Manchester stormed to victory in the first semi-final of the UK Indoor City Challenge at the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, on Sunday 21 January in a match illuminated by another Scottish triple jump record by Gillian Kerr.
While Kerr won an Adidas kit package for the best female performance of the match, Steve Lewis took the male award by improving his pole vault personal best to 5.55m.
The match ended: 1 Manchester 118; 2 Glasgow 115; 3 Sheffield (defending champions) 110; 4 Newcastle 99; 5 Edinburgh 92; 6 Belfast 73.
The leading three are guaranteed places in the final at the EIS, Sheffield, on 18 February. The remaining five finalists will be determined at the second semi-final at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre on Sunday 28 January. Here is how this afternoon’s action unfolded…
New English National indoor pentathlon champion Katia Lannon (Manchester) – a bookie at the famous Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium before she became a sports science student at Brunel University – dodged between long and high jump at the start of the meeting so well that she lived up to her position as favourite in the horizontal competition with 5.83m, within 2cm of her best ever, and took third place in the vertical match with 1.70m, edged out of second place only on count back.
“Long jump was good, high jump not so good because I was doing them at the same time,” reported Lannon. “I did a few high jumps in my long jump spikes and missed two long jumps because I was doing the high jumps. But I love the Challenge. Although it’s high profile, it’s not as pressurised as things like the AAAs. It’s a slightly more relaxing atmosphere.” Later in the afternoon, Lannon also completed the 1500m for Manchester – and received this tribute from her coach and team manager Val Rutter: “She’s a real team player. I’m very proud of her.”
In a match in which each team was allowed to nominate one athlete to score double points, Sheffield’s ‘ace’, Steve Lewis earned them 12 points and moved closer to the European Indoor Championships pole vault elite qualifying height of 5.65m by setting a new PB at 5.55m and missing by the narrowest of margins at 5.61m. On his final attempt, he cleared the bar but then brushed it off with his hand as he began his descent.
“I’m getting there,” said the Commonwealth bronze medallist. “I just need to get my timing right. Once I do that, I’m confident I can clear 5.65.”
UK Challenge outdoor long jump champion Suote Nyanyano scored Newcastle’s first win of the semi-final, leaping out to 6.96m to edge out Stephen Fleming (Edinburgh) by a mere 3cm.
Jenny Meadows, fresh from her world class 600m a fortnight ago, enhanced Manchester’s fine start by time-trialling her way to 400m victory in 54.06 seconds, and was mystified as to why it wasn’t closer to her PB of 52.74. “I’m not even tired,” she said. “I’m in a lot better shape than that!” She gets a chance to demonstrate her true quality over her best distance, 800m, at next weekend’s Norwich Union International at the same venue.
Martin Aram maintained Manchester’s winning roll in the high jump, clearing 2.09m for high jump victory.
Richard Buck scored Sheffield’s first track victory in the men’s 400m in 48.56 seconds in his first indoor race of the season – then confessed: “I don’t think I judged it very well. I was thinking the finish line was at the end of the straight as it is outdoors – it’s just habit. I’ll try and remember next time!” He runs the North of England Champs next weekend followed by the Norwich Union European Trials at Sheffield – “and, with a bit of luck, the Europeans in Birmingham.”
Newcastle’s ‘ace’, Craig Sturrock, also secured double points – and scored his team’s second victory of the day – in the shot, with a PB of 15.87m. It pushed into second place Glasgow’s ‘ace’, Neil Elliott, who reached 15.31m.
Manchester’s other big track favourite, Vicky Griffiths, held off a strong challenge from Newcastle’s Nisha Desai to win the Women’s 800m in a PB of 2:11.63.
Medicine student Nicholas Moore (Glasgow) paid tribute to the two coaches who are prescribing his training sessions after winning the Men’s 800m in a personal best of 1:53.65. The 18-year-old explains that he is still coached at his Glasgow base by John Rodgers at Kilbarchan AAC and looked after by City of Edinburgh’s Dave Campbell while he is studying at the University of Edinburgh. “They’re both good guys, I’m pleased with both of them – and with my form,” he said after holding off Edinburgh’s Andy Brown’s determined finish.
