28 January 2008
In a high calibre event, which produced 27 personal bests, Team Sheffield stormed up the Indoor City Challenge (ICC) league table to a convincing win at the first semi-final in Manchester.
The team gained automatic qualification to defend their title and compete for an ICC hat-track on home turf at the final on the 17 February.
The match ended: 1, Sheffield 157.83; 2, Birmingham 144.09; 3, Manchester 132.19; 4, Edinburgh 130.83; 5, Newcastle 100.78; 6, Glasgow 76.44. Which means Sheffield, Birmingham and Manchester automatically qualify for the final while the remaining three teams’ fate will be determined on points scored at next week’s second semi-final, after which the best two runners up will gain a place in the final.
Among the many Team Sheffield event winners was Bruce Raeside who stunned spectators with a convincing win in the 800m. Usually a 1500m runner, the venture into a different event was used to his advantage: ‘I’m very happy with the win. I was trapped in last place at the start but as the others began to tire I still had plenty left because I normally compete in endurance. I managed to make up the distance and felt really strong when I finished.’ Raeside will compete at the Norwich Union World Trails and UK Championships in Sheffield on the 9 & 10 of February as he looks towards qualification for this year’s Olympics.
Team Birmingham multi-eventer Ed Dunford produced consistently brilliant performances throughout the event. Dunford, who was recently named in the Norwich Union Great Britain Combined Events International team, was hailed as best male performance of the match following wins in the shot and 60m hurdles, only narrowly missing out on a perfect scorecard with a loss to GB team-mate Kevin Sempers (Team Newcastle) in the high jump.
Team Edinburgh also raised their game in this year’s competition, under the experienced eye of their team manager former Olympic athlete Moira Maguire. Edinburgh took first place in five events with superb performances by Scott Thompson in the shot and Noni Mordi, who captivated the audience in the triple jump. Mordi was awarded best female performance of the match after jumping 13.24m, achieving the national qualifying mark on the UKA Power of Ten rankings and a new personal best, following an energised athletic display.
A stunning 1500m saw Vicky Griffiths (Team Manchester) and Hattie Dean (Team Sheffield) struggle to gain and then maintain the upper hand throughout the race. Griffiths showed event experience as she gained a slight lead in the last 200m to beat Great Britain cross country and steeplechase prospect Dean. Griffiths went on to be named as most notable performance for Team Manchester.
Other highlights of the match included Team Glasgow captain Gillian Kerr, who’s team speech at the beginning of the match must have had the intended effect on her own performance as she accomplished a personal best in the triple jump. It was a family affair in the men’s medley relay as the Flannery brothers, Niall and Kieran, both made up ground on their leg to gain Team Newcastle third place. Gillian Cooke (Team Edinburgh) and Eden Francis (Team Sheffield) achieved the national qualifying marks on the UKA Power of Ten rankings for their performance in the long jump and shot put respectively.
For full results please visit http://www.ukathletics.net/competitions/indoor-city-challenge/results/