Monday, 20 February 2012

OCWK/FSWK Aviva GP Report


PB’s for Learmonth, Brewer and Bird; Strong Showing from England at Aviva GP

World 1,500m silver-medallist Hannah England capped her short yet impressive indoor season with a fine second-place finish amongst a world-class field in Birmingham today, whilst a trio of ‘On Camp with Kelly’ and ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ athletes registered lifetime bests at the Aviva Grand Prix in the city’s National Indoor Arena.

Speeding to the cheers of her home-crowd support, 24-year-old England clocked a season’s best 4:09.79 to finish as runner-up to Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba (4:01.33) in a thrilling metric mile final.

A week after clinching the UK 3,000m title in Sheffield and a month after running 4:25.11 in the Glasgow international, the Oxford-born runner explained:

“It was good and I performed as I expected, I just hoped to go a bit quicker than that.

“I did it the hard way and in the last few laps I was just trying to concentrate on running well and not worrying about the girls behind.”

Seventh in this same event in 2011 before taking her first major international championship medal, she continued:

“I’m chuffed that I managed to hold them off the whole way.”

Although not far off her 4:07.13 personal best from twelve months ago, England will now call an end to her winter racing campaign as she shifts her competitive focus in preparation for the Olympic Games in London this August.

One of the youngest athletes to impress the stadium-packed crowd overlooking the bright blue track was FSWK athlete Guy Learmonth.

The 19-year-old Scot sped to a superb 1:47.84 800m lifetime best when finishing eighth amongst another top-class senior elite field.

Fresh from a second place finish in Sheffield, the former rugby player took a second and a half off his season’s best and eclipsed his personal best set last season by almost a second.

“I’m so happy to get the qualifying time (for the World indoor Championships) at 19 – it’s just brilliant to make the team at this age,” he revealed on his forthcoming selection for the global event in Istanbul next month, which will be his debut in an international senior championship.

“I tried to run my socks off in such a strong race and I can’t quite believe it – I’ll find out (about Turkey) for definite early next week and it’s a real dream come true.”

Another athlete feeling confident yet still awaiting official selection for the main event of the winter is OCWK athlete James Brewer.

The 23-year-old from Cheltenham crossed the line in seventh with a new lifetime best of 3:38.03 to greet him.

Taking almost four seconds off his previous best dating back to 2008, the UK indoor silver-medallist from Sheffield is now looking forward to recapturing his best form from the beginning of the last Olympic cycle:

“I tried to hold on for as long as I could and felt good really,” he explained.

“The plan was to hold on to the quicker guys and chase hard the whole way - I made sure I didn’t push too hard so soon so it was nice to feel strong on the home straight.

“That’s the fastest I’ve run since around Beijing and Berlin (the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships) so I’m really pleased.

“The field was a strong as the World’s will be next month so I hope to get into the final there and then anything can happen.”

One OCWK runner still searching for the illusive qualifying time for Turkey, however, is fast-improving 800m athlete Tara Bird.

The 24-year-old from Woodford Green with Essex Ladies registered a personal best by almost half a second here when speeding to a strong 2:04.96 clocking, yet is still forced to chase the 2:03.50 criteria before time runs out in the coming days.

Paced by OCWK and 2:02.30 Liverpool runner Vicky Griffiths – who has not raced since June last year due to injury - the UK indoor silver-medallist finished behind a trio of top European’s and her training partner Marilyn Okoro (who finished third in 2:02.62) and revealed afterwards:

“I was quite nervous going into this competition because I was the slowest going into it by far so I’m really pleased to not come last.

“Although I was a second outside the qualifying time, I do feel I can do it and will have another go.

“I’ve missed the indoor season for the past couple of years with injury so it’s really great to be running so well.”

Meanwhile, an OCWK athlete suffering further frustration was Birchfield Harrier Mark Mitchell, who was forced to withdraw midway through his two-mile debut against World 5,000m champion Mo Farah and a stellar cast.

Report written by Nicola Bamford.

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