Nicola Hood (Nithsdale AC) gave the UK’s small but growing band of female steeplechasers a record-breaking fillip at the start of the new season.
At a meeting at Glasgow’s Scotstoun Stadium, she lowered the Scottish Under 20 Women’s 2000m steeplechase record to 7.24.00, a big improvement on her best last summer of 7:39.50, achieved at the end-of-season Under 20 Match at Abingdon.
The latest prospective addition to the UK’s senior steeplechasers, Helen Clitheroe (Preston Harriers) was second in the Great BUPA Ireland Run Women’s 10km in Dublin in 33 minutes 17 seconds. AAA 3000m steeplechase champion Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield) was fourth in 34:14 only a fortnight after her fabulous run into 15th place at the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa. Yet another ‘chaser, Victoria Mitchell (Australia) won in 33:06.
Clitheroe led through the first 7km before Mitchell, the reigning USA National Collegiate 3000m steeplechase champion, broke away.
Another of the Norwich Union GB team in Mombasa, Jason Ward (Altrincham) led home the UK contingent in the Men’s 10km, finishing eighth in 30:34, one place and 12 seconds ahead of marathon international Tomas Abyu (Salford). Abraham Chebii (Kenya) won in 28:47, 13 seconds ahead of Craig Mottram (Australia).
A week before the Flora London Marathon, hot weather in Europe foiled UK athletes seeking to attack the World Championships entry standard of 2:31:00. Natalie Harvey (South London Harriers) did not finish the Paris Marathon and Wendy Jones (Cirencester AC) battled to the bitter end of the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon in 2:45:00. “Conditions were roasting,” said Bud Baldaro, UK Event Coach for the marathon.
Over in the USA, Barbara Parker (City of Norwich AC) took 5 seconds off her her 1500m in winning in 4:18/86 at the Seminole Classic at Florida State University.
And Charlotte Browning (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) began a long-overdue comeback by clocking 4:22.22 for fourth place in a 1500m at the Mt SAC Relays.
Arguably the field event of the weekend was produced by Matti Mortimore (Ipswich Harriers) at the JavFest at Eton.
Mortimore, who is coached by former international Nigel Bevan, broke the 13 and 14 year javelin age best by reaching 58.31m - a massive improvement on his PB last year of 42m.
Bevan reports: "His mum is Finnish and he seems to have captured the Finnish knack of being able to throw the spear! He's the best kid I have ever seen at his age, something that a few others have echoed. He can just carry on with his school sport and do some technical stuff with me for the ext few years and let him grow naturally rather than over-train him at a young age - a mistake that many of our young throwers make in my humble opinion!"
There was even more spear brilliance from Enfield and Haringey’s Lee Doran who rounded off winter training in superb style in Tunisia. Competing against the cream of local talent as well as Dutch opposition, the John Davies-coached thrower triumphed in Sousse, with a PB of 73.75m.
The mark is a 1.69m improvement on the 22-year-old athlete’s previous best and just 1.25m short of the UK Athletics entry guideline for July’s European Under 23 Championships in Debrecan, Hungary.
If you are aware of a highlight that should be added to this weekly round-up, please email the details to UK Athletics Communications Officer Trevor Frecknall at firstname.lastname@example.org