile marks.

Storming through twelve miles in 53:51 (4:31), it was evident the 25-year-old 2007 world 10,000m bronze-medallist was on course to break Zersanay Tadesse’s 59:05 course record and, sprinting down the final 200m after passing thirteen miles in 58:30 (4:39), Mathathi was rewarded with a big lifetime best in 58:56 and the sixth-fastest mark of all-time.

Better known as a marathon pacemaker, 23-year-old Maiyo improved on his third place from the 2007 Great South Run to finish runner-up in a 59:27 personal best from London marathon silver-medallist Mutai in 59:52.

Former world record-holder for ten-miles, Kogo finished in fourth with 60:43 from France’s Abdellatif Meft (61:02) and 2010 third-placer Gharib in sixth with 61:31.
Top British man was 25-year-old Keith Gerrard who on his debut for the distance, ran a very encouraging 63:39 to just sneak in the top ten.

The winner revealed afterwards:

“I was hoping to win as I did a lot of speed-work for Daegu - it was a nice course and I pulled clear around five miles – I could tell I was faster than the others by the way they were running.”

“I didn’t expect such a fast time but I like running on road and I now look forward to trying a marathon after the Olympics.”

“I feel honoured to break the course record and do my fastest ever time. The fans cheered me all the way and gave me motivation. Now I plan to beat my 10km personal record and try for the Olympic 10,000m.”

Maiyo explained:

“I was confident of winning and felt strong but Martin’s pace was too hard for me to keep with.”

“I was happy to have the people cheering for me, it’s a nice place and the organisation is good.”

Meanwhile, Mutai said:

“The race for me was quite different. After 5km, I had a stiff back, which was been troubling me for some time now so it slowed me down. I have had treatment on it this week but I still hoped my skill would help me to win.”

Gerrard, the Newham and Essex Beagles athlete – who has to train in Loughborough and London due to a lack of training partners back home on the Isle of Man - said afterwards:

“I’m happy as it was my first ever half and I haven’t raced much in the last few weeks so it’s a good start in the event for me.”

“I’m delighted to be the first Brit and tenth is pretty good. I felt strong and only had a stomach problem in the last two-miles so I managed to hold on.”

Other British men to break into the top twenty were Ian Hudspith (15th in 64:14),
Matt O’Dowd (17th in 64:32), John Beattie (18th in 64:50), Darren Deed (19th in 64:58) and Andy Vernon (20th in 65:45) the day after finishing eighth for Team GB in the two-mile race.

Woods Defends, Cassidy Wins with Weir Absent

Canadian Josh Cassidy built on his 2008 victory here by winning the men’s wheelchair race by almost a minute in 43:57.

The 26-year-old London marathon winner took advantage of the absence of four-time Great North winner David Weir, as the Briton withdrew two days before with a shoulder injury, also having become a father for the first time during the week.

Second place went to France’s 46-year-old Denis Lemuiner (44:48) and Sweden’s Aron Anderson, 23 finished in third with 47:07.

In the women’s race, three-time and reigning champion Shelly Woods, enjoyed a 2:30 winning-margin to take her fourth victory in 50:14.

The 25-year-old from Blackpool revealed afterwards:

“I hit the front early and that’s the first time I’ve ever been in that position so I went all out as I knew Amanda has a fast finish.”

In second place, the USA’s 2009 champion Amanda McGrory clocked 52:43 and last year's runner-up, Italy’s Francesca Porcellato, 41, finished in third place in 55:01.

Global Medal Quintet Lead USA Masterclass


Great North CityGames, Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside, Saturday 17th September

An outclassed Team GB suffered a 7-3 loss in the annual two-nation street match, WRITES NICOLA BAMFORD.

An American squad buoyed by two recently-crowned world champions, a silver medal-winning duo and a bronze-medallist from the World Championships in Daegu earlier this month, combined to make their CityGames debuts against a high-calibre yet mostly fatigued Great Britain and Northern Ireland outfit.

For a third consecutive year, the Newcastle-Gateshead quayside played host to a purpose-built track whilst the iconic Tyne and Millennium Bridges witnessed road and field competitions on and around them on a day which represented the last competitive appearance of the season for the majority.