Gillian Kerr improved the Scottish Women’s triple jump record to 12.87m – the fifth time she has set new marks in successive competitions over the past nine days. Yet she was still frustrated that the 13 metre ‘barrier’ remained in a series that went 12.75, 12.87, nj, 11.43m, 12.82m, 12.80m. “I was behind the board with the last one, otherwise I’m sure I’d have been over 13,” she said.
Both of the Women’s 200m heats were won in PBs. Combined eventer Fiona Harrison won the first for Sheffield in 25.24 – but was pipped for maximum points by Rebecca Sweeney, who romped home in the second heat in 25.14 for Manchester.
Kate Dennison completed a double for coach Steve Rippon by winning the Women’s pole vault with a second-time clearance at 4.00m, her opening height.
Scottish Champion Alan Low (Glasgow) won the Men’s 200m in 22.43 seconds. And, at the halfway stage, Manchester led the competition with 70 points followed by Sheffield 61. Newcastle 56, Glasgow 55, Edinburgh 46 and Belfast 37.
Alison Rodger (Glasgow), who won the Women’s shot at the DM Hall Scottish Indoor Championships yesterday, showed better form in scoring maximum points with a put of 14.50m – suggesting the coaching in-put from former Olympian Shaun Pickering is beginning to pay-off.
Northern Ireland sprints record holder Anna Boyle justified her position as Belfast’s ‘ace’ by smoothing to victory in the Women’s 60m in 7.45 seconds.
AAA Under 23 silver medallist Elliot O’Neill (Manchester) was in a class of his own in the Men’s triple jump, winning with 15.51m in the fifth round of a series in which four of his attempts would have been good enough to secure the points. Biggest tale of misfortune of the day befell Leslie Leung (Belfast), who was injured in the warm-up and unable to compete.
The Men’s 60m went to Simon Farenden (Sheffield) in 6.91, seven-hundredths ahead of Tom Martin of Manchester.
Katey Read scored arguably Manchester’s most surprising victory of the day in the Women’s 60m hurdles. She swept home in a PB of 8.53 seconds – an improvement by a full tenth of a second – in holding off World Juniors finalist Zara Hohn (Sheffield), who clocked 8.88. Read changed coaches last year, moving to the group coached at Stoke by former UK Athletics Technical Director for Sprints and Hurdles Graham Knight.
“I’ve been back to the drawing board since September,” said Read, who won the AAA Under 23 title last summer without achieving times of which she felt she should be capable. “It’s good to be in a group rather than training on my own – and it’s nice to see the hard work paying off.”
Her athletics training is only half of the hard work she puts in: away from the track, she is based at Chester University training to become a midwife.
The Men’s 60m hurdles brought Edinburgh their first track victory of the match – achieved by Francis Smith in a time of 8.18, three-hundredths of a second ahead of a PB by long jump winner Nyananyo.
Ellie Stevens ran away with the Women’s 1500m for Sheffield. She clocked 4:35.48 to finish eight seconds clear of her nearest rival in a race of multi-lapping as one or two cities found athletes game enough to complete the distance ‘for a point’.
Kevin Kane won the Men’s 1500m comfortably in 3:54.00 in a race that dramatically cut Manchester’s match lead to six points – the closest Glasgow got to them all day.
The Women’s medley relay ended all speculation that Manchester would be caught. Vicky Griffiths, Becci Nuttall, Carmen Gedling and Rebecca Sweeney carried them to victory in 5:15.69.
With Manchester able to cruise home in last place in the final event, the Men’s medley relay, and still win the match, Glasgow raced to a victory that sealed second place overall and assured them of their place in the final.
60m: 1 Simon Farenden (Sheffield) 6.91; 2 Tom Martin (Manchester) 6.98; 3 Jason Smyth (Belfast) 6.99; 4 Aliu Yusef (Newcastle) 7.05; 5 Ryan Oswald (Edinburgh) 7.07; 6 Craig Fleming (Glasgow) 7.11.
200m: 1 Alan Low (Glasgow) 22.43; 2 Eldridge Phiri (Sheffield) 22.59; 3 Steven Charters (Edinburgh) 22.77; 4 Tom O’Brien (Manchester) 23.04; 5 Daniel Burns (Newcastle) 23.22; 6 Caolan Flanagan (Belfast) 24.38.
