The second and final day of SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships saw Eilidh Doyle (coach: Brian Doyle, club: Pitreavie) live up to her billing as pre-race favourite to retain the women’s 400m title in fine style on a brilliant second day of athletics at Arena Birmingham.
Taking the title in a 51.84 season’s best, Doyle was way inside the qualifying standard required for selection for Birmingham 2018 World Indoor Championships that take place in the same venue in just under two weeks’ time.
In truth there was only ever going to be one winner as Doyle hit the front when the athletes broke from their lanes after 200m, although her fellow Scot Zoey Clark (Eddie McKinna, Thames Valley) did put up a great fight and was rewarded with a silver medal and 52.12 personal best.
Behind the pair Amy Allcock (Glyn Hawkes, Aldershot) rounded out the podium with an impressive 52.74 personal best and will hope she’s done enough for a Birmingham 2018 4x400m relay spot.
Post-race Doyle commented:
“I am delighted with that. It was going to be tough against Zoey – I knew if she broke ahead of me it would be really difficult to get past her so thankfully I got there in front. I am always proud to win the British title – I love competing at these championships. I love an indoor 400m, it is so different to the outdoors. It is so tactical and I think I thrive on that.
In impressive form alongside Doyle, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg, WSEH) showed just why she is a world finalist as she ran away from strong field to win her fourth straight British 800m title in an outstanding 2:00.06 time. Pushing the pace over the final two laps and looking strong as ever, Oskan-Clarke was rewarded with an indoor personal best and a World Indoor qualifying mark, securing her spot on the British Athletics team in two weeks’ time.
“I’m very happy to have defended my title and run a time that reflects my training,” said Oskan-Clarke
“I’m trying to get better tactically and if I’m not at the front, making sure not to stress and make the moves when I’m meant to. Today was my last chance to put a good time out going into Birmingham and I’m really happy with that. I’d like to be in the final and anything can happen when you get there.”
It was a memorable championship for young Scot Mhairi Hendry (William Parker, Victoria Park) who smashed her personal best once again to take silver, her 2:01.30 run over a second quicker than she’s ever gone before and also within the world qualifying mark of 2:02.00.
One of the surprises of the weekend came in the men’s 400m as Lee Thompson (John Henson, Sheffield) took the title in a huge 46.23 personal best and World Indoor Championship qualifying mark.
Whilst Thompson was favourite on paper his performance in the final was a big step up, over half a second quicker than he’s ever gone before in fact, running a fast opening lap and holding it together well in the final 200m.
“I didn’t think I had that time in me, I’m just over the moon. I have thrived on the adrenaline of competing in this arena; it is such a fast track. My opening 200m is the fastest I’ve ever gone so it set me up perfectly for the final 200m. I was confident if I got the break first, I would go on and win it.
“I was confident I would get the qualifying time for world indoors but I never thought I’d run 46.23. Especially not after the heats yesterday – this is just completely overwhelming. Going into the worlds, my confidence is sky high. This is my first senior national title which is very special.”
With Sudan’s Sadam Koumi not eligible for the British Championships, Jamal Rhoden-Stevens (Shaftesbury Barnet) and Grant Plenderleith (David Lothian, Sheffield) took the minor medals, both men setting new personal bests of 47.14 and 47.27 respectively.
Adam Hague (Trevor Fox, Sheffield) was undoubtedly the star of the day in the field, a 5.65m clearance a new lifetime best for the British junior record holder.
Still on the comeback trail after a back injury ruled him out of most of last summer, it’s hard to believe Hague is still only 20 years of age, but none-the-less he showed maturity and poise to first clear a 5.55m European Championship standard, before setting that fine personal best.
Now fourth on the British all-time list, Hague was delighted with his effort:
“It was amazing – literally the perfect competition. I don’t think it could possibly have gone better than that. It is great to win this British title, it really means a lot. I’ve put 10cm on my best, which is a bigger improvement than I expected. I thought I would improve my best but I wasn’t sure this was possible.”
