The world’s top ranked heptathlete of 2014 Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Mike Holmes, Liverpool Harriers) and the world’s top junior multi-eventer, Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake, WSEH), gave the Sheffield crowds plenty to cheer about on the first day of competition at the 2015 Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships on Saturday 14 February.
In a thrilling high jump competition, it was Johnson-Thompson who came out on top, safely retaining the title she won twelve months ago with a first time clearance of 1.97m, a new British record.
Lake, the world junior high jump champion, set a new British indoor junior record at the EIS venue, clearing 1.94m for silver, enough to secure a place alongside Johnson-Thompson in the GB & NI team for the European Indoor Championships in Prague next month. Both athletes may of course opt to compete in the pentathlon.
“I’m glad to jump a PB but I can’t believe I’m a little disappointed to jump 1.97m,” said Johnson-Thompson.
“I’m glad to jump it on the first attempt though with space. I think it is the big 2.00m on the board which puts you off a little bit. It’s been a while since I’ve done the high jump so it’s good to get into competition.”
Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo, Enfield & Haringey) also booked his place on the GB & NI team bound for the Czech Republic, with a convincing victory in the 60m. The 2013 European Junior champion looked in terrific form as he cruised through the heats, dipping over the line in the final to match his semi-final time of 6.57.
Silver went to Ujah’s training partner Sean Safo-Antwi (Tawiah-Dodoo, Enfield & Haringey) in 6.66, whilst Roy Ejiakuekwu (Sale Harriers) set a new personal best of 6.72 to take bronze.
“I’m going to tune up for the European Indoors now after that today,” said Ujah.
“I stumbled a little bit at the start and looked up at the clock at the end to see what the time was like but I’m happy with that. I was praying to run well here today.”
World junior 100m champion Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) stormed home to take the 60m title to add to the 200m gold she won last year. Her 7.15 clocking is comfortably inside the qualifying time for the European Indoor Championships, having earlier cruised through the heats and semi-finals.
“I’m feeling really good but I was hoping to run a faster time but I’ve had the flu,” explained Asher-Smith.
“I’m very happy and I can’t really complain. I’m excited and eager to go faster and to do my best in Prague. I had a fever last night but sprinting is ok as you don’t breathe that much.”
Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold, WSEH) continued his impressive run of form in the 60m hurdles, having set a new personal best of 7.59 last week in France. The 24-year-old clinched the British title in 7.69, with David Omoregie (Mike Guest, Cardiff) securing silver in 7.78.
“I’m pleased to win here and David ran really well; it’s great for the future of British Athletics. I’m going to take each round in Prague as it comes, I’m not complacent,” said Clarke.
Lee Emanuel (Joe Franklin, City of Sheffield) lived up to his bidding as the fastest going in to the men’s 3,000m final, hitting the front with 100m to go. The 30-year-old sprinted home in 8:03.92, even finding time to celebrate as he crossed the line.
“Winning the British Championships is brilliant – that’s what I came to do so it is a bit of a relief. The time was irrelevant as I ran the qualifying standard last week so I just wanted to win. I ran tactically and aimed to run the last 1km hard.”
In the women’s pole vault Commonwealth Games silver medallist Sally Peake (Scott Simpson, Birchfield Harriers) improved on her third place finish at last year’s British Indoor Championships to take the title as the only athlete to clear 4.25m.
“It feels really good to become the British champion. I’ve been working on a few things in training and trying to build them up during competition and it was a bit better today so we are getting there. The crowd were really good and very supportive which was awesome. I’m competing in Birmingham (Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix) next week and the crowd is always brilliant there too, so I’m really excited about that.”
Long jump silver medallist in 2014, Dan Bramble (Frank Attoh, Shaftesbury Barnet) saved his best until last to clinch gold this year, leaping a new personal best 7.90m with his sixth attempt to secure the win just 3cm ahead of Julian Reid (Aston Moore, Birchfield Harriers).
Nigeria’s Tosin Oke (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies) secured a record-equalling fifth victory in the men’s triple jump. The 34-year-old led from his first attempt (16.29m), then bettered that with his penultimate effort – hop, skip and jumping to 16.59m to seal the win ahead of Nathan Fox (Attoh, Shaftesbury Barnet) who saved his best until last, jumping 16.25m to take the gold medal as the top placed Briton.
“It’s my first British Championship gold so I’m ecstatic to take the win and come out on top,” said Fox.
“I put on a good show but I need to get the qualifying standard for Prague next. I had a jump close to that mark in the second round but it was a foul so I need to go out and just do it.”
Eden Francis (Glenys Morton, Birchfield Harriers) secured her fourth shot put title with a final round throw of 16.50m to hold off Shaunagh Brown (John Hillier, WSEH) and Sophie Mckinna (Great Yarmouth).
Nigel Levine (Linford Christie, WSEH) will be hoping for a record fifth 400m national title after qualifying comfortably for Sunday’s final, whilst Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt, Birchfield Harriers) won the other semi-final.
In the women’s 400m qualifiers, Welsh champion Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball, Trafford) controlled both her heat and semi-final to progress to Sunday’s finals as the one to beat. Laura Maddox (Colin Bovell, Swansea) won the other semi-final.
In the 800m heats, USA athlete Samuel Ellison and Paul Goodall (Alasdair Donaldson, City of Norwich) both clocked 1:52.12 but it’s Ellison who goes through to Sunday’s final. 2014 silver medallist Guy Learmonth (George Gandy, Lasswade) – the fastest qualifier in 1:49.78 – won heat two, whilst Mukhtar Mohammed (Sheffield RC) won the final heat.
Seven-time British champion Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter, Wigan AC) lay down her marker in the women’s 800m heats, quickly pulling well clear of the field in heat one to qualify in 2:04.56. The 33-year-old British record holder has kicked off the year in superb form, leading the world rankings, and will provide tough competition for her fellow finalists.
“I really feel in the shape of my life,” said Meadows.
“I’ve had a good solid winter of training and today I felt brilliant. I was quite shocked to start off so quickly but I took my foot off the gas near the end and enjoyed myself.”
In the men’s 1,500m Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg, Brighton Pheonix) and Steve Mitchell (James Thie, Bristol & West) won their heats, whilst in the women’s event, Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill and Alison Leonard (Bud Baldaro, Blackburn Harriers) both came out on top in their qualifiers.
At the halfway point, Shaftesbury Barnet & Birchfield Harriers lead the men’s and women’s Club:Connect competition, by virtue of each top eight athlete picking up points.
Full results can be found here: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-indoor-british-champs/athlete-information/
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