Dina Asher-Smith’s (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) outstanding 10.96 championship record run to win gold in the women’s 100m headlined a stellar first day of Muller British Athletics Championships action in a sunny but windy Alexander Stadium.
Jeopardy and drama are always at the heart of the national championships and 2019 was no different as Ojie Edoburun (Steve Fudge, Shaftesbury Barnet) clinched British 100m gold for his first-ever senior title while Harry Coppell (John Mitchell, Wigan & District) showed brilliantly to revise his personal best by 10cm and notch the Doha qualifying mark with gold in the pole vault.
The athlete that many had turned out to see, Asher-Smith didn’t disappoint when it came to stepping on the start-line, with a sublime semi-final run of 11.03 into a notable headwind laying down the marker for what was to come.
In the final, a characteristically explosive start saw her put metres between her and the rest of the field, with a dip for the line and gold seeing the clock stop first at 11.03, before then correcting itself and rounding down to 10.96, a time that revised the championship record set last year by 0.01 of a second. Behind the triple European champion, Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham & Essex Beagles) and Daryll Neita (Jonas Dodoo, Shaftesbury Barnet) won silver and bronze with 11.29, a season’s best, and 11.30 respectively.
Post-race Asher-Smith said:
“I’m happy to have got the win and lower the championship record considering the headwinds. 11.03 to 10.97s is a big drop, normally it’s a couple of hundredths but I’m not complaining.
“When you have two rounds in a day, you run them like they’re world championships semis and finals. You have to run for each and every place.”
Shortly after Asher-Smith’s heroics, an impassioned performance from Ojie Edoburun in the men’s 100m won him the British title and automatic selection for the World Championships in Doha by mere thousandths of a second
Fending off favourite Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet) and sub-10 men Adam Gemili (Rana Reider, Blackheath & Bromley) and CJ Ujah (Jonas Dodoo, Enfield & Haringey), Edoburun’s explosive start and sheer determination to hold on to the title saw him dip for gold millimetres ahead of the aforementioned duo.
“I felt it was mine for the taking and I knew that,” said Edoburun.
“I kept composed, felt a bit of cramp towards the end but held my own and couldn’t care less because I’ve got the medal and that’s the important thing.”
It was the first time ever that the three medallists all recorded the same time, with 10.18 being awarded to the silver medallist Gemili and the bronze medallist Hughes.
Similarly exciting was the close battle between European indoor medallist, Tim Duckworth (Liverpool Harriers; Toby Stevenson), and four-time British champion, Dan Bramble (Shaftesbury Barnet; Jonas Dodoo), in the men’s long jump, with the former trailing by 1cm ahead of his final jump.
In that final jump Duckworth remarkably equalled Bramble’s best effort of 7.92m – a season’s best for the decathlete, which lifted him into first place on countback. That meant that the pressure was on Bramble to regain his lead with the last jump of the competition.
Although he came close, Bramble’s final leap of 7.85m wasn’t quite enough for the gold, as Duckworth emerged as the winner with home favourite Feron Sayers (Birchfield Harriers; Aston Moore) jumping a wind-assisted 7.82m for bronze.
There was very little to choose between the medallists in the men’s high jump too. Allan Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) claimed his first British outdoor title to go with his indoor golds from 2017 and 2015 thanks to a season’s best clearance of 2.25m.
However, much like the men’s 100m a trio of medallists finished with the same mark. That mark was the 2.22m jumped by the silver medallist, Chris Baker (Sale Harriers Manchester; Graham Ravenscroft) and joint bronze medallists, Tom Gale (Team Bath; Denis Doyle) and William Grimsey (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies; Carol Jackson). For Grimsey, 2.22m also proved to be an equal personal best.
Contrastingly, the men’s 5000m resulted in a dominant win for Olympic and world finalist Andy Butchart, who was the victor in 13:54.29 and is now another confirmed to be selected for the World Championships along with Marc Scott (Richmond & Zetland), who came second in 14:01.48, with Ben Connor (Steve Vernon, Derby) clinching bronze in 14:04.33.
Buoyed by recent performances that have now seen him revise his lifetime best and claim yet another British title, Butchart spoke afterwards:
“When everyone’s looking at you, I guess there is a bit more pressure. Nothing really happened in the race, it just played into my hands so itwas quite nice to get the win and come away with what I was
“A confident mindset in the past few races I’ve had has definitely helped me. I’ve had good races all year this year but I’ll be trying to get even fitter and hopefully will go into Doha even more confident.
