Monday, 30 May 2011

Reinventing Helen


After spending years outside of the international medals as a middle-distance runner, Helen Clitheroe has successfully reinvented herself as 2012 Olympic hopeful after increasing the miles, writes Nicola Bamford.

Many predicted the 37-year-old from Preston would possibly retire from competition before the London Games next summer, given her age and ongoing frustration of missing the podium, but after swapping to the long-distance events, Clitheroe has enjoyed unprecedented success.

Guided by John Nuttall, the Lancashire athlete has switched the direction of her athletic career since winning the European 3,000m indoor title in Paris in March by training up to ninety miles per week and tackling races up to three times longer than her former specialism.

The latest achievement in Clitheroe’s new chapter was an overwhelming victory in the Bupa Great Manchester Run over 10km on road last weekend, where the British 3,000m steeplechase record-holder stormed to glory in a lifetime-best of 31:45 against a top-class international field.

Launching straight into the lead and showcasing impressive displays of gutsy front-running and even-pacing, Clitheroe smashed her 2008 best by thirty seconds and said afterwards:

“I was really interested to see how fast I could run and use it as a springboard for the track season so it’s hopefully a step in the right direction.

“Today makes me wonder why I didn’t start doing the longer distances in the past! I’m really enjoying the training for it and today was brilliant - I’m absolutely thrilled and think I can go even quicker.”

Having enjoyed a month-long training stint at altitude in Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees, Clitheroe revealed that the 2012 Olympics is the main impetus in her taking one last shot at the big time:

“Some people tend to move up in distances as they get older and I still think I can run a fast 1500m but I just felt that running the longer distances would give me a better opportunity to make the team for 2012 and be competitive.

“Going to the home Olympics at my age would be fantastic but it will be very competitive -for the last few years, I’ve felt that everything’s a bonus so I’m being realistic and taking it day by day.”

Having spent much of her career without funding from the sport, Clitheroe admits life has been tough but a steely determination to succeed against the odds has
driven her onwards:

“I suppose for the last seven or eight years, I’ve thought as long as I want to run and can justify it, I’ve felt like I should continue but always on my terms,” she explained.


The holder of seven veteran-35 British records no less, Clitheroe can boast personal bests of 4:01.10 for 1500m (from 2002), 8:39.81 for 3,000m indoors (from earlier this year) and 9:29.14 for the steeplechase (from 2008) in a jam-packed sporting CV.

Ranked third and fourth, respectively on the national all-time lists for the 1500m and 3,000m indoors, she has captured an impressive four British 1500m and four steeplechase titles dating back almost ten years and represented her country at eight straight World and five European cross-country championships to demonstrate her versatility.

In 2010, the former personal trainer placed seventh in the World indoor 1500m final and finished fourth and eighth in the steeplechase and 1500m at the Commonwealth Games but overall, was disappointed with the season which became another catalyst for change:

“Last summer was a real disappointment to be honest - with my foot injury in May, I lost confidence in the steeplechase and was in rubbish shape,” Clitheroe revealed.

“But I think it was more of a mental problem, as the week after I ran my personal worst for the ‘chase, I ran the qualifying time for the Commonwealth’s 1500m which saved me by going back to what I used to do and getting the love back so after Delhi, I decided to try for the longer distances.

“We never really intended to target the indoor season but after running the 3,000m time, I thought the Euro indoors would be interesting how I can do, especially off the training I’ve been doing - and to win my first medal and also win in Paris was a dream come true.”

Victory in the French capital was all the more sweet following two previous fourth-place finishes in the 2005 and 2007 editions and the next biggest goal is the World championships in Daegu, South Korea in August.

Yet to decide whether to compete over 5,000m or 10,000m, Clitheroe will hope to make her sixth appearance at the global outdoor event and improve on her highest-place finish of tenth (in the 1500m in 2005).

“I hope to be selected for the 5,000m in Daegu if I get the qualifying time and do well in the trials,” she explained.

Hoping to compete in the European Cup 10,000m in Oslo, Norway next month, Clitheroe has aspirations of competing in either event in London, too:

“My target’s to see how I can do doing 10,000m on the track for the first time, which is quite scary for someone who used to be a 1500m runner.

“I’m using this year as a test year for the new distances and training with a view to what I want to achieve in 2012.”

Having finished ninth and sixth in her heat of the steeplechase in Beijing and
Berlin in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Clitheroe is keen to finally make an impact in a global final:

“I’ve got to run under 15:15 for Daegu and the Olympics. I’m taking it one step at a time but getting to the final in my first year in the event would be a dream.”

And as this plucky runner has recently found, if you persevere for long enough, dreams sometimes do come true.

Pushing the Limits


Constantly playing second fiddle is a tough enough pill to swallow but Tyson Gay has had to endure an even bigger occupational hazard to being the World’s second-fastest man over the past three seasons – his health, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 28-year-old American can boast mind-blowing 9.69 and 19.58 100m and 200m times, respectively but still finds himself overshadowed by sprint phenomenon Usain Bolt both on and off the track.

To make matters worse, in his ongoing quest to finally topple his great Jamaican rival in the speed stakes, Gay has admitted that the greatest obstacle he has to overcome is in fact his body – put simply, he is running too fast for it to cope.

The quiet, unassuming Kentuckian explained:

“I’ve been seeing some doctors to see how things are and to test where I’m at so I have no expectations (for the summer) yet.

“The pressure to always run fast puts a lot of pressure on the body to deal with and to recover and do it again and again.

“After running so fast last year, it took so much longer to recover – it’s no longer a case of ice-baths and massage, the body needs to just rest so I can’t race that often.

“I don’t want to be scared so I can’t not run as I need to know where I’m at. I haven’t been fully fit since 2007 and then Bolt came along.”

It is a catch-22 situation – rest the long-term hip injury or continue to race and hope for the best, both of which pose a significant risk to improving both his form and chances for glory in the London Olympics next summer.


Guided by Lance Brauman, the 2007 World 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay champion kicked off his 2011 campaign on a specially-laid track on the streets of Manchester last weekend in the Bupa Great CityGames, where he scorched to a 14.51 150m clocking and resounding victory.