After the England squads defeated the Australian’s in the last two editions, it was
Team GB’s chance to face the mighty United States in a match where World 5,000m champion Mo Farah, World 1,500m runner-up Hannah England and UK 100m silver-medallist Harry Aikines-Aryeetey gave the home team impressive victories to cheer for.

Jeter and Dix Supreme, UK Records for Onoura and Devonish

Sprint queen Carmelita Jeter shrugged off the effects from a scintillating 10.78 in the Brussels Diamond League the previous evening and the long journey to arrive at the event only four hours before to storm to a 16.50 unofficial World Record in the women’s 150m event.

The World 100m champion and second-fastest of all time in the discipline scorched away in the expected usual fashion to come home ahead of UK 200m champion Anyika Onoura, who in turn registered a 16.90 British record.

The American revealed afterwards:

“Running a 150m straightway was different but I enjoyed coming here and it was a great experience.

“I’m happy with my time yesterday and today so I hope the crowd enjoyed the performance I gave.”

Now with a six-week break to look forward to, the double 100m and 200m Diamond League series winner continued:

“I wanted to experience England before getting into training for 2012 and this was the icing on the cake of a great season for me.”

Liverpool’s 26-year-old Onoura, meanwhile, finished ahead of Commonwealth 200m runner-up Abi Oyepitan (16.96), with the USA’s Dawn Harper – in her second race of the day after taking the 100m hurdles in a 12.73 meeting record from team-mate Danielle Carruther’s (12.77) – finishing fourth with 17.19.

Following the world’s fourth-fastest ever 200m time of 19.53 in Brussels, another American – Walter Dix – dominated the men’s equivalent here with an eye-catching 14.65 display to miss triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt’s meeting record by just 0.3-seconds.

The recent World silver-medallist over both the 100m and 200m, Dix also pulled 35-year-old Marlon Devonish to beat his own British record with an impressive 14.87 run.

A potential party-pooper for the three-way Jamaican aim for next year’s Olympics,
Dix explained:

“That was a fun race after I got the serious one out of the way last night.

“Having the crowd so close was really enjoyable and also different from running in circles.

“I’m happy with the time after the PR last night but I thought I’d get the WR record today - I’m on an adrenaline rush after only two-hours’ sleep but last night showed I can mix it with Bolt and Blake next year.”

A delighted Devonish meanwhile, said:

“It went really well but there’s room for improvement.

“It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever had here and I really enjoyed it.

“Another British record is great and I’m extremely happy - to be so close to Walter
Dix puts me in good stead for next year, which will be my last.”

Stressful Prep But Mo Keeps His Cool

Enjoying a very warm reception in the billed ‘homecoming’ race since capturing his first global title and 10,000m silver in South Korea, Farah brushed off being taken to the wrong start-line and an unavailable toilet stop to scorch to a comfortable five-second victory in the men’s two-mile race.

A day before official starting duties in the Bupa Great North Run, the 28-year-old Oregon-based runner added to his 2006 and 2008 glories here and admitted to being inspired by his training partner Galen Rupp’s 26:48 American record in Brussels the night before.

Guided by Alberto Salazar, Farah turned down the opportunity to race in Belgium himself where he would have been set to potentially win the Diamond League series and $40,000 but true to his words and indeed his roots, he decided to dazzle the north-west crowds in return for their support during a magical year.

“I really enjoyed the reception I was given here and I really enjoyed it,” Farah explained.

“I love competing here and it was awesome to have so many people cheering for me.

“My legs felt alright but my chest was burning a bit as I eased back on the training recently but I had enough in me to do well this weekend.”

The 8:37.72 winning time preceded the USA’S Brian Ollinger in second place with 8:42.15 and 21-year-old steeplechase specialist James Wilkinson clocking 8:49.12 for sixth was the next best of the Brits.

Richardson and Lagat Live Up to Expectations

With four of the top five men from Daegu, the men’s 110m hurdles was always going to be a thrilling show and world champion Jason Richardson led an American 1-2 to prove winning is now his favourite thing to do.

Crossing the line in 13.16, Richardson obliterated the CityGames record and again beat Olympic bronze-medallist David Oliver (13.36), who was only fourth in South Korea.

The winner revealed afterwards:

“My race went well after getting over the distractions with the helicopter in this city environment but I got a good start and executed well.

“It was an amazing experience for my first street race and Daegu was the perfect storm in my case – I wish it was run under cleaner circumstances but I did the best I could.”

