The Sainsbury’s British Championships got underway in fine style on Friday (27 June) despite the weather threatening to dampen proceedings as the clouds opened over Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
British 800m number one Andrew Osagie (Craig Winrow, Harlow) didn’t let the rain get in the way of his performance as he took the race on at the bell in the second heat of the men’s 800m. The 26-year-old showed he’s in fine form for Saturday’s final, clocking 1:50.73.
“It was good, it was just about getting the job done,” he said.
Richard Charles (Neil Stoddart, Shaftesbury Barnet) stormed through in the inside lane to win the first heat, with Loughborough-based duo Paul Goodall (Alasdair Donaldson, Norwich) and Guy Learmonth (George Gandy, Lasswade) also qualifying.
There was upset however for race favourite and six-times British champion Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg, Liverpool Pembroke Sefton) in the second heat as James Bowness (Bill Parker, Trafford) caught the former European silver medallist in the final 20m, clocking 1:49.52.
The final heat was won by UK Indoor champion Mukhtar Mohammed (Jon Bigg, Sheffield RC) in 1:49.68.
With five athletes already holding the ‘A’ standard in the men’s 400m hurdles, tonight’s heats were sure to entertain. And sure enough, a terrific run by Tom Burton (Nick Dakin, Tamworth) in the opening heat set the standard for what was to come.
The 25-year-old pushed hard down the back straight to take an early lead, and he held on strongly to cross the line ahead of Sebastian Rodger (James Hiller, Shaftesbury Barnet) in 49.77.
“I’m very happy – I’ve come here off the back of a PB so I’m happy with the time. It wasn’t a great technical race but I’m confident I’ll do a good race tomorrow,” Burton said.
In the second heat, all eyes were on Britain’s current number one Niall Flannery (Nick Dakin, Newham & Essex Beagles), who tops the European rankings after a superb victory in Ostrava earlier this month. The 23-year-old was careful to save his best for tomorrow’s final as he eased up over the line in first place with 50.31.
“I just wanted to get the job done and do it professionally – nice and easy off the last hurdles, just coasting it in. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish the job tomorrow,” he said.
Reigning European champion Rhys Williams (Adrian Thomas, Cardiff) also secured his place in the final of the 400m hurdles, winning the third heat in 50.74, whilst Richard Yates (Stephen Ball, City of Sheffield) had to work hard to hold off Benjamin Sumner (Stephen Ball, Enfield & Haringey) in the fourth and final heat in 50.44.
Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie, Enfield & Haringey) made her intentions clear in the opening event of the evening, powering home in the first heat of the women’s 200m to cross the line in 23.26.
“I felt good – it’s still a strange feeling as I’ve been training for 400m. I’m here to win – only the gun and the clock can beat you,” Adeoye said.
European U23 champion Jodie Williams (Christine Bowmaker, Herts Phoenix) ran a terrific bend to take second place with Joey Duck (Matt Elias, Marshall Milton Keynes) in third.
In the second heat it was reigning British champion Anyika Onuora (Rana Reider, Liverpool Harriers) who powered out of the blocks, but she couldn’t hold off in-form Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan, Enfield & Haringey) who pulled away down the home straight to take first place, with Kimberley Baptiste (Matthew Quinn, Crawley) securing the third automatic spot.
The two fastest loser spots went to Rachel Dickens (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) and Charlotte Wingfield (Matt Elias, Cardiff).
There were no surprises in the men’s 200m heats as Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge, Blackheath & Bromley), Danny Talbot (Daniel Cossins, Birchfield Harriers), Chris Clarke (Steve Fudge, Marshall Milton Keynes) and James Ellington (Rana Reider, Newham & Essex Beagles) all secured automatic qualification for Saturday’s final, winning their heats in convincing style.
Gemili was the fastest of the quartet with a season’s best 20.71, going out strongly in the third heat and the 20-year-old has every intention of impressing the crowds as he eyes up the ‘A’ standard when he returns to the track for Saturday’s final.
“I haven’t done a 200m in a while, so I just wanted to blow the cobwebs off, I’ll come back stronger tomorrow. I love running on this track so I’m excited about it,” said the European U23 100m champion.
European U23 200m silver medallist Talbot qualified automatically in the first heat of the men’s 200m, easing up over the final 50m to clock 20.97, while Clarke made it look easy as he led the way round the bend in the second heat, coasting home comfortably to secure automatic qualification with 21.14.
Training partners Nigel Levine (Linford Christie, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) and Conrad Williams Linford Christie, Kent) kicked off the men’s 400m heats with a battle for victory down the home straight.
But Williams managed to hold off the 2013 British champion as the pair dipped for the line. Levine already has the ‘A’ standard after his second place finish in Geneva two weeks ago; Williams meanwhile is determined to secure his place on the GB & NI team for the European Championships in Zurich in August.
“Hopefully I can keep it going – I train for the rounds,” said Williams. “My aim’s just to finish in the top two [in the final] to make sure that I’m on that plane.”
Former European 400m bronze medallist Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider, Croydon) and Michael Bingham (George Williams, Birchfield Harriers) have also achieved the ‘A’ standard already this season, and Rooney was quick to lay down his marker in the second heat, storming down the back straight to take a commanding lead as he qualified automatically in 46.72. Bingham also looked in fine form winning his heat in 47.02.
29-year-old Andrew Steele (Chris Zah, Trafford) won heat three, whilst emerging talent Matthew Hudson-Smith, the initial winner, was sadly disqualified after a lane infringement.
The rain, which had been threatening overhead for most of the afternoon, finally fell as the women’s 1500m heats got underway. Laura Dunn (self, Edinburgh) led from the gun but couldn’t hold off former world silver medallist Hannah England (Bud Baldaro, Oxford City) who timed her run to perfection, pulling clear in the home straight to qualify for Saturday evening’s final in first place (4:21.82).
Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) took second, with Rosie Clarke (Tom Watson, Epsom & Ewell) and Morag MacLarty (Derek Easton, Central) also going through.
In the second heat it was Rhianwedd Price (Cardiff) who took up the running with one lap remaining, pulling away from the field to clinch the win ahead of Laura Weightman (Steve Cram, Morpeth), who looked comfortable in second place. Julia Cooke (Buldaro, Cheltenham) and Josephine Moultrie (Parker, Victoria Park) also qualify.
For full results head to: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-british-championships/athlete-information/