Shaftesbury Barnet were crowned men’s Club:Connect champions while Birchfield won the women’s prize on the final day of the Sainsbury’s British Championships (Sunday 29 June), topping the points table to each clinch the inaugural outdoor Club:Connect titles and taking home a grant of £500.
Club:Connect was launched at the beginning of this year to reward and recognise the work done by local athletics clubs. With points awarded to clubs in the finals of each event – from eight points for a win down to one point for eighth place – and with a £500 grant for the winners up for grabs, there was plenty at stake.
In the men’s standings, Shaftesbury Barnet notched up an impressive 74 points total after the three days of competition at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham to take top spot ahead of fellow Londoners, Newham and Essex Beagles, who finished runners up with 53 points. Birchfield Harriers finished third with a score of 49.
The two London clubs had ended day two of competition in joint position at the top of table, with both clubs on a score of 25. But a number of notable successes out in the field on the final day helped give Shaftesbury Barnet a vital lead.
Allan Smith clinched the men’s high jump title, clearing 2.24m in his first attempt to get the better of early leader Chris Baker.
“I’ve come off the back of a good block of training but I’m still chasing the European Championships qualifying standard,” said Smith. “I fly off to Germany on Wednesday to try again. This was my first senior British Championships – I won the English U23 Championships in Bedford last weekend.”
There were maximum points too for Zane Duquemin in the discus, with a season’s best 60.38m. The 22-year-old picked up a further seven points as he finished second in the shot put, making him the club’s top individual scorer from the weekend – although he still believes he has more to give.
“I’m a lot happier with that than my shot put earlier,” said Duquemin after sealing gold in the discus. “It was a season’s best but one of my best throws ever, but I thought the conditions were good enough to maybe throw a little further today so I’m a little disappointed.
“I’m now going to try to chase the European Championships qualifying standard in the next two weeks. I’m throwing at the British League in Hendon next week so hopefully, I can get a good distance there.”
Nathan Fox clinched bronze in a thrilling triple jump competition won by Birchfield Harrier Julian Reid. The 23-year-old saved his best until last – hop, skip and jumping 16.59m – just 10cm short of his personal best.
And Gregor MacLean’s fourth place finish in the pole vault picked up a vital five points, with the 22-year-old clearing 5.35m.
Saturday’s action on the track also saw a number of strong performances by Shaftesbury Barnet, with Seb Rodgers finishing third – and picking up six points – in a highly anticipated 400m hurdles, which was won by the in-form Newham & Essex Beagle, Niall Flannery.
Richard Charles showed great promise finishing in fourth place in the men’s 800m in his first senior championship race, whilst Glenn Watts picked up two points with a season’s best in the 3000m steeplechase.
Shaftesbury Barnet won a further 12 pojnts out in the field on Saturday, as Chris Bennett finished fourth in the hammer throw and Dan Bramble took silver in the long jump behind JJ Jegede (Newham & Essex Beagles). Bramble leapt to a season’s best 7.77m, showing a promising return to form in his first competition after two months out with injury, whist Jegede secured himself a seat on the plane to Zurich for the European Championships.
As well as Jegede’s impressive performance in the long jump, Newham & Essex Beagles gained their points courtesy of a series of eye-catching races on the track, led by 400m hurdler Flannery.
The 23-year-old was the first Newham & Essex Beagles club member to collect the maximum eight points after clinching the British title with a superb win ahead of a stellar field including the reigning European Champion, Rhys Williams from Cardiff AAC.
Flannery clocked 49.54 and heads to the European Championships in August.
Commonwealth silver medallist Steve Lewis scored maximum points as he won the pole vault title for the east Londoners, whilst James Ellington’s took bronze in the men’s 200m, and Alex Al-Ameen and Matthew Roberts finished third in the 110m hurdles and high jump respectively, adding a further 18 points between them.
Birchfield Harriers climbed up from fifth place in the overall standings at the end of day two to finish third in the table, with notable performances from European U23 silver medallist Danny Talbot, who beat a stellar field to win the 200m; Julian Reid, who managed a season’s best 16.82m in the triple jump; and 36-year-old Scott Rider who won shot put gold.
Meanwhile two athletes picked up all 16 points scored by Border Harriers over the weekend. Nick Miller and Tom Farrell’s efforts put the club in third position at the end of day two, although they finished up lying eighth overall.
Miller took gold in a thrilling hammer competition, managing 73.96m on his fourth attempt to take the title, whilst Farrell won the 5000m in 13:51.43 – fast enough to make the GB & NI team for the European Championships in August.
Birchfield Harriers topped the women’s points table to clinch the inaugural outdoor title on home turf at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
The Midlands club were quick to pick up points, finishing day two of the competition with a commanding lead, courtesy of a number of impressive performances, including double gold from Eden Francis who triumphed in the shot put and the discus, picking up 16 points all on her own.
“I’m thrilled, it was my furthest throw ever in Birmingham. Discus is all about timing and in this weather, I always struggle to throw 56m but I’m happy with the throw,” said Francis.
Birchfield scored no fewer than 15 points in the pole vault, with Sally Peake earning maximum points as she was crowned British champion – the only athlete to clear 4.30m. Fellow Birchfield athlete Sophie Cook finished in fourth place, with Olivia Curran earning the Midlands club another two points as she cleared 3.65m for seventh place.
Meghan Beesley gave Pitreavie’s Eilidh Child a spirited contest in the 400m hurdles, finishing second behind the Scot in 56.12 to secure her place in the GB & NI team for the European Championships. There were a further five points for Birchfield in that event thanks to Ese Okoro.
“Having two races has wiped me out after having a month off and being on antibiotics. I know what I need to work on, I’ve just got a few more weeks until the major Championships,” said Beesley.
Laura Samuel also finished in silver medal position in her event, the triple jump. The 23-year-old was in the lead with just one jump remaining, only to be pipped to gold by Shaftesbury’s Yamile Aldama in the final round.
With Birchfield well clear at the top of the table with 61 points, the race was on for second place. And it was Sale Harriers who moved up the table in the final day of competition, finishing on 33 points. Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow, took third just three points behind.
Sale Harriers Kelly Massey got the better of World 4x400m bronze medallist Shana Cox (Woodford Green Essex Ladies) in the 400m to take gold – and eight points – for the Manchester club in a time of 52.42, and there was silver for Katie Byres as she cleared a season’s best 4.10m in the pole vault, whilst Kirsty Law took bronze and six club points in the discus.
“I knew it was there in me and I didn’t think it would be fast as it was windy on the back straight. I’m happy with the way I performed out there today,” said Massey.
Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow meanwhile picked up points with notable performances out in the field, including the likes of Rachel Wallader, who finished second behind Eden in the shot put; Morgan Lake, who clinched bronze in the high jump as well as fifth place in the long jump, and Shakira Whight, fourth in the triple jump with a season’s best 12.94m.
For full results head to: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-british-championships/athlete-information/