Running through the pain barrier courtesy of an ongoing hamstring injury, William Sharman finally got the better of Andy Turner in a fierce battle of the Brits here, clocking 13.82 to the world bronze-medallist’s 14.08 - Turner, having appeared to have paid the price for several races on the continent in the past week.

An athlete who barely disappoints – American distance-running legend Bernard Lagat – avoided a mouth-watering clash with Farah by contesting the one-mile event but still managed to wow the crowds with a dominant 4:06.01 winning-display.

Britain’s Andrew Osagie stepped up in distance after reaching the 800m semi-final stage in Daegu to place a fine third in 4:09.53, ahead of team-mates Bruce Raeside and Luke Gunn (4:10.23 and 4:12.78) in fourth and fifth, respectively.

The victor explained:

“It (the event) was really fun, I really enjoyed my run and it was really unique – I’ve never done anything like this in so many years.”

Next competing in the Fifth Avenue road mile in New York this weekend, Lagat continued:

“It is so nice and the sport needs this kind of exposure. It was also good to run well and win.”

Osagie, the 23-year-old UK champion, meanwhile, revealed:

“It was a decent result for me, coming from an 800m background.

“The pace wasn’t too bad and I felt strong throughout but it was just a bit too quick for me today.

“It was great racing Lagat, he took the pace on and was another class - I joked with him to keep it slow so I’d have a chance.”

Deja-vu for England, Victory for Harry AA, Disappointment for Dwight

Surprise runner-up over the metric mile at the World’s, Hannah England enjoyed a more expected victory here, as she replicated her 2010 win here with a 4:39.49 one-mile clocking over European 3,000m indoor champion Helen Clitheroe of Preston Harriers (4:40.65).

After running 4:02.07 to just miss her lifetime best when finishing fifth in Brussels just hours earlier, England sprinted past her British team-mate, who at 37, is thirteen years her senior and also who competed in the Bupa Great North Run the following day – in the closing stages to end her season on a high.

Afterwards, the winner divulged:

“I love this event – it means a lot to me and it’s my third time here and third win
so I’m really happy.

“I was injured for the beginning of the season so I just thought I’d do the two races back to back. It was good to feel strong at the end and after last night and arriving here this morning, I was really pleased with that.”

Perhaps fatigued after capturing the Diamond League series title in recent days, World 800m indoor silver-medallist Jenny Meadows finished back in fourth with 4:44.9.

Less than 24-hours after competing in the race in which Usain Bolt set a world-leading 9.76, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey bounced back from Daegu relay disappointment to take the 100m event here.

Sprinting to a 10.27 victory after registering 10.14 the previous evening, the 23-year-old UK runner-up got the better of his British counterpart European 200m silver-
medallist Christian Malcolm (10.45).

Explaining his thoughts on the race, the winner said:

“It was a cool race and I managed to do the job for GB despite the travel and lack of sleep last night.

“It’s such a great event - we need more of these at the beginning and end of the season – I wouldn’t mind coming here for this every week.”

Four-time and recent world long-jump champion Dwight Phillips of the USA suffered from a major off-day after registering three no-jumps and landing a best of only 5.01m.

American Jeremey Hicks took advantage to win with 7.84m in the first round from Newham and Essex Beagle’s JJ Jegede (7.72m) and Ezekiel Ewulo (7.51).

UK record-holder and European under23 champion Holly Bleasdale also had a bad day at the office as she was forced to compete without her own poles in the pole-vault competition.

With her equipment still to be retrieved from Heathrow airport after landing there from Daegu a fortnight ago, the 19-year-old Blackburn Harrier was evidently disadvantaged and managed only 4.12m after three misses at 4.27m to finish runner-up behind American Becky Holliday (4.27m).

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Patience Pays for Jackson


Having spent much of the summer trying to crack the magical two-minute barrier, 800m runner Emma Jackson recently got her wish as well as a spot in the World Championships to boot, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 23-year-old City of Stoke AC athlete is enjoying a stellar outdoor campaign in which she has improved on her 2010 2:00.46 best on three occasions, culminating in her breakthrough 1:59.9 clocking in London earlier this month.

There, at the Aviva British Grand Prix and Diamond League event, Jackson finished a fine fifth in a world-class field and subsequently leapt to third on the British rankings for the season – all pointing towards a promising global debut in a fortnight’s time.

