22nd February 2020

HUNT, COOK & IROZURU AMONG THOSE TO SHINE ON DAY ONE OF SPAR BRITISH INDOOR CHAMPS

Amy Hunt (coach: Joe McDonnell, club: Charnwood), Sophie Cook (Scott Simpson, Birchfield Harriers) and Abigail Irozuru (Sale Harriers) were among those to impress as they each clinched gold and British titles on day one of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow.

Competing at her first senior British championships, world junior 200m record holder Hunt held her nerve brilliantly to take gold in 7.39 seconds and hold off the fastest qualifier from the heats, Alisha Rees (Edinburgh AC; Leon Baptiste) who clocked 7.49s to earn silver.

The final place on the podium went the way of the winner of heat two, Ebony Carr (Marshall Milton Keynes, Jonas Dodoo), who crossed the line in a time of 7.55s to come away with bronze.

“This is crazy, it’s my first British Champs and to come away with a gold is surreal. Everything went so well,” said Hunt afterwards.

“The margins are so fine in the women’s 60m and it was so close between all three of us and to come out on top has blown my mind. The 60m isn’t my top event, but it’s got 2020 off to a great start.”

Beside the 60m straight, the impressive Cook improved on her bronze medal from last year and some, as she took victory in the women’s pole vault final with a stunning clearance of 4.50m on her way to a maiden British title.

The Birchfield Harrier entered the competition at 4.15m and was the only athlete to clear the bar at that height. Then, with the field to herself, Cook went on to clear a further 35cm, surpassing her previous lifetime best.

Behind Cook, it was close for the remaining two positions on the podium, as Natalie Hooper (Birchfield Harriers; Henrietta Paxton) and Courtney Macguire (Edinburgh AC; Scott Simpson) fought it out between them at 4.00m. However, it was to be Hooper who pipped Macguire to silver, winning the medal on countback, clearing the bar on her third attempt.

After setting a new lifetime best, Cook said: “I’m over the moon with the victory, it’s going to take a while for this to sink in.

“I’m extremely happy with a PB performance, this is what I have been aiming for all of the indoor season and to be able to do it at the British Championships made it really special.

“In a couple of weeks’ I’ve got an event in Cardiff where I can experiment on a few things and then the focus will turn to outdoors and trying to jump even higher.”

The highly anticipated women’s long jump final didn’t disappoint either, as Abigail Irozuru won her first British title in five years with a season’s best distance of 6.60m.

Irozuru’s impressive opener set the benchmark for the rest to follow suit, but no one could match the Sale Harrier, who held onto the gold medal throughout to finish ahead of Jazmin Sawyers (City of Stoke; Lance Brauman), who came into the day looking to add to her third-place finish at last weekend’s Müller Indoor Grand Prix.

Sawyers fourth round best of 6.44m fell just short of the distance she managed to achieve just one week ago, but nevertheless, it proved to be enough to earn her a silver medal this time around. Sarah Abrams (Blackheath & Bromley; John Shepherd) also had a solid day in the field, jumping 6.40m to win bronze.

“It’s a good feeling and I was more excited by jumping 6.60m than I was with winning because it was a very strong series. It was more the technical things I was working on, but they all paid off,” said Irozuru.

“As British Champion, you always love the medals though, so I won’t detract from it. Let’s hope we can carry that form on into 2020 being indoor and outdoor champion. The trials for the Olympics are in Manchester at my home track and I want to make my mark there.”

In the shot put circle, the dominant Scott Lincoln (City of York; Paul Wilson) made it nine British titles in efficient manner.

Youcef Zatat (Woodfood Green & Essex Ladies; Scott Rider) was his closest rival last year, and proved to be once again this time around, but even he, with a personal best effort of 18.61m couldn’t get within touching distance of Lincoln, who threw out to 19.49m.

Patrick Swan (Cornwall; Mo Pearson) rounded off the podium, with a season’s best effort of 16.49m.

Lincoln said: “It’s always good to take the title, I’m just frustrated because I’m not in 19.50m shape, I’m a lot better than that. I’ve got more in the tank, but it will come when I get all systems firing.