Although he fell short of eclipsing triple Olympic champion Bolt’s 14.35 world-best from the 2009 event, Gay announced himself content to leave the track without too much discomfort:

“I was a bit sore but felt pretty good - I came through 100m in 9.91 so I’m where everyone else in the world is right now,” he revealed.

“It was nice to feel comfortable and not feel the pressure here - I wish I could have done the first 100m a bit faster but I’m satisfied.

“I pushed my body as far as it wanted to go today, I’ll see a doctor after an MRI scan this week to get a second opinion as I just want to stay healthy – I’m looking forward to the (World) trials and the World’s.”

The global championship in question is in Daegu, South Korea this coming August and the event will mark an opportunity for Gay to take revenge on Bolt for beating him into the runner-up position in Berlin two years before.

Having become the first man to finish ahead of the 100m and 200m World record-holder since his exploits at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Stockholm last summer – albeit when he was returning from injury himself – Gay now has added confidence in knowing that his toughest competitor is indeed beatable after all.


It is unlikely that the pair will meet before Daegu and Gay is eager to insist that the lack of pre-championship match ups is not a pre-meditated decision despite reports to the contrary:

“I never duck any competition especially Bolt, people never know what’s going on behind the scenes with injuries etc and I would never say he’s ducking me,” he explained.

“It’s a good thing to race him and I wish I were healthy more often as we bring out the best in each other.”

On the constant comparison and talk of his younger counterpart, he continued:

“It’s ok because if it wasn’t mentioned, then I’m not doing something right – and only the pure joy of track and field gets me out of bed.”

With athletics based lower down the pecking order in American sport, even being the World number-two can-not ensure celebrity status:

“I definitely get more recognised over here (in the UK) - if I give a talk in a school, they’d probably have to introduce me to explain who I am.”

Next taking to the track at the Diamond League event in New York on June eleventh, Gay knows his reputation would be salvaged should he return to World champion status later this summer:

“I want victories and fast times for 2011 - this year, I’m focussing on the 100m but will still do a couple of 200m’s and hope to double next year (in London),” he revealed.

“It might take close to the world-record to get the gold in Daegu and I honestly think I can run 9.5 – maybe I’m crazy but I have to try.”

Longer-term, Gay is desperate to grasp that elusive Olympic gold medal and to gain redemption for his injury-hit performances in Beijing, where he failed to make the 100m final and dropped the baton in the 4x100m relay:

“I think about London a lot. The trials will be tough and I want to redeem myself and stay healthy,” he explained.

“There’s still a hole there that needs to be filled up. I need to get healthy and work on some technical issues first, though.”

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Pallant runs Euro u23 qualifier, Smith makes amends


On a cool, blustery evening at Manchester’s SportCity, two-dozen ‘On Camp with Kelly’ athletes took to the track for the opening BMC Grand Prix fixture on Saturday 28 May.

Leading the way by storming to a 15:54.40 lifetime best and European under23 championship qualifier, Emma Pallant (Aldershot Farnham and District) finished fifth in a highly-competitive 5,000m race, where the top eight all dipped under 16-minutes and her younger club-mate Emelia Gorecka took the victory.

The 21-year narrowly improved on her 15:55.18 best from the 2010 season and will
look ahead to the continental event in Ostrava this coming July with confidence.

“I didn’t feel the best but just got on with it and got the qualifying time,”
Pallant explained and she will next compete in the Watford BMC Grand Prix in a fortnight.

Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook) meanwhile, made her debut in the event and placed 10th in 16:30.19 and Louise Small (AFD) withdrew part way through the race.

Turning 27 on Tuesday this week, Fullerton revealed:

“Unfortunately, it was a bad day in the office but hopefully I can pick myself up and get back up there. Injuries are fine but I needed a kick up the backside to get more training in.”

In the women's ‘A’ 1,500m, Stacey Smith (Gateshead Harriers) made up for a disappointing performance in the ‘A’ 800m earlier in the evening by placing runner-up in 4:14.22 in a hard-fought battle with Jessica Judd, who ran a UK U17 all-time best with 4:14.21.

The 21-year-old Smith passed Judd down the home straight but had to eventually concede defeat to her younger rival and said afterwards:

“It was tough as I ran the 800m 90 minutes before - I decided to run as the 800m was a wasted race because of how slow it was so I didn’t want to waste my day.

“I didn’t cool down or really warm-up for this as well but it was alright and I’m glad I did the 1,500m and cracked on rather than sulk about the night.”

In third place, Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal AC) fell just short of her 4:14.11 personal best from last season with 4:14.58 and Jordan Kinney (Royal Sutton Coldfield) finished in 11th with 4:24.31.

Stockton, 21, almost gained the qualifying time for Ostrava and explained:

“I was a bit annoyed with us going through the first lap in 70 seconds, which was too slow so I started panicking but I came through strongly.”

She will next make her 5,000m debut on the track in Watford and Kinney, too, will compete there but over the shorter 1,500m event:

“I didn’t feel great and wasn’t very relaxed as it was a bit hustly and bustly but to be honest my pacing was fine and there’s a lot to improve on,” the 21-year-old revealed.

“I’ll take that as a first run out but hope to get a better run in Watford.”

In the women’s ‘B’ 1,500m, 21-year-old Lucy Dowsett (Cambridge and Coleridge AC) placed fourth in 4:25.87 and said:

“That was quite good and it was a good competitive race so I’m quite pleased.

“I’ll next run the 800m in Watford, as it’s my favourite event and I’m looking forward to it.”

In the aforementioned women’s ‘A’ 800m, Smith finished second behind Edinburgh’s Lynsey Sharp in a slow 2:06.61.

In a tactical race where no athlete would take charge of the pace, Charlotte Best
(Crawley AC) placed fourth in 2:06.95, Tara Bird (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) finished sixth in 2:07.17 and Vicky Griffiths (Liverpool Harriers) came home in eighth in 2:10.18. Alison Leonard (Blackburn Harriers), meanwhile, pulled out of the race part-way through citing an ongoing foot injury as the cause.

Smith, who will next compete over 1,500m in Spain this week, said afterwards:

“It was horrible, it was so slow and I don’t know what happened.

“My position wasn’t too bad but I just thought it was going to be faster.”

Bird, who contests the Inter-Counties Championship 400m on Monday, echoed her thoughts:

“It was a bit disappointing as it was so slow and no-one wanted to take the pace as it was so windy but we should have tried to.