Coached by Alan Morris, Jackson explained:

“I’m over the moon with my season so far - it’s my first year as a full-time athlete and I’m amazed how much difference it has made already.

“I amazed myself in my first race of the season at the end of May (in Holland) when I ran a PB of just over two-minutes,” she continued.

“Since then I’ve just been trying to find good races to get me under that barrier so I had to have a month of training and try and stay patient!

“When the races did come back around in July, I was still left frustrated because I was running really well but in slow, tactical races or I wasn’t quite getting the pacing right.

“However, I know that there is even more to come from Crystal Palace - the first lap was still faster than I would have liked!”


Based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, the 2007 European junior silver-medallist has additionally sped to 55.3 and 4:12.42 400m and 1500m lifetime bests this summer – the latter an improvement of almost three seconds.

Following UK silver behind 2009 World bronze-medallist Jenny Meadows in the World trials in Birmingham last month, Jackson is enjoying a substantial amount more luck than in her 2010 campaign.

Then, the two-lap specialist missed the championship podium on no less than four occasions - coming fourth each time including at the European Team Championships and the Commonwealth Games in India last October.

Mentored by 2004 double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, Jackson is determined to continue her run a good form in Daegu, South Korea where the World Championships are held later this month:

“It’s my first senior (international championship) competition so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the top athletes prepare themselves for a major games and I’ll have to see if I can pick up any tips!” she revealed.

“My aim for Daegu is to try and get to the semi-finals at the very least - as long as I run well and do myself justice, then I know I’ll be happy.

“It keeps dawning on me that it’s the World champs, it doesn’t get any harder than this! It’s quite scary but in a really good way.

“I can’t wait to see what I can do against the very best - I’m hoping to go even further under two-minutes out there but I don’t want to focus on the time too much, it’s more important that I race the races sensibly - the time will come if it’s a good race.”


In a hugely competitive event for British women, Jackson is aware of how such strong domestic rivalry could push her to a memorable performance ahead of her bigger goal, the Olympic Games in London next summer:

“In reality, I probably wouldn’t even be going to Daegu if all of our girls were at their best but you have to take the chances you are given and I’m hoping that I can use the Worlds to gain invaluable experience for the future,” she explained.

“2012 is still a massive aim for me - I still need to keep improving if I want to go.

“I think I can get even better with another strong winter under my belt and in the long-term, I hope to make more of an impact at the 1500m – I really hope to make lots of championship finals and be going for medals as I get older.”

Breaking Barriers


Jack Green is a young man who thrives off challenges and this summer, the 400m hurdler has leapt over both the age and time gap to world-class level as he looks to a place in the Olympic final next year, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 19-year-old Kent AC runner refuses to let his young years and relative inexperience in the event hold him back from global glory - a fact highlighted by his recent inclusion in the Team GB squad for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this month, where Green will make his senior championship debut.

Guided by hurdles guru Malcolm Arnold and training alongside European and Commonwealth champion Dai Greene, the athlete with the most untapped potential in the Bath-based squad is keen to establish himself in the biggest event of a thus far, remarkable season:

“The World Championships are where I plan on putting a spanner in the works against the more experienced heads,” he explained.

“Obviously I am very happy with how everything has gone this year but I still expect more of myself.

“My performances this year have been very consistent and everyone knows consistency leads to dropping a very quick time - I'm hoping that will arrive when I need it to.”


Green is of course, referring to such achievements as improving his outdoor best by a second and a half to a scintillating 48.98, mixing it with the best senior competition at two Diamond League events and claiming the European under23 Championship title in storming fashion.

Having spent periods of the winter and spring training in South Africa and Italy, respectively, Green indeed got his 2011 campaign off to a sterling start.

First, he shattered his 400m flat lifetime best on six occasions (with a best of 46.91) before finishing fourth in the same event at the UK senior Championships during the indoor season.

A student of Sports Performance at Bath University, Green then went onto put such theory into practice on the outdoor track by claiming victory at the Loughborough International, finishing second in British under23 Championships behind close-rival Nathan Woodward and then placed a fine fourth in the Lausanne leg of the Diamond League before capturing continental gold in Ostrava.