“This season has just been about the outdoors, so it’s a matter of getting close to or over the qualifying for Tokyo.”

Back on the track, David King (City of Plymouth) retained his British 60m hurdles title, whilst over in the pole vault, reigning indoor champion, King defended his title in style, as he stormed to the win in 7.78s to match his feat from 2019.

Cameron Fillery (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies; Michael Baker), produced another strong performance to earn his second consecutive British indoor silver, as he came home in 7.85s, whilst Ethan Akanni (Bexley; Jerzy Macuikiewicz) secured bronze, crossing the line in 7.92s.

All of the top three flew through their heats, winning their respective races, but was King who qualified for the final in the fastest time. It appeared there was nothing that was going to stop King in his stride, as he continued his fine form to hold off the challenge of Fillery and Akanni to maintain his status as British indoor champion.

Speaking after the final, King said: “I’m happy with that, it all went better than the heat. I don’t feel I’m in the best position I’ve ever been in at this point in the season but I knew I had things to work on and that will benefit me long term heading into outdoors.

“I want to run the Olympic standard this year – training in America I have a great chance to do that training alongside the best in the world and I have to chase them down to make it to Tokyo.”

In early action, there was a great battle to become British Indoor Champion in the men’s long jump.

It was Dan Bramble (Shaftesbury Barnet; Jonas Dodoo) who pulled it out the bag when it mattered most, as he marginally edged out Alex Farquharson (Coventry; Andy Vincent) with a fantastic final round effort of 7.81m to take his fifth domestic title.

That season’s best for Bramble proved to be just enough to claim the gold medal ahead of Farquharson, who jumped a personal best of 7.77m to earn silver, whilst UK leader, Reynold Banigo (Sale Harriers; Lukasz Zawila) brought home bronze with a distance of 7.75m.

“It was a frustrating competition until round six, I’m happy to jump something reasonable out he bag, but I’m not where I need to be physically and how I feel mentally as well. To get the win today is an important stepping stone,” said Bramble afterwards.

“I’m seeing progress but still not where I want to be, eight metres is where I want to be, but I’m happy with today.”

The final of the men’s 60m saw an emphatic victory for Andrew Robertson (Sale Harriers Manchester) as he dipped for the line in 6.66 to take gold from Sam Gordon (Cardiff; Matt Elias) who clocked 6.70 for silver.

Robertson, who qualified in the quickest time from the semi-finals, was dominant in winning his first British indoor title since 2017 as he moved away from Gordon, while Toby Makoyawo (WSEH, Peter Griffiths) completed the podium as he took bronze in 6.74s.

On how the victory sets up his year, Robertson said: “This year it’s a good marker heading into outdoors with that to my name. No one closed the gap when I got going and I won the gold, you can’t ask for more than that.

“I didn’t execute, well, I don’t know whether the track is slow or whether it’s the blocks but all you can do is race your own race, I did that and won and despite feeling tight, all went well.”

In the final of the women’s 60m hurdles, a mere 0.05 seconds separated the top three, but it was the top ranked athlete Yasmin Miller (Derby AC; Stephen Martin), who produced when it counted most to win her first British title in a time of 8.29s.

Just behind her, both Jessica Hunter (Shaftesbury Barnet; Scott Grace) and Marcia Sey (Blackheath & Bromley; Lorna Boothe) put in season and personal best times of 8.31s and 8.34 respectively, but the day belonged to Miller, who celebrated winning her first British title, after coming through her heat comfortably.

“This medal means a lot to me, I’ve won so many silvers and bronze medals and I’ve always missed a gold but this time it’s in my favour,” said an ecstatic Miller.

In the longest track event of the day, Jonathan Davies (Reading; Luke Gunn) had to plan his race carefully to ensure he took gold in the men’s 3000m, ahead of Philip Seseman (Leeds City; Andrew Henderson) and Michael Ward (Cardiff; Luke Gunn), silver and bronze medallists respectively.

Clocking a time of 8:07.96, Davies earned his first British title, ahead of Seseman who got silver in 8:08.86.

It was a lot closer in the fight for bronze though, as Ward had to produce a season’s best time of 8:10.31 to thwart a late surge by Jamaine Coleman (Preston; Helen Clitheroe), who had flown back from the USA to compete this weekend.