“The conditions were rubbish but it was fun to have a competitive race despite the slow time.”

Best meanwhile, was frustrated to miss an opportunity in her first event of the year after having only completed seven weeks of training recently since injury:

“It was my first race of the season so I just wanted to get dragged round so it was disappointing that no one wanted to take it on but everyone’s responsible really.”

In the women’s ‘B’ 800m, Claire Tarplee (Solihull and Small Heath) finished third in 2:08.99.

The 22-year-old will next contest the 1500m but is as yet unsure where and explained:

“I had a really bad position and got stuck at the back of the group so had to go wide and never got in it really.

“I lost so much energy so I felt pretty dead.”

In the women’s ‘C’ 800m, 22-year-old Nikki Maddick (Kingston upon Hull) also placed third in 2:10.01 and said afterwards:

“It was ok, I was a bit nervous beforehand as I had a bad year last year but I’m pleased with that to begin with.

“I’ll next run the 400m in the northern league this weekend.”

Finally, proving age really is no barrier, OCWK male athlete supervisor Anthony Whiteman rolled back the years to participate in the men’s ‘B’ 800m, where he finished fifth in a solid 1:52.58.

The 39-year-old Shaftesbury Barnett Harrier, who has a best of 1:45.81 from 2000, will next tackle some pace-making duties in Watford and exclaimed afterwards:

“It was a shock to the system after not having done anything like that for a few months but I tried to run the shortest distance the whole way round, which I have to do nowadays.

“Then, I ran into a bit of a road block but the conditions were tough so it was more like a training run really - overall, I’m pleased though.”

Report by Nicola Bamford

Friday, 27 May 2011

Breaking through the Barriers


Written by Nicola Bamford

Determined to capitalise on the best season of his athletic career so far, 400m hurdler Nathan Woodward is set to continue his rise to form this summer as he looks ahead to competing in two major championships.

The 21-year-old Staffordshire athlete enjoyed a breakthrough 2010 outdoor campaign in which he won the Loughborough International, sped to a 49.70 lifetime best in Switzerland and reached the semi-final stage of the European Championships in Barcelona, despite finishing only sixth in the British trial and UK Championships.

Having performed admirably on his senior major championship debut and having rose to the eighth-fastest under23 spot on the British all-time rankings, Woodward understandably declared himself content with the year:

“I was fairly happy with how the 2010 season went - I made a breakthrough by going sub-50 seconds for the first time, and gained my first senior selections for the European Champs and Commonwealth games,” he reveals.

“But I really believe I should have made the final (in Spain) and I had to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games due to an illness that had affected me for much of the last half of the season.

“I gained a personal best but again, I believe there was more in the tank.”


Despite his mixed opinion on the year, the Loughborough University-based sprint hurdler is both grateful to be healthy and positive for the forthcoming season, following a troubled two-year period.

After missing almost four months’ worth of racing in the 2009 season due to injury, Woodward again succumbed to an illness setback during the latter part of 2010 so is understandably eager to ensure he has a problem-free summer this time around:

“I am really pleased with how training has gone over the winter - I feel in the best shape I have ever been in, and cannot wait to start getting some good 400m Hurdle races under my belt,” he explains.

“The main goals for this year are to go to the European u23 championships and perform well there and then gain selection for the World Championship team, as well as taking a huge chunk off my personal best.”

The aspiration of medalling in the age-group competition in Ostrava this July is quite realistic for the former English under17 pentathlon champion, as is the chance to compete in Daegu, South Korea in late August.

After finishing the year as Britain’s fourth-fastest in the event, Woodward will aim to be amongst the nation’s top three in order to make his global debut for Team GB:

“The talent in the 400m hurdles in Britain is incredible at the moment, with so many athletes running fast, like Dai Greene leading the way winning both the Europeans and Commonwealth games,” he reveals.

“I think it's exciting that so many Britain's are running fast at the moment, and it can only help push me on to perform at the highest level and run the kind of times that will medal at global championships.”

Guided by Nick Dakin, Woodward has started his campaign in promising style with a 46.82 400m flat personal best in California last month, followed by a 50.34 clocking in his specialist event in Italy a fortnight ago to currently rank him as third on the national rankings.

And with the 2012 London Olympics quickly approaching, Woodward is all too aware of the importance in continuing his sharp progress in time for next summer and beyond:

“I hope to make the final in 2012 and to medal would be fantastic,” he explains.

“After 2012, I aim to keep improving and progressing, with the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 and before the 2016 Olympics in Brazil where I will be 26 and so potentially at my physical peak - so again a (gold) medal will be the main goal there.”

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Making Up for Lost Time


Written by Nicola Bamford

After being forced to miss most of the past two seasons with injury, 400m runner Andrew Steele is determined to sprint his way back into the international fold this summer.

The 26-year-old from Manchester competed only twice in 2009 and only half a dozen times last season but still managed to run 45.99, the fifth-fastest time of the year by a British man, which he given him hope for the year ahead after an encouraging winters training.

Guided by Stephen Ball, Steele is better known as a relay runner and the son of ITV’s This Morning’s doctor Chris but is keen to re-establish himself on the individual scene this season:

“I am feeling good after spending almost five months abroad this year, training in sunny climates,” he reveals.

“After missing almost two years due to illness and injury, I am looking forward to competing.

“The main event for athletics this year - the world championships, takes place in Daegu, South Korea in August. This will be the last major championship before London.”


Having failed to make the last global event two years ago, Steele will be keen to return to top-flight competition in three months’ time in preparation for the Olympics next summer.

It was at the Beijing Games in 2008 where Steele caused a surprise by speeding to a 44.94 lifetime best and 14th on the British all-time list when placing eighth in his semi-final, before helping Team GB for fourth place in the 4x400m relay.

The 2007 UK Champion is yet to begin his 2011 campaign but can-not help but think towards the future:

“My first and foremost goal is to reach the 400m final in London, where - if I am fit and healthy - I can challenge for a medal,” he explains.

“The 400 metres in Britain is historically one of our country’s strongest events and the current crop of athletes is no different.

“There are a group of three or four of us that could all in theory reach the Olympic final if we ran to our best and we should have a 4x400m relay squad good enough to challenge for the gold in London.”