Riding on the crest of a wave in only his fifth season in the discipline, Green then
went onto clock his first sub-50 second performance at the Aviva British Grand Prix in Birmingham, where he again finished in a highly-respectable fourth against world-class field to elevate him to third on the UK rankings for the summer thus far and ahead of European silver-medallist Rhys Williams.

“Ostrava was a typical championship, I went to win,” Green revealed.

“I really feel we (Brits) are becoming like the Americans in the 400m hurdles - we are going to have people staying at home with the qualifying standard for the major competitions – it's not overly fair but it only makes you stronger.

“I've said it before but all of us have a lot to thank Dai and Rhys for - I believe because of their successes in 2010, they gave all of us the belief to run quicker.

“I remember when breaking fifty seconds was a big deal, now you have to be a 48-runner at least to feature!”


Having recently missed the UK Championships and also the Aviva London Grand Prix with tonsillitis, Green is confident of getting back to his best in time for Deagu as he sets off to the Team GB preparation camp in South Korea next week:

“The illness has become a blessing in disguise as it's allowed me to rest after the European Under23’s and train hard without having to taper for racing, so I should be ready to go in the 400m hurdles and I will be ready to run the relay,” he explained.

Fifth in the World junior Championships in Canada last summer in 50.49 to place third on the UK all-time under20 list, Green will join his namesake (Dai) and also Woodward in the competition, where he additionally hopes to feature in at least the first-round heat of the 4x400m relay.

All in all, regardless of his performances in Daegu, Green will be using the event as vital experience for an even tougher short-term aim, the Olympic Games in London next summer:

“I will evaluate my aims at the end of this season but ideally I will be in that Olympic final,” he revealed.

“But 2012's just another competition to me and I will keep that mentality the whole way through.

“The crowd and competition will be great and I have no doubts London will put on a great show but I will be there to do a job and entertain a crowd - I see myself as a performer and I want to do my best for the fans and supporters.”

Monday, 1 August 2011

Osagie’s Debut Senior Title Highlights OCWK results on Day Three of Aviva UK Champs and World Trials


Day three results:

Andrew Osagie’s commanding 800m victory and Emma Jackson’s close battle with Jenny Meadows to clinch two-lap silver were the key performances from seven OCWK athletes in finals on the third and final day of the championships in Alexander Stadium, Birmingham.

Men's 800m final:

Andrew Osagie proved his recent 1:45.63 lifetime best was a strong indicator of his championship form by dominating the event and pulling away in the final metres from reigning champion Michael Rimmer to win by almost a second in 1:46.84.

The 23-year-old Harlow AC runner – who was fourth in the European indoor Championships back in March – settled into third position from the offset before scorching into the lead at the bell with a 53.70 final lap.

Guided by Craig Winrow, a delighted Andrew revealed after clinching his first senior outdoor national title:

“The race went to plan and I was pleased to push on so well on the home straight.

“I’m on cloud nine and I’d really like to get the time for the World’s (at Crystal Palace) next weekend.

“I’ve already got the ‘B’ standard and I’m really enjoying training and my racing so much right now”

Women's 800m final:

Commonwealth fourth-placer Emma Jackson gave World bronze-medallist Jenny Meadows a run for her money in the final 100m to finish a narrow second in 2:02.48.

The 23-year-old City of Stoke AC athlete – who was fourth in this race last year and recently third in the Aviva British Grand Prix – stayed out of trouble at the back of the field until the bell, where she then unleashed a scintillating change of gear to jolt into third position.

Coached by Alan Morris, the 2:00.24 runner moved into equal first on the back straight and surged again with Meadows in the final furlong to only just miss out on her first senior national title.

Emma revealed afterwards:

“It was slower than I thought at first so I was shocked but held my nerve and made my move well. I’m hoping to make Daegu by getting the ‘A’ standard next weekend at Crystal Palace.”

Crawley’s 26-year-old Charlotte Best was disappointed to finish seventh in 2:05.75 after a below-par season so far.

The George Gandy-coached runner – who exited in the semi’s last year – explained:

“It didn’t go well – my legs felt awful and couldn’t get into a good position.

“I’ve had a few weeks away from training this year but still hoped for better - I’ve got Crystal Palace on Friday and then (the World University Games in) China so I hope to run well there.”

Men's 1500m final:

Future Stars with Kelly athlete Phillip Hurst finished an encouraging fifth in 3:44.14 after conserving his energy at the rear of the pack for much of the race.

