11th September 2019


Ben Williams (coach: Aston Moore; club: Sale Harriers Manchester) and Beth Dobbin (Leon Baptiste; Edinburgh) both continued their good form as 22 British athletes in total helped Europe claim an impressive victory over the USA in The Match in Minsk.

Williams, who has improved his personal best by more than 50 centimetres this past month, and British silver medallist Dobbin finished second in the men’s triple jump and women’s 200m respectively in the Belarussian capital to contribute seven points each to the European charge.

Eilish McColgan (Liz Nuttall; Dundee Hawkhill) completed her double with third in the women’s 1500m while fellow British champion Meghan Beesley (Michael Baker; Birchfield Harriers) ran a great race to finish in the same position in the women’s 400m hurdles.

After contributing 64 points on day one, 14 British athletes added another 62.5 on day two as Europe ran out convincing winners against the USA in Minsk, taking The Match trophy by a score of 724.5 to 601.5 with the IAAF World Championships in Doha now fast approaching.

Williams, victorious at the European Team Championships and the Müller British Athletics Championships during a dream August that saw him extend his personal best to 17.27m in the triple jump, placed second with a best 16.71m with his second attempt.

He said: “I´m not really satisfied with my result, but my coach and I will do our best to prepare for the World Championships. It was pretty easy to compete tonight and Minsk is an amazing city. Unfortunately, I haven´t seen much, I was just sleeping in my bedroom, but when we were driving to some places the views were amazing.”

Dobbin, who like Williams will be making her debut appearance at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, ran her second fastest 200m of the season as she placed second in 22.92 for seven valuable points.

She was joined on the start line by fellow Brit Ashleigh Nelson (Michael Afilaka; City of Stoke) who, herself having lowered her personal best in the event this season, took fourth place and five points in 23.22 in Minsk.

Dobbin said: “I’m satisfied with my result. I expected to finish in the top two and it was my second best time. It is my last competition before the World Championships now.”

McColgan deliberately gave herself a busy schedule in Minsk and, having finished third in the women’s 3000m on day one, she repeated the trick over half the distance, taking third place again in the 1500m in 4:05.58. Melissa Courtney (Rob Denmark; Poole) was fifth in 4:06.78.

She said: “I´m quite happy with the result, it was a good workout before the next competition for me. Right now I’m happy – I liked the atmosphere, the stadium, the conditions were just wonderful. I felt support from the whole stadium and I’m impressed with the facilities. Minsk is very beautiful and I’m glad that I have been here. I’m ready for the World Championships now.”

Beesley meanwhile ran a great race in the women’s 400m hurdles and was in with a shout of victory only to get pipped at the line as Europe swept the top three places. The European bronze medallist finished third in 55.49, her second best time of the season.

She said: “Now I’m happy, it was a great opportunity to take part in a competition of this level. It was a great experience for me. My coach is always supporting me and I’m grateful to all the people who are near and with me.”

There were a flurry of fourth-place finished for British athletes with Andrew Pozzi (Santiago Antunez; Stratford-upon-Avon) finding his form in the men’s 110m hurdles. The 2018 world indoor champion made a fine start and would cross the line in fourth in 13.59.

European indoor silver medallist and No.1 in the Power of 10 rankings, Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb; Liverpool Harries) admitted he would learn from his outing in the men’s 800m as he finished fourth in a slow race in 1:47.13. Fellow Brit Kyle Langford (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) was seventh in 1:47.85.

The final fourth place and five points came from Charlie Da’Vall Grice (Bigg; Brighton Phoenix) and Jodie Williams (Stuart McMillan; Herts Phoenix), who combined with Poland’s Karol Zalewski and Lara Gomez of Spain for the mixed medley relay, clocking 3:24.60.

Another pair competing in Minsk that will make their World Championship debuts in Doha were Chris McAlister (Marina Armstrong; Thames Valley) and Elizabeth Bird (George Harrison; Shaftesbury Barnet) and they both took fifth.

McAlister took an equal share of fifth in the men’s 400m hurdles and 3.5 points as he crossed the line at the same time as Khallifah Rosser from the USA in 49.49 while in the women’s 3000m steeplechase Bird was fifth in 9:47.62.

Finally Richard Kilty (Benke Blomkvist; Middlesbrough (Mandale)), who took the tape at the Great North City Games in the 100m at the weekend and won the 200m at the European Team Championships last month, placed sixth in the latter event in 21.04.