Although not ready to hang his spikes up just yet, Steele also has ambitious hopes for after his athletic career:

“If my body were to allow it, carrying on to Rio in 2016 could be an option but I will re-assess after London,” he reveals.

“I harbour ambitions to become a fully trained Barista, pouring the best espresso in the country from my own coffee shop, alongside being a sought-after film composer, TV presenter, writer, designer and socialite!”

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Athletics Extravaganza!


Dominating runs from Helen Clitheroe and Haile Gebrselassie combined with scintillating sprints from Tyson Gay and Alyson Felix and a double victory from Andy Turner ensured the ‘Great Day of Sport’ in Manchester was not a literal washout
despite the poor weather, writes Nicola Bamford.

BUPA Great Manchester Run -

MEN 10KM –

Thommo earns praise from Geb, the victor yet again

By pushing the man who is unbeaten across the globe in a 10km road race since the 1994 season, Britain’s king of comebacks Chris Thompson earned glittering praise as the future of world 10,000m running from his conqueror on the day, distance-running legend Haile Gebrselassie – who in turn, captured his third-successive victory here with controlled ease.

Coping with his Ethiopian counterpart’s relentless pace almost all the way to the finish-line, Thompson propelled himself onto the international road-running radar following a superb start to his 2011 track campaign, whilst the winner took the tape in an impressive 28:10, enjoying an eleven-second winning margin to boot.

The 38-year-old World marathon record-holder – who now boasts four wins in Manchester – took the lead and was joined by Thompson on his shoulder from the onset as the first kilometre was covered in 2:45.

Fresh from an encouraging 60:18 half-marathon in Vienna, Gebrselassie continued to push the pace and the leading pack crossed the midway point in 14:17 as they turned into the second half of the course which was not plagued by the wind to the same degree as the first.

Going through the seven kilometre mark in 19:49, Gebrselassie surged on in determined fashion, looking every inch the champion he was before temporarily assuming ‘retired’ status last winter after an injury-ravaged ING New York marathon display where he withdrew before announcing his competitive comeback the following week.

Here, seemingly speeding along the final metres in the very same fashion that has seen him capture so many global titles on the track and road since the late nineties, the ‘Emperor’ glided to yet another glorious win and still found the time to praise the runner-up:

“Today was wonderful, the atmosphere was marvellous and I am happy despite the weather,” he said.

“I am very happy with the time and to win here again and I must say, he (Thompson) is a special runner – he will be there at the top in the World the way he is running and improving from his form in Europe - he pushed me hard and I was surprised.

“I am feeling in good shape and as always, I am enjoying my time here.”

Thompson meanwhile was happy with his morning’s work after finishing sixth in the 2010 event and the 30-year-old Aldershot runner – who arrived from his Oregon, USA base six days before the event- explained the confidence-boast he received from the race outcome:

“There were mind games at 8km so I tried to let him (Gebrselassie) know I was still in the race to win and I tried ride the pace for as long as I could from 5km,” revealed the European 10,000m silver-medallist.

“He gave me the odd look with a smile on his face as I kept trying not to grimace back – unfortunately, I wasn’t quite strong enough at the end but I’m chuffed to hear the nice things he’s saying about me and knows I exist.

“The whole experience has given me a lot of confidence for training and for the rest of the season and for the World’s (in Daegu this coming August) - It was tough today but I’m getting stronger.”

Guided by John Nuttall, Thompson was evidently riding on the crest of a wave before this top-class encounter after shooting to number-three all-time on the British all-time 10,000m list, courtesy of an eye-catching 27:27.36 in California recently and will undoubtedly be looking for no less than a top-eight finish in South Korea.

In third with 28:15, 35-year-old nine-time European cross-country champion Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine finished strongly in a well-judged race and exceeded expectations in beating Australia’s Craig Mottram (28:36) and Ireland’s Martin Fagain (28:39).

Mottram, the 30-year-old victor at the Bupa Great Yorkshire 10km over Thompson last September sped off after the race to compete in the Great Salford Swim to recreate his teenage years when he was a national-level triathlete, whilst the 27-year-old Fagan was pleased with his performance followed a winter of injury.

The prize of second Brit surprisingly went to Leeds City AC’s James Walsh, who was violently sick at the finish, such were his efforts. Running a time of 28:42, the 29-year-old finished sixth overall in his first race since placing 77th in the World cross-country Championships in March.

Shortly behind were Blackheath and Bromley’s Scott Overall in 28:49 in seventh, followed by Liverpool’s Jonny Mellor in eighth with 28:50.


Distance proves right choice for Clitheroe

Ten weeks after clinching the European indoor 3,000m crown, Preston’s Helen Clitheroe proved that an attempt to reinvent herself as a distance runner was the correct decision, after obliterating a strong international field in a superb 31:45 lifetime best.

Launching straight into the lead and showcasing impressive displays of gutsy front-running and even-pacing, the 37-year-old ran strongly with a comfortable place at the head of the field for the entire course before coming home ahead of France’s Christelle Daunay with a fourteen second advantage.

Having covered the kilometre splits in 3:12, 3:12, 3:11, 3:16 and 3:15 in the first half, the leading pack crossed halfway in 16:06 before Clitheroe decided to up the tempo and further stretch the field.

Clocking 3:09, 3:10, 3:09, 3:10 in the second half before unleashing a remarkable final 3:01 kilometre split, the John Nuttall-coached athlete – who returned from a month-long spell of altitude training with the UKA endurance camp in Font Romeu on Monday and won an international 4.25k road race in Switzerland five days before the event – sprinted home well clear to also break her 2008 32:15 personal best.

“I’m really happy and quite surprised as it was my first proper 10km race and it was really special here close to my home, and run such a good time in the tough conditions as well,” she explained.

“The support was absolutely brilliant with so many people calling my name which spurred me on and it helped in the last kilometre.

“I was really interested to see how fast I could run today and use it as a springboard for the track season so it’s hopefully a step in the right direction - I was unsure how I would feel today but it showed the training in Font Romeu worked.

“I wish Paula (Radcliffe, the World marathon record-holder who withdrew a fortnight before the event with a chest infection) was here but I did the best I could.

“Today makes me wonder why I didn’t start doing the longer distances in the past!