The 20-year-old Elswick Harrier moved up into seventh position with 300m remaining and kicked strongly down the home-straight to enjoy a promising senior championship debut.

The Martin Crowe-guided runner finished just short of his 3:43.35 recent personal best and finished three-tenths ahead of Birchfield’s 23-year-old Mark Mitchell, who placed eighth in 3:44.44.

Mark, whose time was a new lifetime best, said afterwards:
“I’m quite pleased and moved through quite well. It was just really good to get through to the final and to also get a PB.”

Meanwhile, Kris Gauson of Edinburgh AC finished tenth in 3:46.76 and James Brewer languished in twelfth in 3:50.68.

The self-coached Kris, 23, explained afterwards:

“It was a bit disappointing after I ran so hard but it’s my first season as a senior and I’ve been racing since early January in the American season so now I’m going to freshen up and focus on the World University Champs (in China next month).”

Cheltenham’s 23-year-old James – who was in fourth position for the first two laps then seventh at the bell – was bitterly disappointed with his performance but has only been back running since April after suffering from a stress-fracture.

The Craig Winrow-coached runner (with a best of 3:42.38) revealed:

“It was rubbish, I just didn’t have anything to go on the last lap and it’s been a slow season anyway, coming back from the stress fracture but I’m really happy to be racing at least and I hope for top-two next year.

Hannah’s Breathtaking Defence Highlights OCWK Presence at UK Champs and World Trials


Day one and two report:

Hannah England produced a super cool performance in sweltering conditions at the Aviva UK Championships and World trials this evening to retain her 1500m crown in scintillating style.

Elsewhere in the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham – after two sessions of the three-day competition – an impressive twelve OCWK athletes either featured or progressed to finals in their specialist events.

Women's 1500m:

Day three (Saturday) final results:

Proving herself to be a World Championship final contender for the global event in Daegu, South Korea in a months’ time, Hannah won an eye-catching sprint finish battle with 2009 World silver-medallist Lisa Dobriskey, clocking 4:07.05 to her elder rival’s 4:07.23.

The 24-year-old Oxford City AC runner – in only her sixth race of the season – ran a sensible metric mile, holding back from early and long-time leader Stacey Smith until the bell.

Guided by Bud Baldaro in Birmingham, Hannah recently ran a world-class 4:01.89 PB in Barcelona to re-establish her international credentials and after a 47.08 final 300m, she revealed:

“It was fantastic after training for this all winter - things have really turned around for me in the past couple of weeks and I’m totally surprised despite training really hard.”

Having also finished second in heat two in 4:21.88 the previous day, Hannah continued:

“After the Achilles injury holding me back, I know I haven’t peaked yet so I’m positive of doing really well and hopefully making the final in Daegu.”

Gateshead Harrier Stacey, 21, had a ten-metre lead from the gun, passed 400m in a swift 63.10 and enjoyed a fifteen-metre advantage at the 900m mark (after hitting 800m in 2:11.81 following a 68.71 lap) but paid the prize for her over-zealous pacing as she drifted back in the final 200m to finish only fourth after being passed by Barbara Parker (4: 12.19 to Stacey’s 4:13.47).

The Mick Woods-coached runner – who was only ninth in this race last year - explained:

“I just didn’t want it to be a slow-run race and I tried my hardest.”

Having placed third in heat one in 4:18.27 the day before, the European under23 Championship seventh-place finisher continued:

“I died a bit near the end but at least I made it a true-run race and now I’d really like to get the ‘A’ standard for the World’s or at least go to China for the World Student Games next month.”

Vale Royal AC’s Stevie Stockton was pleased to finish fifth in 4:15.71 after placing twelfth last year and finishing third in the European under23 5,000m Championship earlier this month.

The 21-year-old George Gandy-coached runner positioned herself in tenth place for much of the race before strongly surging through the pack on the final lap.

“It went alright as I’ve not had many opportunities to race over 1500m this year.”

Having won the second heat in 4:21.76, she continued:

“I had a cold last week and I felt quite lethargic but I held it together quite well and I’m really happy to finish fifth.”

Havering Mayesbrook’s 27-year-old Faye Fullerton finished in seventh with 4:22.31 after an injury-ravaged winter and summer.

