There was a new British record in the women’s 4x800m as the GB & NI team also performed strongly in the women’s 4x400m and men’s 4x100m at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, USA, today.
The GB & NI women’s 4x800m team set a new British record of 8:13.46 as they finished fourth in a race won by the USA in a time of 8:04.31. The team of Lynsey Sharp (coach: Terrence Mahon), Marilyn Okoro (Johnny Gray), Tara Bird (Ayo Fayola) and Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) were over six seconds quicker than the previous record of 8:19.9 set back in 1992.
The same GB & NI team that won gold at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg lined up in the women’s 4x400m as the team of Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), Shana Cox (George Williams), Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) and Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah) finished second in an incredibly tight race with the USA.
Shakes-Drayton narrowly lost out to Olympic 400m finalist Francena McCorory by just two hundredths of a second on a thrilling anchor leg as she brought the team home in a time of 3:22.58 – the third quickest time ever by GB & NI and the first ever podium finish for a GB & NI team at the event.
In a tight men’s 4x100m race, the GB & NI men finished fourth behind Jamaica and two USA teams. James Ellington (Rana Reider), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Reider), Danny Talbot (Daniel Cossins) and Andrew Robertson (Cossins) crossed the line in a time of 38.99.
There was disappointment for GB & NI in both the men’s distance medley relay and 4x400m as they failed to complete both events.
Martyn Rooney fell on the 400m second leg of the distance medley relay, while Michael Bingham (Williams) also tripped on the same leg in the 4x400m for GB & NI following a good start by Richard Buck (Steve Fudge).
Despite the unfortunate finishes for the Distance Medley and men’s 4x400m team, Head Coach Peter Eriksson was positive about the performances of the British team.
“The 4x800m was a British record by six seconds and I think the girls did really well. Tara Bird was really strong on the last leg which was great to see from the youngest on the team.
"The women’s 4x400m was also phenomenal coming off a training camp, being that close after a full month of training is fantastic and gives me a lot of confidence going forward that this can be a real winning team.
“In the men’s 4x100m men we had a young team, again coming straight off a camp and the time for this time of the year is great.”