Medals are always up for grabs.”
Rio 2016 fourth-placer, Cindy Ofili (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies), also had a dominant win as she continued her strong return from injury this season. She stopped the clock in 13.09, but the strong headwind of -1.6 m/s demonstrated that more favourable conditions can see the 2016 Olympic fourth placer go quicker.
Behind Ofili, Alicia Barrett (Chesterfield; Toni Minichiello) and Yasmin Miller (Derby; Robert Smith) both clocked 13.40 for silver and bronze respectively.
Beside the back straight Harry Coppell ) was the victor in the men’s pole vault with a stunning 5.71m clearance – a Doha qualifier, a 10cm improvement on his previous lifetime best and an equal championship record.
Immediately after clearing that height and landing on the mat, Coppell was mobbed by an excitable trio of other pole vaulters who were clearly delighted to see their counterpart succeed.
Coppell credited his recent performances with a change of coach, saying:
“I came into this feeling good and felt like [he’d] been finding some form through the season but it had to be on the day and it’s an amazing feeling to put it together.”
Jax Thoirs (Glasgow City; Colin Sinclair) was the silver medallist with a 5.56m vault and Adam Hague (Sheffield & Dearne; Trevor Fox) clinched the bronze with 5.46m.
The first athlete today to book a ticket to Doha was Sophie McKinna (Great Yarmouth; Mike Winch), who added to her British indoor title from earlier this year with a 17.97m throw bettering Amelia Strickler’s (Thames Valley; Zane Duquemin) 17.09m and Divine Oladipo’s (Blackheath & Bromley; John Hillier) 16.38m.
In the last field event of day, Naomi Ogbeta cemented her dominance by retaining her title with a sixth-round leap of 13.87m. Angela Barrett (Thames Valley; Frank Attoh) managed a season’s best 13.22m for second and Mary Fasipe (Enfield & Haringey; Guy Spencer) surpassed her personal best twice to finish third, with the best of the two being her second round jump of 13.07m.
Another talented field eventers, and the reigning British universities champion, Harry Hughes (Newham & Essex Beagles; Mark Roberson), showed his class as he won the men’s javelin as a result of his 75.11m throw. Hughes was followed by Joe Dunderdale (Sheffield & Dearne) in the silver medal position, who threw 70.57m, and Gavin Johnson-Assoon (Thames Valley; Piotr Spas) in bronze, who managed 67.25m with his best throw.
The quarter-mile events are all brilliantly poised going into the second day of the championships thanks to the extremely tough qualification in their heats that saw just the winner of each heat progress automatically, with ‘non-fastest auto qualifier’ times making up the rest of those set to line up tomorrow.
Unfazed by any potential banana skins were Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey; Christine Bowmaker), Emily Diamond (Bristol & West; Benke Blomkvist) and Amy Allcock (Aldershot, Farnham & District; Glyn Hawkes) who won their women’s 400m heats by large margins in 52.45, 52.46 and 53.49 respectively.
Meanwhile, in the second heat Zoey Clark (Thames Valley) just about held on to run a season’s best of 52.18 to edge out rising star Yasmin Liverpool (Coventry Godiva), whose personal best time of 52.49 ensures she is the quickest of the four non-fastest auto qualifiers progressing to the final tomorrow.
The women’s 400m heats also signalled returns to form for international medallists Mary Abichi (Enfield & Haringey; Lloyd Cowan) and Perri Shakes-Drayton (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) who both ran season’s bests to join Liverpool and Ama Pipi (Enfield & Haringey) as time qualifiers for the final. Abichi’s time was an impressive 52.66, while Shakes-Drayton ran 53.13.
The women’s 400m hurdles heats proved to be much closer affairs, with the exception of last year’s European bronze medallist Meghan Beesley (Birchfield Harriers; Michael Baker) who cruised home to a 57.05 win in heat four.
The other heat winners were Jess Turner (Amber Valley & Erewash; Nick Dakin), Lauren Thompson (Herts Phoenix; Colin Gaynor) and Jessie Knight (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow; Marina Armstrong) in times of 56.49, 57.76 and 57.44.
In the men’s heats, Matt Hudson-Smith (Birchfield Harriers) was by far the most impressive in the 400m flat and understandably appeared at home on the Alexander Stadium track as he strode towards the line in 45.93.
