25th June 2021


Two U20 champions were crowned on a busy first day of action at the Müller British Athletics Championships at Manchester as athletes had to contend with unseasonably chilly conditions and strong headwinds.

All eyes were on four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah (coach: Gary Lough, coach: Newham & Essex Beagles) in the invitational 10,000m which was the last event of the day as he made a final bid for the Olympic qualifier of 27:28.00.

He was on schedule at 5000m in 13:42.98 but, despite enthusiastic crowd support, began to gradually drift off the pace at 6000m in 16:30.80 and dropped further back over the last four kilometres as he valiantly tried to a solo run to hit his target. He won in a season’s best and stadium record 27:47.04 after a 14:04 second half, 10 seconds ahead of Zerei Kbrom of Norway’s 27:57.63 with Felix Bour of France’s 27:59.31.

Afterwards Farah addressed the crowd and said: “Thank you for coming out. It was quite windy when I was out on my own. I gave it all but that’s all I had. Tonight it showed it’s not good enough.”

World 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) sped to a 11.28 100m heat despite a 2.2mps headwind to qualify fastest for Saturday’s semi-finals.

She said: “It felt good. Obviously, the headwind felt substantial but it’s good to get out here and deliver a good performance.”

Another athlete with the Olympic qualifier from earlier meetings, Daryll Neita (Rana Reider, Cambridge H) was next best on 11.39 into a -2.5mps headwind.

European 100m champion Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury) in10.50/-3.4) was the fastest in the men’s 100m heats.

The 2018 World Junior 200m champion Jona Efoloko (Clarence Callendar/Sale) was the next best with 10.53 (-1.5).

The women’s 400m heats proved super competitive with European Indoor bronze medallist Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton, Herts Phoenix) going through as the fastest qualifier with a 51.92 win and her younger sister Hannah (Glyn Hawkes, Herts |Phoenix), who was only 10th-ranked, won her heat in a PB of 52.26 despite the windy conditions and goes into the final with the third fastest heat time.

Top-ranked at 50.96, the American-based Nicole Yeargin (USC) ran her first ever race in Britain and ran 53.03 to qualify second in her heat.

Tenth-ranked prior to the event Niklas Baker (Piotr Spas, Crawley) was the fastest qualifier with a time of 46.81.

The men’s 400m heats saw European champion and four-time British champion Matthew Hudson-Smith (Birchfield) pull up after 100 metres. Also, five-time champion Martyn Rooney (Nick Dakin, Croydon) finished seventh in his heat and was emotional afterwards as he pondered it might be his last ever Championships.

The former European champion said, “I was nervous today and treated it like an Olympic final as I knew it would be tough as I’ve not been running well. I came off the bell winning but I was crawling in those last 50 metres. The sport has given me so much: UK Sport, British Athletics, all the therapists and Neil Black – they are all givers.”

A number of leading contenders in the men’s 1500m heats progressed to the next stage as just a couple of seconds covered the 10 fastest qualifiers. World finalist and top-ranked Josh Kerr (Edinburgh) was fastest with 3:44.46.

In the women’s 1500m, European Athletics Team Championships 3000m winner Revee Walcott-Nolan (Dale King-Clutterbuck, Luton) was fastest with 4:18.64 from European Indoor silver medallist Holly Archer (Andrew Parmenter, Cambridge and Coleridge).

The four athletes who already own Olympic qualifying marks dominated their heats in the women’s 400m hurdles.

Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong, Windsor SEH) was fastest with 56.88 from fellow heat winners Jessica Turner (Nick Dakin, Amber Valley) on 56.96, Meghan Beesley (Benke Blomkvist, Birchfield) 57.53 and Lina Nielsen (Ryan Freckleton, Shaftesbury) 57.66.

Knight said: “It is windy but I did what I needed to do. I’ve not had the easiest route to these championships, and I’ve not raced for five weeks due to a minor injury and I’m now happy and in a good place.”

The former European Heptathlon bronze medallist Tim Duckworth (Toby Stevenson, Liverpool) dominated the Decathlon. He was fastest at 100m (11.10 into a strong 2.9mps headwind) and had the best long jump with 7.44/-1.9.

He was third best at the shot with 13.11 as Curtis Mathews (Lawrence Moore, Cardiff) excelled with a 15.21m PB.

Duckworth was back on top for the high jump clearing 2.01m after entering at a height of 1.98m when no one else cleared 1.92m and at this point he had a 347 point lead.

However, he struggled with injury in the last 100m and his 53.62 (compared to a 48.78 PB) yielded just 655 points and he now leads overnight with 3900 points with Harry Kendall (Mike Corden, Tonbridge) second on 3656 just ahead of Ellior Thompson (Greg Richards) on 3652.

Megan Keith (Ross Cairns, Inverness) easily won the Under-20 3000m in 9:29.66 to confirm her place in the team for the European Athletics U20 Championships with 14-year-old Jess Bailey (Tim Winder, Leven Valley) taking silver in 9:32.93 and Phoebe Andersen (Wayne Vinton, Herne Hill) the bronze in 9:34.79.

The under-20 men’s 3000m was more competitive and Will Barnicoat (Windsor) went from fourth to first in the last 50 metres to confirm his position in the team for Tallinn next month.

Silver went to Duncan Robinson (Giffnock) in 8:23.72 and Alex Melloy (Mark Vile, Cambridge and Coleridge) bronze in 8:23.95.

Barnicoat won the Muller Performance of the day with that effort where he ran a 57 second final circuit.