Callum Priestley, Claire Gibson and Jermaine Mays were the big winners from the McCain UK Challenge Final at the Cardiff International Athletics Stadium. They split the £5000 golden challenge pot after winning their respective events at the series finale on Saturday.
They were eligible for the prize after achieving the highest number of performance points and topping their event rankings following the 43 qualifying events that have taken place throughout the summer. As with every event winner at the final they will also collect £400 for their victory on the day.
In Gibson’s case she will receive another further bonus for doing so with a personal best performance in winning the women’s 800m in 2:01.34, nibbling 0.08 off her previous best. The 26 year old Scot impressively held off the charging GB & NI international Hannah England in a perfectly executed tactical race which saw her wind up the pace at 600m and never relinquish the lead from there.
Gibson said: “It was spot on tonight. I wasn’t sure what the pacemaker was going to do because there was a change of pacemaker at the last minute, so Vicky (Griffiths) and I decided we would take it on and try and do it ourselves, we didn’t think Hannah would take it on, we thought she might sit.
“I knew I was in good shape, training has been going so well. I just needed to put it together. I’m really pleased though, Hannah has run 1:59 and Vicky has run two minutes, so yeah, I’m really pleased.”
The race doubled as part of the BMC Grand Prix Final meeting, in which Jermaine Mays (Kent AC) earned his cut of the cake despite finishing third behind Australia’s Nick Bromley (3:41.47) and GB & NI international Nick McCormick (3:41.47) in the men’s 1500m, neither of whom were part of the McCain UK Challenge Series Final.
20 year old Callum Priestley (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies) crowned a fine season by winning the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.92 (-2.1m/s) to earn his bonus. He said: “I will go to LA for a month or six weeks to train for next year. I’ll put money towards that.
“It’s been a great season for me, but I’m not finished yet, I want to race all through September. I believe there is a 13.4 in there somewhere, so I’m going to see what races I can get in to. I just missed out on Berlin, but I’ve got to use this as motivation for the Commonwealths and Europeans next year.
“This year is my first year with (coach) Lloyd Cowan so I have been getting used to the training and next year I can really progress.”
There was also plenty for other athletes to celebrate. UK Champion Alex Smith (Kingston upon-Hull) continued his fine end-of-season flourish by winning the men’s hammer with a PB of 70.40m over a closely matched field.
Smith said: “I’ve been waiting all season to get 70 metres and it’s finally come. Competition wise, it’s really good at the moment, Mark Dry went 70.81m the other week, so I’ve got one more competition to try and chase that.”
Asked what he will do with the prize he collects for winning his event with a new PB. He said: “I will need four new tyres for my car, I think that for a start and the rest I’m not sure.” Smith’s younger brother GB & NI U20 international Peter also set a new senior PB of 66.38m, which was only good enough for 7th in a high quality competition.
Dale Garland (Channel Islands AC) produced perhaps the individual performance of the day, winning the men's 400m hurdles in a PB of 49.54 despite the breezy conditions. Andrew Osagie (Harlow AC) was another to produced a lifetime performance, overcoming the bold pacesetting of Darren St Clair (Enfield & Haringey) to win in 1:47.15.
Falkirk Victoria’s Jade Nimmo was another to win with a new PB after a dream series in the women’s long jump. Coming into the competition with a PB of 6.14m, she improved it to 6.23m (+1.7m/s) in the third round. She then snatched victory by just 1cm from Sarah Wellstead (Sutton & District) in the final round with a wind-assisted 6.25m (+2.8m/s).
All this has come of the back of 18 months of injury hell from which has meant the 18 year old has only recently returned to long jump. She said: “I was out for a year and half. I had a rehab based winter, so it’s good to be back and jumping the distances and get a personal best. It’s the last competition of the season and I just came here to enjoy it and see if I could get it right.”
She also paid tribute to her coach, former AAAs champion Darren Ritchie. “My coach has kept me motivated, just telling me I have got it in me and it will come out when I come back.” She said.
For full results from the McCain UK Challenge Final click here
For full results from the British Milers Club Grand Prix Final click here