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world class performances at Aviva UK Trials

Holly Bleasdale

 

12 February 2012

On the second day of action at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield, there were world class performances from both Holly Bleasdale and Jessica Ennis as they secured significant victories in the pole vault and hurdles respectively.

Ennis (Toni Minichiello), buoyed by yesterday’s high jump performance, proved just as apt clearing the three foot, three inch obstacles, and put in two remarkably consistent performances.

First, she flew to a personal-best-equalling 7.95 secs in her semi final, a time which placed her equal fifth in the world rankings this year. She then improved that to a personal best 7.94 in the final, to rank fourth best globally.

Reflecting on her weekend’s work the Sheffield athlete was clearly delighted:

“We’ve been doing a lot of work on my starts, so just trying to work on getting out the blocks quicker than I have done in the past and it seems to be working so I’m really pleased.
 
“I’m really, really happy with the weekend, it’s promising and it shows that training has gone well over the winter.”

Holly Bleasdale (Julien Raffalli) did not disappoint the expectant crowd when taking the UK Indoor pole vault title, and showed her determination to push high standards when entering the competition and clearing at 4.52m.

The UK record holder then progressed to clear 4.70m before having three solid attempts at a new UK record of 4.89m.

It showed how far the talented youngster had come in a year with her 2011 winning height of 4.36 dwarfed by today’s concise series.

“I was really pleased with my performance.  I’ve said all along that I just want consistency in my competitions, so to jump a 4.70m is really pleasing. In my mind I’ve wanted to do 4.70s and 4.75s every time I go out,” she said.
“Of course I would have loved to have broken the record right at the end there, but I'm just looking forward to Birmingham next weekend now.”
In second place, Bleasdale’s training partner British Junior record holder Katie Byres (Raffalli) set a new age group mark clearing 4.37m to continue her own impressive progression in the event.

In the men’s 60m final there was a win for Dwain Chambers in 6.58, but he was pushed all the way to the line by Sale youngster Andy Robertson (Sam Robertson), who set a lifetime best of 6.61 in second to pip Harry Aikines Aryeetey (Michael Khmel).

However the defending World Indoor champion, taking his fifth national indoor 60m title,
Was firmly focussed on the championships ahead:

“I was confident as all athletes should be; I just wanted to make sure I executed my job as well as possible.  I’m pleased just to be given the opportunity to race and I’m still enjoying it.
 
“In Istanbul I’m going to be confident that I can retain my title. I’m going to have strong competition, I believe Asafa Powell may be there, you never know who may turn up and put out a good performance on the day. I’m just going to go there and try and defend.

In the men’s 60m hurdles final there was initial disappointment for spectators as Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold) was disqualified for a false start, but joy for 19-year old Andy Pozzi as he stormed to his first national senior title.

Pozzi (Arnold) who had bagged another World Indoor qualifying standard on his way to the final with a 7.64 in winning his heat, further improved with his final victory in 7.63.

“I was actually really pleased with that run. It was a clean run, I didn’t seem to hit any hurdles too hard. I’ve equalled my PB and felt like it was a really good race,” he said.
 
“I’m going to go to Istanbul for my first Indoor World Championships now and am really looking forward to that. That should be a good experience and hopefully I can do well over there.”

In a similar fashion, the much anticipated three-way battle between Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker), Jodie Williams (Mike McFarlane) and Jeanette Kwakye (Michael Afiliaka) in the women’s 60m was sadly not to be when Philip was also eliminated for a false start at the semi final stage.

Yet the final was still a fascinating line up with Abi Oyepitan (Tony Lester) and Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) having shown swift form in qualification.

However Kwakye was still the class act and her 7.20 victory ahead of Williams second in 7.29 and Laura Turner (Christie) with 7.42 bodes well for her in the approach to the World Indoors in Istanbul next month.

“It was nice to come out here and win. I hadn’t won a 60m here for a while so it was nice to come here and pick up a title. I’ll hopefully get a few more good races in before the World Indoors and hopefully then the Olympics, she said.
 