Reflecting on the race and a first British title, Davies said: “I’m happy yes, but very tired though. Obviously a few people pulled out last week, so you race according to that. I had a plan to make it on towards the end, it was a weird race as it kind of crept up in pace rather than any surge.”

“It made me think where should I be but it gets to 3-4 laps to go and you know where you should be. Yeah for sure I felt like I should probably have a British title but I haven’t so it’s nice to check it off.”

Andrew Osagie (Harlow AC; Mark Rowland) put in a dominant performance in the second of the men’s 800m heats, controlling the race from start to finish as he qualified fastest for tomorrow’s final, clocking a personal best time of 1:48.89.

Winners of heats one and three, Alex Botterill (City of York; Andrew Henderson) and Piers Copeland (Wimborne; Bob Smith) also joined Osagie in Sunday’s start list as they crossed the line with times of 1:48.89 and 1:48.06 respectively.

Guy Learmonth (Lasswade; Henry Gray) (1:48.13), Daniel Howells (Aldershot, Farnham & District); Mick Woods) (1:50.81) and Josh Kerr (Edinburgh AC; Danny Mackey) (1:47:73) also secured their progress as came through their heats in the fastest loser spots.

In the women’s equivalent, Ellie Baker (Shaftesbury Barnet; Jon Bigg) ran a smart race to secure the fastest time in the women’s 800m heats, stopping the clock in 2:05.27.

Baker stayed with the leading pack, biding her time, until the final 200m, where she came through on the back straight to take the lead and hold off the challenge from Philippa Millage (Victoria Park City of Glasgow; William Parker), who also joined her in tomorrow’s final, after producing a personal best time of 2:05.70 to take one of three fastest loser spots.

Winners of heats one and three, Mari Smith (Birchfield Harriers; Luke Gunn) and Keely Hodgkinson (Leigh; Trevor Painter) also advanced to the final after clocking times of 2:06.46 and 2:09.16.

The heats and the semi-finals of the Men’s 400m, saw Grant Plenderleith (Sheffield & Dearne; David Lothian), Krishawn Aiken (Shaftesbury Barnet; Chris Baillie), James Williams (Liverpool; Paul Waters), and Joe Brier (Swansea; Matt Elias) go through to tomorrow’s final with times of 48.16s, 48.26s, 47.58s and 47.70s respectively.

Jason Hoyle (Thames Valley; Lloyd Cowan) and Dan Putnam (Blackheath & Bromley) also ensured their progress as the fastest losers, crossing the line with times of 48.41s and 48.47s.

Across the two heats of the men’s 1500m, Jonathan Kay (Bolton) progressed into the final with a personal best time of 3:50.36 to clock the fastest of anyone in heat one. Thomas Keen (Cambridge & Coleridge; Mark Vile) was the victor in the second heat, stopping the clock in 3:50.60.

Jessie Knight (WSEH, Marina Armstrong) followed up her victory in last weekend’s Müller Indoor Grand Prix, by clocking the fastest time overall in the heats of the women’s 400m with a time of 53.84s

With the top three athletes progressing automatically, Nicole Kendall (Thames Valley; Marina Armstrong) and Holly Turner (Crawley; Stephen King) joined her in the final as they booked their place with times of 55.24s and 54.81s.

Heat one of the women’s 1500m was significantly quicker than the second heat. Eloise Walker (Edinburgh AC; Andy Young) was the fastest automatic qualifier with a time of 4:28.83. Also lining up in tomorrow’s final will be Jenny Selman (Fife), who finished the heat one in 4:29.02, alongside Jacqueline Fairchild (Preston; Helen Clitheroe) who crossed in 4:29.21.

Day two of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships begins at 12:00 tomorrow – Sunday 23 February – with the women’s shot put final.

Both the results from day one and the full event timetable can be found via http://extranet.britishathletics.org.uk/timetable/Index/166

The live stream of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships resumes tomorrow at 11:50am via the British Athletics website and YouTube channel, plus the BBC Sport website. Commentary comes from Kris Temple and Jenny Meadows. 

#Represent