WRITTEN FOR THE BRITISH ATHLETICS WEBSITE
Spectators at the opening day of the Müller British Athletics Championships were treated to two Championship records from Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie; Blackheath & Bromley) and Morgan Lake (Fuzz Caan; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) as the battle for places at the European Championships in Berlin began at an Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
Fresh from victory in Stockholm on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, Asher-Smith scorched to a blistering 10.97 seconds Championship record in taking the 100m crown. The 22-year-old British record holder set at 10.92 in Oslo earlier this month and added to her 2015 victory here with comfortable ease.
The European 200m champion was followed home by world semi-finalist, Daryll Neita (Jonas Dodoo; Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers), who registered a 11.19 season’s best to replicate her 2017 silver medal placing in these Championships.
Asher-Smith explained afterwards:
“I was looking to come here and run a fast time and I was really happy to have been able to do that, especially in front of a British crowd, which is obviously so important to me as I want to run fast at home, so I was happy to do that and take away the title.
“The wind was crazy in the heats so I was just hoping it would die down, because I felt like I was in good shape, and thankfully it did. Across both the men’s and women’s sprint events, the competition is so hot, which obviously bodes well for the Europeans and heading into the next Olympic cycle.”
Commonwealth 200m finalist, Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan; Enfield Harriers) clocked a 11.20 season’s best to take the bronze, while further adrift in fifth position European indoor long jump silver medallist, Lorraine Ugen (Shawn Jackson; Thames Valley) impressed with a 11.32 lifetime best.
Lake put on a fantastic show with a superb 1.97m Championship record-breaking performance, as the 21-year-old grabbed her third consecutive British outdoor high jump crown.
Fourth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships and a silver medallist from the Commonwealth Games, both earlier this year, Lake cleared her lifetime best on the second attempt before attacking the magical two-meter barrier on three occasions but to no avail.
The 2014 world junior champion now has her sights firmly set on a medal in Berlin:
“I had a ropey start but I knew I had it in me. I had a good couple of competitions leading into it and I thought ‘third time lucky’. I had a break after the Commonwealths so I rested and trained hard and I’m really happy with a PB.
“Conditions were perfect for high jumping. I’ll have a little rest before Europeans but it’ll be back into hard training to try and peak in August.”
In the silver medal position, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin; Liverpool Harriers), the world indoor pentathlon champion and Commonwealth heptathlon champion, settled for a best of 1.90m, a season’s best.
Nikki Manson (Giffnock North) set a 1.87m personal best to take the bronze medal.
A hotly-anticipated men’s 100m contest certainly lived up expectations, with Reece Prescod (Jonas Dodoo, Enfield & Haringey) flying away to a fine 10.06 dominant victory.
The 22-year-old world finalist retained his 2017 crown in an eye-catching season which has seen him run 9.88, with an illegal wind, and take the IAAF Diamond League win in Shanghai back in May.
“I feel very relieved. This year was more expectation pressure rather than coming in as a surprise. So to come back here and retain my title I can’t have asked for a better competition.
“I did a lot of travelling at the start of the year, but I felt like it was a really, really good experience racing the world’s best. So coming back here I was used to the intensity of the race, if not quicker.
“With a championships you have got to be smart, you can’t show all your bullets in the first round. So I tend to just try to do the bare minimum just to get through, and then in the final just give all you have got. I learnt a lot from the World Championships last year, so it was about just bringing in that experience and executing the race.”
Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers) clocked 10.13 for silver, weeks after running a 9.91 personal best to record the equal second-fastest time of all-time by a Briton.
In bronze, 2017 IAAF Diamond League winner, CJ Ujah (Stuart McMillan; Enfield & Haringey) registered 10.18 with world fourth placer over 200m, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver; Newham & Essex Beagles) just missing out on a medal in fourth with 10.20.
On the runway, Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson; Blackburn Harriers) flew to her fourth consecutive British outdoor pole vault title with ease, enjoying a first-time 4.60m clearance which was enough to claim her sixth national crown outdoors and tenth overall. The 26-year-old attempted a new Championship record with three attempts at 4.72m but it was not to be.
She said: “I’m really happy. I’m bang in the middle of my season and I really enjoyed the competition. 4.60m is a solid vault for me. It’s nice to get my tenth title. I’ve been looking to regain some composure from the Commonwealth Games and now I just need more time and patience leading into the European Championships.”
Sophie Cook (Ray Webb; Birchfield Harriers) took the silver medal with a 4.25m personal best, as Bradshaw’s training partner, Sally Peake (Simpson; Cardiff) collected bronze with 4.15m.
Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher; Richmond & Zetland) more than made up for finishing just outside of the medals last year with victory in the 5,000m in 13:47.00, to book his ticket on the plane to Berlin.
He was too strong for 2017 winner, Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau; Aldershot, Farnham & District) down the finishing straight, who clocked a 13:47.81 season’s best for the runner-up spot, having already secured his 10,000m place in the team for Berlin.
The bronze medal, meanwhile, went to 2010 British championship victor, Chris Thompson (Alan Storey, AFD), who registered 13:49.85.
Retaining her 100m hurdles title, Alicia Barrett (Tony Minichello; Chesterfield) sped to a comfortable win with a 13.28 clocking.
The 20-year-old Commonwealth finalist and European junior silver medallist came home ahead of Megan Marrs (Jerzy Maciukiewicz; WSEH), who was timed at 13.37 – the same as bronze medallist, Jessica Hunter (Scott Grace; Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers).
Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon; Bracknell) finished one spot up on his 2017 placing with victory in the 3,000m steeplechase and grabbed a European championship spot, clocking 8:33.12 to pip Ieuan Thomas (James Thie; Cardiff), who registered 8:33.88 for silver a year after finishing third.