Racing in around fourth position for the first half of the race, the Mick Woods-guided runner improved on tenth from the 2010 event and said afterwards:

“After an Achilles injury in the winter, then a back problem and a torn calf recently, I was glad to be in the final.”

Having placed fourth in heat two in 4:22.63, she continued:

“I’m just going to get my base sorted to hopefully have a strong winter to do well next year.”

Gemma Kersey enjoyed an encouraging senior championship debut when placing eighth in 4:22.66 after holding up the rear of the pack for much of the race.

The 19-year-old Basildon runner, who is coached by Eamonn Martin, scorched to an impressive 4:20.44 personal best in her heat and qualified for the final as a fastest loser.

A delighted Gemma explained afterwards:

“I’m really pleased to get to the final and run a PB yesterday. To back it up with a 4:22 shows I’m definitely in form but I want to gain on this experience next year.”

In the women’s 400m B final, Shelayna Oskan finished a fine third with a solid 54.21 clocking on day two (Saturday) of the competition.

The 21-year-old Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow athlete led the field with 200m remaining but was passed down the home-straight by Mica Nottingham (53.85) and Gemma Nicol (53.91).

Guided by Ayo Falola, Oskan – who set a 53.61 PB when finishing runner-up in the English Championships earlier this month – ran 54.32 to finish fourth in heat one the previous day.

Women’s 800m:

Day one (Friday) heat results:

Emma Jackson led the way by winning heat three in a comfortable 2:09.35 to progress to Saturday evening’s semi-final stage.

Charlotte Best was another to progress with ease when placing runner-up in heat two in 2:08.43 whilst Tara Bird finished in second place in heat four with a 2:08.46 clocking.

Leigh Lennon continued the impressive number of OCWK athletes to impress when placing third in heat four with 2:09.64 and Rachael Thompson finished in the same position in heat three with 2:09.88.

Qualifying for the two-lap semi-finals as a fastest loser, Ejiro Okoro finished sixth in heat one in 2:10.27.

Of those unlucky to reach the next stage of the competition, Carolyn Plateau was the most unfortunate when placing a credible fourth in heat three with a 2:10.86 clocking, whilst Dani Christmas – in her first race of the season and on the comeback from injury - finished only fifth in heat four in 2:11.07.

Lucy Dowsett’s curious below-par form continued as she had to settle for fifth position in heat two in 2:11.16.

Day two (Saturday) semi-final results:

Emma Jackson continued her dominance with a swift semi-final two victory in 2:03.12.

Charlotte Best also progressed to tomorrow evening’s final when finishing third in semi-final one with a 2:04.02 clocking.

Just missing out on a place in the final by three-tenths of a second, Tara Bird finished fourth in semi-final one with 2:05.44.

Others to have their participation in the event curtailed were Leigh Lennon, who was sixth in semi-final one with 2:08.64, Rachael Thompson, who finished eighth in semi-final two in 2:10.30 and Ejiro Okoro who placed eighth in semi-final one in 2:11.60.

Men’s 800m:

Day one (Friday) heats results:

Andrew Osagie took control to win heat five with ease in 1:51.53 and Ed Aston finished third in heat one in 1:53.79.

Also progressing to the semi-final stage on Saturday afternoon was Chris Smith who placed fourth in heat one in 1:53.83.

Day two (Saturday) semi-final results:

Andrew Osagie asserted his intention to win the UK title tomorrow evening by taking heat two by the scruff of the neck from the outset to win in 1:48.26.

Ed Aston and Chris Smith, meanwhile, failed to further progress when placing third and sixth in heat one, with 1:49.36 and 1:50.69 respectively.

Men’s 1500m:

Day two (Saturday) heats results:

Mark Mitchell took the victory in heat one with a 3:47.27 clocking, whilst Kris Gauson and Phillip Hurst finished in second and third in heat three and two in times of 3:44.50 and 3:44.90, respectively to all qualify for tomorrow evening’s final.

James Brewer, meanwhile, qualified as a fastest loser after finishing fourth in heat two in 3:45.40.

Of those to miss out on progressing were David Forrester, who placed seventh in heat two in 3:46.95 and Robbie Farnham-Rose, who finished tenth in heat one with 3:57.60.

Day three finals tomorrow evening: women’s 800m, men’s 800m, women’s 1500m, men’s 1500m, women’s 5,000m and men’s 5,000m.