I’m really enjoying the training for it and today was brilliant - I’m absolutely thrilled and think I can go even quicker.”

Having now established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the distances, Clitheroe will look ahead to running well for Team GB in the European 10,000m challenge next month before taking a crack at the world’s best in Daegu.

Behind Daunay, the 36-year-old who was fourth in the recent Prague half-marathon, Kenya’s Grace Momanyi finished third in 32:05 after recently placing runner-up in the Glasgow 10km.

The 29-year-old Commonwealth 10,000m champion finished ahead of Portugal’s Sara Moreira (32:11), the 25-year-old European 5,000m bronze-medallist and Italy’s Anna Incerti (32:36), the 31-year-old European marathon silver-medallist, in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ethiopia’s 37-year-old former World 10,000m and half-marathon champion and two-time winner here, Berhane Adere finished closely behind in 33:07 before a collection of impressive British performances.

With European junior cross-country champion Charlotte Purdue a late withdrawal due to a knee injury, Bedford and County’s Katrina Wooton was another surprise package, with the 25-year-old – who was only fifth in the recent Trafford 10km – recording 33:15 in seventh place overall.

In eighth, Charnwood’s Hannah Whitmore, 27, clocked 33:38 ahead of recent Berlin hald-marathon third-placer Sonia Samuels (ninth, 33:43) and Laura Whittle (tenth, 33:48), respectively.


Taking his fifth title here, five-time London marathon winner David Weir of Surrey clocked 22:23 from his British compatriot Simon Lawson (25:24) in his usual dominating display.

The 31-year-old T54 athlete, coached by Jenny Archer explained afterwards:

“The wind was making me work hard on the way back so it was a tough experience.

“I’m racing a big race in Switzerland soon for the Olympic qualifying standard, rather than doing the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

“The Paralympics will be more interesting than the Olympics - I haven’t really started training for it yet with my team but I’m feeling good and today was good despite the conditions, I’m pretty pleased.”

Winner of the Bupa Great North 10km last summer, 28-year-old Lawson of the T53 class improved on his fourth-place position from the 2010 edition.


With serial race winner Shelley Woods missing in action, 22-year-old Nikki Emerson took over the British number-one spot for the day with an impressive four-minute winning margin.

Clocking 31:50 ahead of Collette Martin, the recent runner-up in the London mini
marathon, Emerson said afterwards:

“It was a really good race – I’m disappointed with the time but it went well.

“I slipped at the start and got my hand stuck in the wheel so I had to catch them up but from a couple of kilometres, I felt good.

I was really pleased to do the 10km as I’m training for sprint races and it was really nice to have the support from all of my group here.”

What with the winner being coached by Ian Thompson, the husband and coach to Dame

Tanni Grey-Thompson – who finished fourth after coming out of retirement to participate – and Ian himself placing eighth in the men’s race, it was a busy day for the training group indeed.

Grey-Thompson, the 41-year-old eleven-time Paralympic and nine-time World champion registered 39:29 before commenting:

“It was really good fun, amazing and a really good race but the first 5km was really hard into the wind and I won’t be racing too often.”


100m Women –

Jeanette Kwakye continued her return to form since Achilles and knee surgery in the 2009 season with a comfortable win in 11.60 from Anyika Onuora’s 11.65.

The 28-year-old 2008 World indoor 60m silver-medallist from Woodford Green with Essex Ladies stormed clear from the onset to finish clear of Liverpool’s Onuora, who herself is also returning from knee surgery from last summer.

Kwakye divulged afterwards:

“It was a good run but an exhibition really.

“It was an excellent crowd but my season really starts in Loughborough this weekend -I got back from the US this week and I’m in better shape that the time shows.

I want to get back into the world top-ten but after injury, I have to take it day by day but I’m looking forward to a challenge.”

100m Men –

Mark Lewis-Francis proved the doubters wrong as he successfully opened his 2011 outdoor campaign despite still suffering the effects of a torn adductor dating back to February during the indoor season.

The problem forced the 28-year-old European and Commonwealth 100m silver-medallist to withdraw from March’s European indoor championship but the Linford Christie-coached Birchfield Harrier was determined to defend his 100m title here and did so in dominating fashion.

Speeding to a useful 10.33 in rain-drenched and windy conditions, Lewis-Francis finished ahead of Gateshead’s Richard Kilty, 21 who ran 10.51 from Shaftesbury’s Nick Smith (10.52).

The victor explained afterwards:

“I’m nowhere near 100% and I could feel my groin in the warm-up so this weather was a real big test for me and I was on the verge of pulling out but I soldiered on.

My start was terrible and I’ve missed out on five weeks of training so I’m playing catch up now but 10.33 in freezing conditions is good and I can build on that.

I was given twelve weeks to get back jogging but after working hard in LA, I’m back ahead of schedule which is amazing but I have to play it safe – hopefully it’s behind me and I need to get it stronger now.”

Still uncertain whether to contest the 200m at the Loughborough international this weekend, he continued:

“I don’t want to not make the team for Daegu by resting too much so I have to be careful.”

110m Hurdles Men –

European and Commonwealth champion Andy Turner kicked his day’s action off with a solid 13.41 winning start, ahead of the USA’s Dominic Berger (13.49).

The 30-year-old Sale Harrier ran 13.28 in Jamaica recently but coped admirably in the challenging conditions.

“Training’s been going well and I’m lifting heavier in the gym, as well as using some technical help with a biomechanics expert,” the Lloyd Cowan-coached athlete revealed.

“I’ve obviously got a long way to go to beat Xiang, Oliver and Robles but I’m happy where I’m at and I look forward to racing them, as I’ve won all my races so far and need them to bring out the best in me.

“It was tough conditions and the wind pushed me into the hurdles so I made mistakes but I was happy to win.”

Turner will next race in Hengelo and will also take away the confidence from easily beating two-time former World indoor champion Terrence Trammell, who finished third in 13.51 here.

100m Hurdles Women –

American Danielle Carruthers upset the local hopes by convincingly beating Britain’s golden girl Jessica Ennis into third, with a dominant 12.73 performance.

The 31-year-old world number-eight last year was a fine runner-up in the opening Diamond League leg in Doha recently and always looked certain of retaining her title from last year’s event.