Back in the field, Brett Morse (Ryan Spencer-Jones; Cardiff) claimed his fourth British title in eight years with a fine 58.90m victory in the discus.
The 29-year-old unleashed his best effort in the fifth round to take the win from Greg Thompson (Neville Thompson; Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers), who threw 58.10m for silver while his teammate, Nick Percy (Vesteinn Hafsteinsson; Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) collected the bronze medal with a 57.26m throw.
Elsewhere, 35-year-old Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore; Oxford City) collected his eighth British triple jump title, adding the outdoor national crown to his 2018 indoor British gold medal, with a windy 16.83 en route to his Berlin appearance.
His best effort arrived in the first round, as did silver medallist, Julian Reid’s (Aston Moore; Sale Harriers Manchester) – with a leap of 16.70. Jonathan Ilori (John Shepherd; Blackheath & Bromley) took bronze.
James Whiteaker (Blackheath & Bromley) was impressive, capturing the men’s British javelin crown by almost four meters with a 71.29m throw in his debut senior season. Joe Dunderdale (Sheffield & Dearne) and Joe Harris (Manx) were second and third respectively.
Naomi Ogbeta (Tim Cullen; Trafford) retained her triple jump title with a fine 13.95m personal best, ahead of local girl, Laura Samuel (Aston Moore, Birchfield Harriers) who jumped 13.75m to claim the silver medal. Ogbeta 13.95m was above the European standard, with her place on the plane to Berlin secure.
The men’s hammer title was claimed by Commonwealth champion, Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson; Border), who threw 75.33m in the fifth round to retain his title from 2017 ahead of his appearance in Berlin.
The silver and bronze medal positions went to Chris Bennett (Mick Jones; Shaftesbury Barnet), who registered 73.29m and Commonwealth bronze medallist, Mark Dry (Woodford Green) who replicated his third placing from last year with a 71.40m effort.
British indoor champion, Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson; City of York) captured his fourth national outdoor title with a 18.44m throw in the shot put. Youcef Zatat (Scott Rider; Woodford Green) took silver with 18.01m whilst Gareth Winter (Zane Duquemin; Gloucester) threw a 17.28m season’s best for the bronze.
Ahead of more finals on Sunday Commonwealth bronze medallist, Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman; Edinburgh) was fastest in the 1500m heats with 3:41.86, while Charles Da’Vall Grice (Jon Bigg; Brighton Phoenix) clocked 3:42.15 and 2017 winner, Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon; Edinburgh) registered 3:44.32.
World semi-finalist, Jess Judd (Mick Judd; Chelmsford) took control of the 1500m heats with a fine 4:15.51 clocking, ahead of European junior champion, Jemma Reekie (Andy Young; Kilbarchan) with 4:15.74 to advance as the two fastest for the final.
Other notable names to progress included Commonwealth 5,000m bronze medallist, Laura Weightman (Steve Cram; Morpeth), who ran 4:16.18 while in the first slower heat, Commonwealth finalists, Sarah McDonald (David Harmer; Birchfield Harriers) and Katie Snowden (Rob Denmark; Herne Hill) advanced with 4:21.74 and 4:21.92, respectively.
World and Olympic finalist, Lynsey Sharp (Mahon; Edinburgh) led the 800m qualifiers for the final with 2:03.02. Double world indoor medallist, Laura Muir (Young; Dundee Harriers) clocked 2:03.15 to also easily progress.
Others to make their mark included world indoor bronze medallist, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Bigg; WSEH), who registered 2:03.69, Adelle Tracey (Craig Winrow; Guildford & Godalming) with 2:03.86 and Alexandra Bell (Andrew Henderson; Pudsey & Bramley) with 2:04.59.
European under-23 silver medallist, Daniel Rowden (Richard Thurston; Woodford Green) led the qualifiers from the men’s 800m heats with a 1:48.90 clocking. He was followed home by Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray; Lasswade) in 1:48.95.
Others to impress included world indoor fourth placer and 2017 winner, Elliot Giles (Bigg; Birchfield Harriers) who ran 1:49.81, Andrew Osagie (Mark Rowland; Harlow) with 1:49.92, Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb; Liverpool Harriers) with 1:50.56 and seven-time British champion, Michael Rimmer (Norman Poole; Liverpool & Pembrooke Sefton) who registered 1:50.70.
Prominent names to progress to the men’s 400m final include Matthew Hudson-Smith (Lance Brauman; Birchfield Harriers), who ran 45.94 to qualify ahead of Dwayne Cowan (Lloyd Cowan; Wimbledon) with 46.31 and Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams; Newham & Essex Beagles), who clocked 46.64.
The big names expected to progress did just that in the men’s 400m hurdles, with Sebastian Roger (Stephen King; Shaftesbury Barnet) leading the way, courtesy of a 50.56 clocking. Jack Green (June Plews; Kent) ran 50.68, whilst Dai Greene (Benke Blomkvist; Swansea Harriers) continued his comeback from injury with 51.14.
The top qualifiers for the women’s 400m final meanwhile are led by Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna; Thames Valley Harriers), who sped to a 52.26 clocking ahead of Laviai Nielsen (Christine Bowmaker; Enfield & Haringey) who recorded 52.41.
Other notable names to advance include Anyika Onoura (Rana Reider; Liverpool Harriers) with 52.65 and Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah; Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) who was timed at 52.93.
Elsewhere, the women’s 400m hurdles final will feature local hope Meghan Beesley (Michael Baker; Birchfield Harriers) who qualified fastest from the heats with 56.99, whilst Jessica Turner (Nick Dakin; Amber Valley) recorded 57.25 to advance. Kirsten McAslan (Michael Baker; Sale Harriers) will be another to watch following her 57.48 qualification.