400m: 1 Richard Buck (Sheffield) 48.56; 2 David Martin (Glasgow) 49.31; 3 Andy Wilkinson (Manchester) 50.13; 4 Jak Lowdon (Newcastle) 50.48; 5 Craig Robertson (Edinburgh) 51.07; 6 Brendan Murphy (Belfast) 51.36.
800m: 1 Nicholas Moore (Glasgow) 1:53.65; 2 Andy Brown (Edinburgh) 1:53.91; 3 Kevin McCloy (Belfast) 1:54.22; 4 Chris Bryant (Manchester) 1:54.75; 5 Andrew Teate (Newcastle) 1:56.97; 6 Martin Reid (Sheffield) 1:58.57.
1500m: 1 Kevin Kane (Glasgow) 3:54.00; 2 Shaun Moralee (Newcastle) 3:58.56; 3 Chris Watson (Edinburgh) 3:59.93; 4 Michael Dyer (Belfast) 4:04.88; 5 Steven Everson (Sheffield) 4:17.20; 6 Danny Kevan (Manchester) 4:27.73.
60m hurdles: 1 Francis Smith (Edinburgh) 8.18; 2 Suote Nyanyano (Newcastle) 8.21; 3 Neale Kelly (Glasgow) 8.52; 4 Luke Reynolds (Belfast) 8.54; 5 Philip Jarrett (Sheffield) 8.55; 6 Ashley Pritchard (Manchester) 8.95.
High jump: 1 Martin Aram (Manchester) 2.09; 2 Caolan Flanagan (Belfast) 2.06; 3 Wani Mkandawire (Sheffield) 2.00; 4 Daniel Burns (Newcastle) 1.87; 5 Thomas Campbell (Glasgow) 1.87.
Pole vault: 1 Steve Lewis (Sheffield) 5.55; 2 Richard Hurren (Edinburgh) 4.80; 3 Chris Boundy (Newcastle) 4.20; 4 Matthew Dorrian (Glasgow) 4.00; 5 Tom Reynolds (Belfast) 3.82.
Long jump: 1 Suote Nyanyano (Newcastle) 6.96; 2 Stephen Fleming (Edinburgh) 6.93; 3 Jacob Brown (Sheffield) 6.84; 4 Jonathan Ritchie (Belfast) 6.82; 5 Alasdair Strange (Glasgow) 6.46; 6 Ashley Pritchard (Manchester) 6.16.
Triple jump: 1 Elliot O’Neill (Manchester) 15.51; 2 John Carr (Glasgow) 14.93; 3 David Budd (Sheffield) 14.34; 4 Ade Babatunde (Newcastle) 13.90; 5 Anthony Daffurn (Edinburgh) 13.80.
Shot: 1 Craig Sturrock (Newcastle) 15.87; 2 Neil Elliott (Glasgow) 15.31; 3 Carl Fletcher (Manchester) 15.10; 4 Dan Brunt (Sheffield) 14.69; 5 Willie Falconer (Edinburgh) 14.66; 6 Jeremy Harper (Belfast) 13.85.
Medley relay: 1 Glasgow (Matthew Turner, Neil Burnside, Sean Watson, Ali Strange) 4:31.82; 2 Edinburgh (Craig Robertson, Andy Brown, Francis Smith, Steven Charters) 4:36.82; 3 Belfast (Gareth Hill, Michael Dyer, Kevin McCoy, Jason Smith) 4:37.05; 4 Sheffield (Martin Reid, Steve Eveson, Eldridge Phiri, Jacob Brown) 4:39.04; 5 Newcastle (Andrew Teate, Jak Lowden, Daniel Burns, Jared Deacon) 4:44.56; 6 Manchester (Danny Hind, Glen Hamilton, Mark Grimshaw, Tom O’Brien) 4:46.15.
60m: 1 Anna Boyle (Belfast) 7.45; 2 Jennifer Taker (Manchester) 7.59; 3 Vicky Barr (Newcastle) 7.87; 4 Sara Whigham (Glasgow) 7.93; 5 Fiona Harrison (Sheffield) 7.95; 6 Maria Thomas (Edinburgh) 8.35.