Ennis meanwhile, was pushed into third by another American, Ginne Crawford, 27 – the wife of 2004 Olympic 200m champion Shawn – who ran 12.87 to Ennis’ 12.88.

The 25-year-old Sheffield athlete’s time was impressive, considering her 12.81 lifetime best, though and the World and European heptathlon champion additionally enjoyed the scalp of hurdles specialist Tiffany Ofili, Team GB’s new recruit from the States, who here ran 12.88 and the 23-year-old European indoor silver-medallist has a best of 12.73 to look ahead to beating.

The red hot favourite for Olympic heptathlon gold in London next year said:

“I was pleased with my first race. The weather’s been horrendous but the crowd’s been great in supporting us really well. It was a really strong field and I hope to improve my time later in the season.”

200m Men –

France’s European 100m and 200m bronze-medallist Martial Mbanjock followed the form book by enjoying a comfortable victory in 20.35 to Kim Collins’ 20.43.

The 25-year-old trailed his 35-year-old Saint Kitts and Nevis rival at the midway point (10.37 to Collins’ 10.27) but finished strongly to defeat the 2003 World 100m champion.

America’s Shawn Crawford, meanwhile recorded 20.68, following his 2010 150m victory here.

Guided by 2000 Olympic 100m champion Maurice Green of the USA, Mbanjock explained:

“It was very long, it was my first time doing a straight 200m and I couldn’t simulate it in training but I enjoyed it.

I’m most happy by who I beat than the time but with the weather, coming from the weather in LA, I can be happy.

I want to make the World final and it’s a long season so I’ll take my time and keep working hard.”

200m Women –

Three-time World 200m champion Alyson Felix lived up to her ‘clear favourite’ billing by destroying the field in a classy 22.12 from France’s Myriam Soumare (23.35).

The 25-year-old American sped through the 100m mark in a swift 11.26 before storming home well clear of the European champion.

Woodford Green with Essex Ladies’ 37-year-old Joice Maduaka clocked 23.67 to surpsingly finish ahead of Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, who struggled home in 24.48.

The 27-year-old from London had recently enjoyed a training stint in Jamaica with sprint sensation Usain Bolt’s group but is evidently still struggling with the torn quad she barely managed with last season.

The winner said afterwards:

“I felt good and felt like I had a good run - it was a little windy but I was happy to get my legs moving and enjoyed it.

“The conditions were tough but the Olympics are going to be in London so you never know, it could be like this again, you have to be ready,” explained the Olympic silver-medallist, who will next contest the 200m and 400m in Rome.

“It’s a long season so I’m taking my time by easing into the season in order to get my 200m world title. This is a great way to build the sport’s profile.”

Ohuruogu – who next races in Ostrava over 400m, revealed:

“I’m not really happy with that but we can run and go inside to get warm, unlike the
supporters out there, who are incredible.

“My quad is tight but it’s alright - the 400m is a lot less impact so I’m going to rest a little and get a base in for them.

“This is an amazing event which keeps growing and is free to the general public, which is great so thanks for their support, especially in the pouring rain, which I really appreciate – it’s important to raise the profile in the countdown to 2012.”

200m Hurdles Men –

Andy Turner continued his impressive day’s work by taking his second victory of the afternoon in winning the 200m hurdles in equally-impressive style.

The victor from the 2010 event in 22.30, Turner passed halfway in 11.03 then went onto record 22.10 this time around from last year’s 400m hurdles number-one Bershawn Jackson of the USA, who clocked 22.26.

America’s two-time Olympic long-hurdles champion Angelo Taylor registered 22.84 for third place.

Turner said:

“I never train for it and if I had longer in between, I could have run faster.

“My technique’s getting better and I feel I have a better time in me given the right race.

“I train to race and love the adrenaline. I love the 200m hurdles, 110’s the business and 200m’s the pleasure – I’d love it to be an Olympic event, I’d give up the 110 then – it makes it more interesting.”

150m Women –

Commonwealth 200m runner-up Abi Oyepitan continued her return to form following years of an Achilles nightmare to take the 150m in 17.34 from Jessica Ennis (17.40).

The 31-year-old Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier was in last place for the first 50m before storming clear ahead of Ennis and Harrow’s 28-year-old Laura Turner - who won this event last year - in third (17.43).

Oyepitan explained:

“I wasn’t too happy with the time and I had the worst start ever but was super strong at the end which bodes well for the rest of the season.

I’ll next race in Loughborough but due to my past injury problems, I don’t tend to plan ahead anymore so I’m not looking at Deagu yet.”

Ennis meanwhile, expressed her thoughts on a busy afternoon’s work and will next target the javelin and one other event in Loughborough:

“I’m a bit disappointed with the 150m – I didn’t get a good start or drive out so I was chasing the whole way.

“It was a shame about the conditions but a really good day.

I’ve got some good running in my legs and came away with no pain. It was a test to see what kind of shape I’m in after having a few weeks off running.”

150m Men –

World 100m and 200m champion Tyson Gay succeeded in retaining his title but fell short of eclipsing Usain Bolt’s 14.35 world-best from the 2009 event.

The 28-year-old American scorched to a scintillating 14.51 to finish well clear of his compatriot Darvis Patton (14.98) and Coventry’s Marlon Devonish (15.10).

Carrying a hip injury which is requiring constant medical attention, Gay could not quite match the 19.41 he recorded in last year’s event but he declared himself content with his efforts nevertheless:

“I was a bit sore but felt pretty good - I came through 100m in 9.91 so I’m where everyone else in the world is right now.

“It was nice to feel comfortable and not feel the pressure here - I wish I could have done the first 100m a bit faster but I’m satisfied,” said the world’s second-fastest ever, who will next compete in New York.

“The crowd was great and I can’t wait to do it again.

“I pushed my body as far as it wanted to go today, I’ll see a doctor after my MRI this week to get a second opinion and I just want to stay healthy – I’m looking forward to the trials and the World’s.”

Patton, the 37-year-old World 200m eighth-placer, was content with his performance, as was the 34-year-old Devonish – who incidentally, is the UK 150m record-holder courtesy of his 14.88 clocking last year.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Badders Excited for Fresh Start


He attracted criticism for poor tactical errors in two major championship finals last year but following an encouraging indoor campaign, middle-distance man Andy Baddeley is confident of success in 2011 and beyond, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 28-year-old from Merseyside has failed to win a championship medal since taking silver in the 2003 World University Games 1500m event and is better known for his performances on the road, but after finishing just outside the medals in the 3,000m at the European indoor championships in Paris last March, Baddeley is positive he can finally make a mark on the global outdoor scene.