There was a brace of British records in the 5,000m race walks, the first two track finals on day two, Bethan Davies (Andi Drake, Cardiff) and Tom Bosworth (Drake, Tonbridge) dominating from gun to tape. Bosworth thrilled the Birmingham crowd with his pulsating performance, a typically charismatic celebration followed his 18:28.20 clocking.
There was also delight for Davies as she took her second British Indoor title, the first time the women have ever raced over 5,000m indoors, a huge positive step for the sport. Both Leeds based athletes collected $2,500 cheques for their records and will now head to the Commonwealth Games with their eyes firmly set on medals.
The penultimate track event saw Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan, Dundee) upgraded 3,000m silver to 1500m gold on day two in Birmingham, ratcheting up the pace as the race went on to win by nearly two seconds.
After a pedestrian opening few laps the Dundee athlete went to the front and controlled things, showing her finishing speed over the last 400m to take the title in 4:13.94. Katie Snowden (Rob Denmark, Herne Hill), who like McColgan has the Birmingham 2018 standard, took silver with Stacey Smith (David Lowes, Gateshead) returning to the sport with bronze.
Elsewhere in middle-distance action Elliot Giles (Bigg, Birchfield) won a tactical men’s 800m to make it three British titles in a row, indoor and out, bursting past runner-up Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb) down the back straight, with Andrew Osagie (Mark Rowland, Harrow) third.
The men’s 3,000m was the final event of the day and it was Andrew Heyes (Steve Vernon, Hallamshire) who broke clear in the closing stages to take the title in a 7.54.81 personal best, with minor medallists Phil Sesemann (Andrew Henderson, Blackheath) and Lewis Moses (Alex Hains, Darlington) also running new bests of 7.55.71 and 7.56.00.
Stepping down to the 200m finals, Finette Agyanpong (Coral Nourrice, Newham) needed a personal best run of 23.30 to retain her title, with Meghan Beesley (Michael Baker, Birchfield) also revising her PB with a 23.57 for second. Bronze went to young 400m star Amber Anning (Lloyd Cowan, Brighton) having run a PB in the semi-finals.
In the men’s race Antonio Infantino made the most of the outside lane to break the tape in 20.77, the fastest time by an Italian for 31 years. In the battle for the British Championship medals Edmond Amaning (Thames Valley) found the crucial one hundredth of a second that he needed to clinch gold ahead of Andrew Morgan-Harrison (Hull, Pam Piercy).
That duo ran personal bests of 21.04 and 21.05, with Elliot Powell (James Hillier, Leicester) bagging bronze.
A thrilling women’s shot put competition went down to the wire, as Rachel Wallader (Richard Woodhall, WSEH) overhauled Sophie McKinna (Mike Winch, Great Yarmouth), who had led since round one, with her final throw of the competition.
McKinna had set a personal best of 17.34m in round three and with Wallader the only woman who could deny her gold, the former European Junior medallist looked home and dry. But it wasn’t to be, as Wallader set an indoor personal best of 17.45m, and despite her best efforts and another personal best McKinna had to settle for silver, 3cm shy of the winner.
The men’s high jump was another closely fought contest but it went to form as the best man on paper, Mike Edwards (Cliff Rovelto, Birchfield), took the title with a 2.20m clearance.
With first time clearances all the way up to that height he got the better of Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft, Sale) and Chris Kandu (John Herbert, Enfield) who both set season’s bests but had to settle for silver and bronze on countback.
Naomi Ogbeta (Tom Cullen, Sale) continues to go from strength to strength, the brightest talent that British triple jumping has had for some time, as she hopped, stepped and jumped to a 13.65m personal best and the British Indoor title. Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore, Birchfield) won the men’s event with his very first jump, a 16.77m season’s best enough to see off Julian Reed (Moore, Birchfield).
Full results from the championships can be found here.