Hudson-Smith gave a balanced assessment of his race afterwards:
“That was comfortable, I didn’t get out how I wanted to but I finished strong. I’m trying to run myself into shape. I don’t know how I’ll prepare for the final. There are things to work on. I was too relaxed on the back straight but I slowed down towards the end. Every 400m I run is different, and I need to assess where I’m at.”
In terms of the other heat winners, Dwayne Cowan (Hercules Wimbledon; Lloyd Cowan) fought off young gun Ethan Brown (Blackheath & Bromley; Lloyd Cowan) to win the first heat in 46.66, Cameron Chalmers (Guernsey; James Hillier) edged out Lee Thompson (Sheffield & Dearne; John Henson) to win his heat in 46.48 and Rabah Yousif (Newham & Essex Beagles; Carol Williams) came through strongly in the home straight to win the last heat in 46.18.
A man who has seen many a British championships, Martyn Rooney (Nick Dakin, Croydon) produced a 46.42 season’s best for second behind Yousif.
In 400m hurdles action, Chris McAlister (Thames Valley; Marina Armstrong) showed why he’s taken more than a second off his personal best this year as he won the last of the heats comfortably in 50.85.
Jacob Paul, who won the penultimate heat in 50.28, is likely to be McAlister’s closest contender, but Efe Okoro (Birchfield Harriers; Tony Hadley) and Alastair Chalmers (Guernsey; James Hillier) were equally impressive in their heat wins.
The opening action of the day, 11-times Scottish champion Kirsty Law (Sale Harriers Manchester; Zane Duquemin) picked up the first gold medal of the championships as she upgrading her silver from last year by winning hold with a throw of 54.23m.
A mere 23cm separated her from the eventual silver medallist, Amy Holder (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow; Neville Thompson), while Shadine Duquemin’s (Shaftesbury Barnet; Zane Duquemin) fourth round attempt of 53.23m secured her the bronze.
Fellow thrower, Jessica Mayho (Birchfield Harriers) won gold medal in the hammer throw thanks to her 64.79m throw. She was joined on the podium by Annabelle Crossdale (Notts; Barry Hawkworth) and Pippa Wingate (Kingston & Poly), with the former producing a best effort of 61.95m and the latter throwing 58.85m.
The duo of Rosie Clarke (Epsom & Ewell; David Harmer) and Elizabeth Bird (Shaftesbury Barnet; George Harrison) led the women’s 3000m steeplechase from gun to tape, with reigning champion Clarke doing enough to hold off Bird over the last 100m to prevail in 9:46.66, three tenths quicker than Bird who took silver.
Both athletes hold the qualifying mark for Doha and will now have all eyes on preparation ahead of September’s championships.
Aimee Pratt (Sale Harriers Manchester; Vincente Modahl) continued her impressive season with a bronze medal in a time of 9:53.24.
The middle-distance heats concluded the day of athletics, with Kyle Langford (Shaftesbury Barnet; Jon Bigg), Guy Learmonth (Lasswade; Henry Gray), Alex Botterill (City of York; Andrew Henderson) and Elliot Giles (Birchfield Harriers; Jon Bigg) taking the victories in the men’s 800m).
In the women’s equivalent, Lynsey Sharp (Edinburgh AC; David Harmer), Hannah Segrave (Middlesbrough Mandale; Chris Layne), Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow; Jon Bigg) and Alexandra Bell (Pudsey & Bramley; Andrew Henderson) won each of their heats to seal quailification.
Botterill springing a surprise on the European indoor silver medallist Jamie Webb (Liverpool Harriers; Adrian Webb) by winning his heat in 1:48.45 was a particular highlight of those heats, and both can look forward to a rematch in the final.
Meanwhile, in the men’s 1500m there were heat wins for the trio of Josh Kerr (Edinburgh AC), Jake Wightman (Edinburgh AC; Geoff Wightman) and Charlie Da’Vall Grice (Brighton Phoenix; Jon Bigg), while Sarah McDonald (Birchfield Harriers; David Harmer) and European Under-23 champion, Jemma Reekie (Kilbarchan; Andy Young), won the two women’s races.
As 5 men and 6 women have the qualifying standard, both finals will be fiercely competitive come the final tomorrow, with other finals on the second and final day including the women’s long jump, men’s 200m, women’s pole vault and men’s hammer among others.
Tickets for tomorrow’s action can be purchased from the box office on site at the Alexander Stadium, with action covered on both the British Athletics Twitter account and via the live feed text service on the British Athletics website.