Coached by Andy Hobdell and based at St Mary’s University in London - where he used to work as a part-time lecturer - Baddeley enjoyed a promising start to the year, winning the UK indoor 3,000m title, being ranked as the second-fastest Briton of the season with 3:39.16 for the 1500m and placing fourth in France, which should all set
him up for a good summer:

“I’m feeling excited about getting out and competing in 2011,” the British road one-mile record-holder with 3:51.08 explains.

“I was tantalisingly close to a medal at the European indoors with relatively limited preparation so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do outdoors after recent training stints in Kenya and Colorado.”

With bests of 3:34.46 for 1500m (from 2008), 3:49.38 for the track mile (2008) and 7:42.75 for 3,000m (2010), Baddeley lies in 17th, sixth and 14th position on the
British all-time lists, achievements which many tend to forget are performed, quite astonishingly, whilst running with an electrocardiogram in his chest due to an irregular heartbeat.

However, Baddeley is keen to dispel the condition as the cause for his below-par performances in 2010 and reveals:

“I didn't achieve what I set out to achieve, which were medals in the Europeans and Commonwealths.”

All was not lost, though for the first-class Cambridge University aerospace engineering graduate did manage to finish near to his 1500m best in the Aviva British Grand Prix in Gateshead and placed fifth for Team Europe over the same distance in the IAAF/VTB Continental Cup at the end of the summer.

“I wasn't far off (my aims) though, and spent a lot of time post-season working out small changes that will hopefully make a big difference this season,” Baddeley continues.

Aiming High

After contesting the last World Championships with a pain-killing injection into his foot after relying on crutches the day before racing the semi-final in Berlin and also racing through an Achilles problem at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Baddeley is understandably hoping for far better luck for the same competitions this summer and next:

“My major goal for 2011 is the World Champs in Daegu, South Korea (in August) - everything is preparation for that,” he explains.

Opening his outdoor season at the BMC Grand Prix in Manchester in the 800m at the month, Baddeley will then contest the Diamond League in Oslo and is well aware of the strong British competition for championship places:

“The 1500m is getting a lot stronger, and I think good competition is really important to push us all to faster times and higher expectations,” he reveals.

“Having three Britons in the final in Barcelona was fantastic and shows that with Tom Lancashire and Colin McCourt we're in good shape.”

Training with five other British internationals including Mark Draper and Michael Skinner in the capital, Baddeley is working hard to ensure his Olympic dream is still alive and well come London next summer:

“I was a finalist in Beijing and have worked hard since then to be stronger, faster and better, so ultimately, I am aiming as high as I can and looking for a medal in London,” he explains in addition to the fact that he would like to work in running shoe design after his athletic career.

“Long-term, it's easy to forget that everything carries on after London, but I want to continue to race the best guys in the world, and train in wonderful places across the continents.

“My aims post 2012 will be the same as before - train hard, and win races.”

It sounds a simple plan and one that could just be the key for his untapped potential to finally be unleashed on the track when it matters most this summer and next on home-turf.

Chrissy O's Race against Time


Three years ago, she had the sport at her feet with World and Olympic gold and was billed as Britain’s best bet for glory in London 2012 but now, in her third consecutive season riddled with injury, Christine Ohuruogu is in a race against time to return to form for her big title defence next summer, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 400m runner – who celebrates her 27th birthday today – has endured a long line of injuries since capturing gold in Beijing 2008 and has frustratingly witnessed both her 2012 ‘favourite’ tag and her times diminish in the process.

The past few seasons have been a cruel blow for the 2007 World champion, as – due to persistent problems - she was relegated to fifth in the 2009 global event and forced to miss both the European championships and Commonwealth Games last year – the latter season with a torn quad muscle.

The drama has indeed continued into 2011, with Ohuruogu still citing soreness in the area which caused her to finish fourth and last in a poor 23.48 200m at the Great Manchester CityGames last weekend, behind her fierce rival for world gold this summer, American Alyson Felix, the three-time World champion over the half-lap.

“I’m not really happy , my quad is tight but it’s alright - the 400m is a lot less impact so I’m going to rest a little and get a base in for them later in the season,” the Newham and Essex Beagle reveals.

“I had a scan the other day and its better - I think I was in denial last year, it was a bigger injury than I wanted to admit myself.

“I was trying to push too hard, which was a big lesson for me, so it serves me right, really.

“It was a bit sore and tight the other day so I pulled out of the race in Jamaica but I won’t stop training for it, it’s just a matter of getting it loosened up.”

Guided by Lloyd Cowan at their London base, the pair decided it best to make a change this springtime so Ohuruogu jetted off to the Caribbean island to hook up with triple world record-holder Usain Bolt and his group for a six-week training

It was a spell which the British 150m record-holder insists did her the world of good, too:

“I like the relaxed Jamaican attitude – they don’t stress so it’s a very simple way of life,” she explains.

“They work very hard - I wouldn’t have been able to replicate that at home.

“I felt the pressure as Olympic champion, trying to run away from the other girls - I will probably go back next year to get away from the British winter and focus on getting the groundwork done.”


Having started off the season with a 53.09 400m and 23.49 200m clocking in America, the former England-level netballer is determined to improve as the summer progresses but Ohuruogu knows more than most just how testing the sport can be.

After taking the 2006 Commonwealth title as a 21-year-old and winning the world crown in Osaka, 2007 in her first year as a senior athlete – and a mere twenty-four days and seven races after completing her one-year competition ban for missing three drugs tests – and the coveted Olympic title, Ohuruogu has struggled to get back to her best.

Despite the onslaught of constant injuries, she has been the British number-one for the past four years and managed to record 50.88 last summer but is eager to return to the 49.61 2007 shape which took her to third on the national all-time list and the higher echelons of international athletics:

“2009 got me the most as the injury knocked me after a strong year and last year
wasn’t supposed to happen – I thought the (European) title was mine,” she reveals.

