03 March 2012
London North Lions roared to victory on home soil at the second McCain Indoor City Challenge of 2012, thus sealing the overall victory in the two match competition. Opening match winners Sheffield Flames were burning brightly in the lead for much of the match, but could not see off the challenge of the North London contingent, who stormed ahead after victories in both relays.
The beauty of this competition is that it caters for both international and developing athletes, with all athletes focused on producing their best and gaining maximum points for their team. Across the two matches in 2012, a record 79 pbs were set, showing the effect the concept is having on raising the quality of indoor athletics within the UK.
Nadia Williams (Peter Stanley) was one of the standout performers for the Lions, winning the triple jump with a leap of 13.44m. A regular competitor in the City Challenge, the Great Britain international was quick to praise the series. She said: “It was a great way to end the indoor season, as I always get good vibes competing for my city in a team competition. Today highlighted what I need to work on before the outdoor season.”
Others to take top honours for the winning team included Emma Perkins (Fayyaz Ahmed) who shared the top spot in the high jump with Isobel Pooley, both athletes clearing 1.80m, Richard Alleyne (Martey Newman) in the 60H (7.95) and Phyllis Agbo (Julie Hollman) in the Combined Events Challenge.
Arguably the most impressive performance of the afternoon came from 40-year-old Anthony Whiteman (Sheffield Flames), who set a world veteran’s record of 3:44.12 when taking victory in a high quality 1500m. The former Olympian arranged with Newcastle Angel’s Ross Murray (Craig Winrow) to share the pace and help each other to fast times and Whiteman got his tactics exactly right to come away a clear winner from Murray (3:46.16).
He said: “Ross took the first laps out at the right pace and I took the next two. He did a great job taking over at 800, which gave me a little rest and meant I could attack again strongly. The main thing was to go away knowing that I couldn’t have done any more. I am trying to instil this approach into the youngsters I help.”
Samson Oni (Trevor Llewellyn) honed his preparation for the World Indoors next weekend, by repeating his victory from the first match in the high jump for the South London Sharks with 2.21m. Although dissatisfied with the height, he was happy with his day’s work. “I went back to some hard training the past few weeks, but wanted a warm up competition for Istanbul and it was good to get myself back in competition mode”, he explained.
Conrad Williams (Linford Christie) sharpened up for this 4x400 outing in Istanbul by taking the 200 in 21.55 for the Sharks. He was quick to praise the McCain series . He said: “The competition works well in that it serves different purposes depending on the level of the athlete. Elite athletes can use it as training to prepare for bigger events, whilst the developing athletes can benefit from racing against the top guys.”
The Sharks also enjoyed victory in the men’s and women’s shot competitions, courtesy of Scott Rider (John Hillier) and Shaunagh Brown (John Hillier). Rider’s 18.43m saw off the challenge of Ryan Spencer-Jones (Self-coached) who put a pb of 18.10 for second, whilst Brown broke through the 16m barrier for the first time when throwing 16.01m in the final round to defeat Glasgow Cobra’s Alison Rodger (Mark Proctor).
Another popular winner was Louise Bloor (Toni Minichello) in the 200m. Having taken victory in the opening match and been an ever-present at the City Challenge since the competition began, the Sheffield Flame was determined to cap off an excellent indoor season with a win. The 2012 UK indoor silver medallist won in 24.20 from fellow Great Britain international Helen Pryer (Harry King).
Summing up the ethos of the competition, Bloor noted how the standard of the teams had improved since its inception. She revealed: “A few years ago Sheffield used to be expected to win. Now there is much more competition, which helps motivate me to better performances, as I know that every point counts. The City Challenge has played a big role in my indoor seasons, as it helps give structure to my winter. It is always a good standard and you know that it is going to be run in a professional way.”
Elsewhere, Jax Thoirs (Colin Sinclair) set a Scottish under-20 record of 5.11m when finishing 4th in the men’s pole vault; a competition won by Birmingham Falcon’s Nick Cruchley (Scott Simpson) with 5.31m. Another junior to shine was Sheffield Flame’s Jazmin Sawyers (Tony Williams), who after taking silver in the Winter Youth Olympics bobsleigh, returned to the athletics arena to win the long jump with 5.97m from Birmingham’s Jade Surman (Nick Dakin).
Fast-improving 16-year-old Lucy Bryan (Charles Preston) followed up her participation in the Aviva Grand Prix last month with a 4.05 clearance to take victory, before having three narrow failures at a would be pb of 4.15.
Results will be available in the McCain ICC section.