26 January 2008
The Norwich Union Great Britain & Northern Ireland team kicked off Olympic year in style by taking on some of the world’s leading stars in Glasgow and winning the Norwich Union International Match.
For many athletes the road to Beijing began in Scotland where GB&NI beat the USA, Sweden, Germany and a Commonwealth select team.
A host of personal and season’s bests peppered the proceedings at a packed Kelvin Hall which saw GB&NI win the team match by one point from the United States and Germany.
Britain won the event in the very last event, when Craig Pickering scored an impressive victory the greatly anticipated 60m. Pickering got off to a good start and never looked back as he pipped fellow Brit Simeon Williamson, competing for the Commonwealth team, with a fast season’s best of 6.57.
His victory meant the Norwich Union GB&NI team secured 54 points from the 17 events, pushing the Americans and Germans down to equal second with 53 points each.
Victories throughout the afternoon meant GB&NI were always in contention.
On his GB senior debut Richard Buck battled to victory in the 400m. In forth place coming off the final bend, Buck went wide to snatch first in the final two metres to win with 47.76, from Jamaal Torrance of USA.
Buck said: “It was a very fast start which I was not prepared for. I was only forth after the first lap, but was very close coming off the last bend and I knew I had a bit left. They started to fade during the last lap which I could sense.”
Jeanette Kwakye took the field apart in the women’s 60m, leaving everyone in her wake as she stormed to victory in 7.23 seconds. Lena Berntsson of Sweden took second in 7.39.
Lisa Dobriskey showed her metal when she virtually lead from the gun in an impressive performance which saw her easily win the 1500m. The Commonwealth Games champion piled on the pressure to take the race by three seconds, notching up an indoor PB of 4:16.30.
Jenny Meadows made sure that the British women dominated the middle distance races, winning the 800m from the front in 2:02.89.
Meadows said: “I came here thinking don’t worry about the time, just try to get the victory. That’s what I did and I’m delighted. I’ve been on the UKA camp to South Africa and did quite a lot of high volume, so I need a good few weeks of tapering under my belt and hopefully in a good quality race I will go quite a lot faster.”
Meadows’ victory was backed up by Katrina Wootton, whose plucky run saw her hold of the German, Antje Moldner, to win the 3000m in 9:03.87.
American double world champion Bernard Lagat, showed his class, winding up the pace in the 1500m with one lap to go to sprint away from the field to win in 3:45.89. Michael East made the early running in his first race back after a lengthy spell out of competition through injury before fading to finish fourth in 3:50.61.
Chris Tomlinson took maximum points for GB&NI, winning the long jump with a season’s best leap of 7.86m.
Heptahlon specialist Jessica Ennis ran a new personal best of 8.18 seconds in the 60m hurdles in a race won by Swedens’s European champion Sussana Kallur, who set season’s best of 7.81 seconds.
Ennis completed her day’s work by coming second in the long jump, competing as a guest, with an indoor PB of 6.33m.
1. Great Britain & Northern Ireland, 54 points
=2. United States of America, 53 points
=2. Germany, 53 points
4. Commonwealth select, 46 points
5. Sweden, 43 points
Full results available at Norwich Union International Results