Although still fiercely confident and hungry for success, Ohuruogu has a refreshing take on her troubles:

“It was really nice - after pushing my body for six years - to take a break from the mental rollercoaster and chill for a bit.

“I was annoyed but it wasn’t that frustrating as the body’s not designed to keep doing this year after year and it’s torturous.

“There’s a very thin line between being strong and crashing - I actually had a good summer for a change and enjoyed having a rest and settled the body and mind.”

Having been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2009 New Year’s Honours’ list, Ohuruogu is keen to return her thanks for such British support by climbing atop of the medals podium next summer in the country’s greatest sporting extravaganza in London.

In the event in which she also just missed out on the final as a 20-year-old in the
Athens 2004 edition, Ohuruogu is eager to take full advantage of successfully overturning her Olympic ban from the 2006 ruling in late 2009 by finally overcoming her injuries to take gold once again.

One of nine children, her family home is a mile away from the Olympic stadium in Stratford and Ohuruogu’s first challenge on the road back to Olympic glory will be at the World Championships in Deagu, South Korea this August.

“Training’s gone well but I don’t really feel that I’m where I was this time last year so I want to nail some things in training before racing more,” explains the athlete who will next compete over 400m in Ostrava at the end of the month.

“I want to qualify (for the World’s) before the UK trials and nothing less than medalling would be acceptable to me – the same with London.

“I know I can challenge the best at 400m and I never run away from a challenge, I hope it’s still in me to win.

Fate has evidently changed Ohuruogu’s path over the years from 2012 golden hope to a runner who Team GB will now even be unsure as to her participation, but if she can finally rise above her health problems, she may just manage to silence the critics in time:

“People are focusing too much on 2012, you have to do well in 2011 first,” Ohuruogu reveals.

“It (London) will be so big, being a home crowd - a pressure cooker and like the World championships times ten.

“It’s a two-year programme and I think I know what to expect.

“If it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to kill myself but I have a lot of experience and I belief I know myself well enough to know if something wasn’t right and how to
push my body.”

Monday, 9 May 2011

‘On Camp’ and ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ Athletes Join Forces in Season Opener


To kick off the summer outdoor track season, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes yesterday brought together two of her mentoring and education initiatives at the “Get Set for 2011” Get-Together with great success, writes Nicola Bamford.

Based at Birmingham University’s excellent sports facilities, talented athletes from both the ‘On Camp with Kelly’ (OCWK) and ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ (FSWK) initiatives enjoyed an action-packed day of training and workshops designed to prepare them for the arduous season ahead.

Following an overnight stay in the west-midlands city, a small group plagued by injury began their day at an early hour with a drilling from Dame Kelly in the pool in an intensive aqua-jogging session.

After breakfast, a total of 26 middle-distance stars descended on the university to be welcomed by an inspirational opening speech from Dame Kelly.

Showcasing video highlights of past events to provide an overview of the scheme for newcomers, Dame Kelly then gave an insight into the benefits of her nationally-recognised initiatives as well as tips on how to remain in the sport and at a high-level as the athletes reach an age ravaged by a large drop-out rate.

After each athlete and member of staff had introduced themselves to the group, a warm-up took place outside in an untimely bout of torrential rain.

Following a skilful drills session overseen by Dame Kelly, the athletes then ventured onto the track where the unfortunate weather continued – mostly enjoyed only by the residing ducks in the steeplechase water-jump.

Some decided upon a steady run or gym session as an alternative, and benefitting from free physiotherapy and sports massage services available throughout the day, the group were indeed well looked after.

With three groups showing off their abilities at super-fast speed, Dame Kelly could even be spotted sprinting down the home straight of one athletes’ 300m repetition session but alas, she still insists that her running days are well and truly behind her!

After lunch, Dame Kelly gave a season preparation workshop to the Aviva-sponsored OCWK athletes with a large focus on goal-setting for the season ahead.

Stressing the importance of being specific, she then went onto discuss selection criteria and entry standards for the years in addition to providing tips for quality preparation such as mental preparation, quality sessions, competition simulation and mental rehearsal before a race – finishing the session with past race video’s showcasing determination and aggressive race tactics.

At same time, the FSWK group partook in a nutritional workshop with Matt Cole who explained the importance of knowing exactly what an athlete is eating as well as tips on adequately eating to fuel and recover.

Next up was a physiotherapy workshop with Sarah Connors who discussed signs of injury, causes, treatment and prevention then took the athletes over to the gym to teach self-massage techniques with foam-rollers and tennis balls.

Whilst the FSWK group had their turn in the season preparation session with their mentor, Nicola Bamford took the OCWK athletes through a media training workshop, covering topics such as how to be marketable, interview tips for face-to-face and over the phone and email, social media advice, interview prep and quote rehearsal.

Nearing the end of the day, Sandrine Walker led a practical-filled Pilates session back in the gym before Dame Kelly brought the successful event to a close with a light snack and closing speech with good luck messages to the group.

The Athens 2004 800m and 1500m champion reflected:

“The Get-Together went very well - it was the first time I’ve joined up my FSWK and OCWK athletes like this and I think they all excelled and learned a lot.

The workshops were appropriate for this time of year such as the season preparation to help get them ready for the season ahead and having the opportunity to all train together was something they all really thrived on and a different environment helped bring the best out of them.

The media training was appropriate for the OCWK athletes as they’re at that age and level where the media are interested in them and everyone benefitted from the Pilates session including myself and the nutrition showed how important it is to them.

I think all of the athletes applied themselves well – they all know what I expect from them and I think everybody tried really well. Bringing the two groups together was a great idea.”

GB international Faye Fullerton, 26 of Havering Mayersbrook also gave her thoughts on the day:

“The OCWK day was really insightful and particularly beneficial as we received guidance and tips on everything from our season goals to injury prevention.

This invaluable advice will no doubt constitute to my performances over the next two coming seasons.

The help and support that the OCWK team as well as Kelly herself give was extremely valuable. I am very grateful to be part of such an enthusiastic and highly-motivated group of athletes.”

FSWK athlete Robbie Schofield, 20, of Newham and Essex Beagles and Loughborough University said:

“It’s been a fantastic day, I’ve really enjoyed it – there are a lot of things I can take away from the day to help me progress.
It’s terrific to be mentored by Dame Kelly – it was great to have her support, especially when I was aqua-jogging in the pool.”