200m: 1 Rebecca Sweeney (Manchester) 25.14; 2 Fiona Harrison (Sheffield) 25.24; 3 Sara Whigham (Glasgow) 25.26; 4 Sheona Burns (Newcastle) 25.77; 5 Sarah Quinn (Belfast) 26.02; 6 Nicola Campbell (Edinburgh) 26.36.
400m: 1 Jenny Meadows (Manchesster) 54.06; 2 Vicky Barr (Newcastle) 55.07; 3 Kathryn Evans (Edinburgh) 56.08; 4 Allysa Fullelove (Glasgow) 56.92; 5 Elaine McCaffrey (Belfast) 57.41; 6 Bernice Wilson (Sheffield) 58.55.
800m: 1 Vicky Griffiths (Manchester) 2:11.63; 2 Nisha Desai (Newcastle) 2:11.96; 3 Helen Singleton (Sheffield) 2:14.90; 4 Lynsey Freel (Belfast) 2:16.58; 5 Rebecca Finch (Glasgow) 2:18.86.
1500m: 1 Ellie Stevens (Sheffield) 4:35.48; 2 Kerry Harty (Belfast) 4:43.85; 3 Susan Finch (Glasgow) 5:00.77; 4 Katia Lannon (Manchester) 5:45.81; 5 Nisha Desai (Newcastle) 5:59.94.
60m hurdles: 1 Katey Read (Manchester) 8.53; 2 Zara Hohn (Sheffield) 8.88; 3 Sarah Todd (Newcastle) 9.02; 4 Natalie Doyle (Glasgow) 9.18; 5 Jemma Scott (Edinburgh) 9.50.
High jump: 1 Jayne Nisbet (Edinburgh) 1.78; 2 Erin Leggate (Glasgow) 1.70; 3 Katia Lannon (Manchester) 1.70; 4 Kay Humberstone (Sheffield) 1.65; 5 Claire Wilkinson (Belfast) 1.60.
Pole vault: 1 Kate Dennison (Sheffield) 4.00; 2 Kirsty Maguire (Edinburgh) 3.90; 3 Jennifer Graham (Glasgow) 3.80; 4 Michelle Shorrock (Manchester) 3.60.
Long jump: 1 Katia Lannon (Manchester) 5.83; 2 Fiona Harrison (Sheffield) 5.82; 3 Mandy Gault (Belfast) 5.50; 4 Julie Straker (Newcastle) 5.36; 5 Jemma Scott (Edinburgh) 5.23; 6 Kerry Steele (Glasgow) 5.07.
Triple jump: 1 Gillian Kerr (Glasgow) 12.87; 2 Julia Straker (Newcastle) 11.97; 3 Louise Haston (Edinburgh) 11.79; 4 Hannah Hewitson (Manchester) 11.55; 5 Claire O’Reilly (Sheffield) 11.35.
Shot: 1 Alison Rodger (Glasgow) 14.50; 2 Rebecca Peake (Sheffield) 14.24; 3 Gemma Llewellyn (Manchester) 12.27; 4 Lisa Glover (Edinburgh) 11.62; 5 Clare McAleese (Belfast) 10.80; 6 Claire Reid (Newcastle) 10.68.
Medley relay: 1 Manchester (Vicky Griffiths, Becci Nuttall, Carmen Gedling, Rebecca Sweeney) 5:15.69; 2 Edinburgh (Kathryn Evans, Gemma Scott, Maria Thomas, Nicola Campbell) 5:17.14; 3 Glasgow (Abbey McGhee, Sarah Hood, Aisling McGhee, Danielle Osborne) 5:22.26; 4 Sheffield (Helen Singleton, Ellie Stevens, Bernice Wilson, Zara Hohn) 5:25.68; 5 Newcastle (Nisha Desai, Sara Todd, Vicky Barr, Susan Deacon) 5:27.73; 6 Belfast (Lynsey Monburn, Lynsey Freel, Sarah Quinn, Anna Boyle) 5:30.86.