“Istanbul is something that I’ve discussed with my coach, I’m looking forward to it and technically I’ve got a few things that I need to sort out there.”

In the women’s 800m final, it was a vintage Marilyn Okoro (Ayo Falola) approach to tactics as she took the title leading from gun to tape.

Okoro – no stranger to pushing on the pace and building an early lead, used the run as a training effort to test her strength over a fast 600m, and held on bravely over the final lap to take the UK title in 2:04.01, ahead of Tara Bird (Falola) with 2:05.00.

After, she said: “I’m really happy to have three out of three wins in 2012. That’s what it’s all about. I missed a lot of racing over the last couple of years with injury, so it’s nice to be back out there dominating the races I’ve been involved in.

“I think I’ve been eased back into the indoors now and it’s the time for me to start running fast. I'm going to have to if I want to go to the World Indoor Championships, which I do.”
In the men’s final, Joe Thomas (Arwyn Davies) repeated his superb form from the Aviva International Match, blasting away from the field midway to put in a substantial gap and easing light-footed to a dominant victory in yet another personal best time of 1:47.25 – despite not having a fast time in his plans:

“Today it was just all about winning. I went really slow through the first 200m and completely switched off time-wise. I didn’t realise how fast I was going until the home straight. I guess the consistency is there, that’s the main thing,” he said.

In the women’s 400m final, Shana Cox (Lloyd Cowan) won in 52.38 ahead of Nadine Okyere (Joe Caines) and Nicola Sanders (Tony Lester) as the battle for World Indoor relay slots hotted up amongst the two-lap specialists.

The men’s final proved a rip roaring affair with Nigel Levine (Linford Christie) looking very impressive in holding off Michael Bingham (Kevin Tyler) for a second consecutive UK title in a swift 46.28. Former title-holder Richard Buck finished fast for third place in 47.10.

Levine said: “I don’t always get the recognition but it makes me more determined. This is what I train for; this is what I'm all about!”
 
“I’m working with Linford Christie now and I’ve got great support from my training partners Luke Lennon-Ford, Richard Strachan, Conrad Williams, they’re all good quality guys that push me on.”
 
The first title of the day went to Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) in the women’s long jump. It was a crowd-pleasing competition as Proctor came within 2cm of the UK indoor record with her 6.68m leap, whilst further back in the field, Abigail Irozuru (Larry Achike) set a lifetime best mark of 6.44m for second place.

Proctor said: “It was very important to get the crowd behind me today – that’s what I’m looking forward to this season, getting the crowd behind me so I’ve know I’ve got that support and I’m looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd again this summer.
 
“It was good out there today and congratulations to Abigail, she was a great competitor.”

The women’s 3000m final enabled specialists across all distances from 1500m to half marathon to convene in an exciting 15-lap spectacle where World 1500m silver medallist Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) sprinted to victory ahead of Katrina Wootton (Andy Hobdell) in second.

Road specialist Gemma Steel (John Nuttall ) had worked hard from the front from the gun but with 300m to go, the middle distance experts headed to the front and a last lap burn up resulted in England crossing the line in 9:06.04.

In the men’s 1500m final, Lewis Moses (John Nuttall) pipped James Brewer (Craig Winrow) to the title to cross the line in 3:45.58 for the national title, whilst the women’s race was won by Claire Gibson (Derek Parker), just shy of the 4:14 world indoor qualifying time with her winning personal best time of 4:17.38

Finally, in the field the men’s high jump title went to Samson Oni (Trevor Llewelyn) ahead of the in-form Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed), with Oni clearing 2.26m to Grabarz’s best of 2.23m. There was also a national title for JJ Jegede in the men’s long jump – his victory coming courtesy of a third round 7.96m jump.


Flashquotes archive can be found here http://www.uka.org.uk/media/flashquotes-archive/

UKA provide reports from each of the weekend’s sessions via  www.uka.org.uk and quotes from the top performers as well as regular updates via twitter www.twitter.com/@uka_athletics  and Facebook www.facebook.com/UKAofficial

For full results visit: http://www.uka.org.uk/results/20120211_Sheffield/timetable/index/index.html