11th September 2020


British Athletics Futures Programme stars continued to impress on the senior domestic stage at the Müller British Athletics Championships in Manchester.

Across the Olympic Futures Programme, 12 athletes were in action, with six Paralympic Futures athletes taking to the track in para-specific events, the first time such events have been included in the British Championships.

During the extended lockdown period, the futures programme has had to find inventive ways to offer support to programme athletes, including remote coaching forums and virtual camps, amongst other long-distance ways of offering support.

One of those benefitting from the support offered through the programme is Lucy-Jane Matthews (Alan Richardson; Birchfield), who broke the British age-17 best over 100m hurdles with a 13.20s effort.

During the lockdown period, Matthews has had to deal with some injuries and not having access to hurdles and a track, a problem which has been faced by a number of athletes over the summer, but with the help of the programme, has stayed on top of things and delivered on the big stage.

On the support she has received, Matthews said: “The futures programme have been brilliant and I’m so grateful to be a part of the pathway. With the pains and injuries I’ve suffered this season, they have been there to support and assist me, enabling me to continue to develop and overcome the setback.

“They have and continue to also provide workshops which help us on the programmes to develop as people as well as athletes. I was also lucky enough to work with Laura Turner, my futures point of contact, over the last couple of months. She was so incredibly helpful and worked cohesively with my coach, Alan Richardson, to get me back in the best technical shape possible for the rest of the season.”

“I’m incredibly pleased with my performance this season, especially at the Müller British Championships. To have overcome all the difficulties presented by this season and run a PB and age British record was so encouraging.

“Looking ahead, I’m also very excited for the coming years. This season I had to compete with several physical ailments which caused a lot of pain and disruption and I know in the future when these have subsided, there’s a lot more progression for me to make. I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of what I’m capable of.”

Other leading performances from 2020 programme athletes were led by Alastair Chalmers (coach: Matt Elias; club: Guernsey) and Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter; Leigh), who both wrapped up their maiden outdoor British titles over 400m hurdles and 800m respectively.

Chalmers threw down the gauntlet to the best of Britain in the heats, qualifying fastest for Sunday’s final courtesy of a 51.01s clocking at the Manchester Regional Arena. He went one better in the final though, breaking off the bend and slowly putting daylight between himself and World Championship semi-finalist Chris McAlister (Marina Armstrong; Thames Valley) to break 50-seconds for the third time, shaving 0.21s off his PB for gold in 49.66s.

Having already claimed the British Indoor title back in February, Hodgkinson made it a 2020 to remember at the British Championships by adding the outdoor crown to her collection, owed to a 2:03.24 clocking, with fellow Futures Programme star Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn Enfield & Haringey) stealing silver in 2:04.73.

Both ensured automatic qualifying on day one without too much fuss, claiming second position in their individual heats, Boffey the faster of the two in 2:05.46, with Hodgkinson clocking 2:07.01.

In the final, it was Boffey who controlled things early on, taking the field through the bell in 62.87s before Boffey, Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) and Hodgkinson began trading places in the final 200m. The latter kicked with 150m to go and there was no stopping her as she became the youngest winner over 800m since 1974, with Boffey fighting back over the final 10m to take silver.

Over 110m hurdles, Cameron Fillery (Michael Baker; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) took silver behind David King (Tim O’Neil; City of Plymouth), cutting the tape in 13.83s to King’s winning time of 13.58s, with Amy Hunt (Joe McDonnell; Charnwood) collecting a bronze medal over 100m in 11.35s.

In the field, shot putters Lewis Byng (Stuart Carlaw; Stratford-upon-Avon) and Serena Vincent (Bronwin Carter; City of Portsmouth) both came away from the championships with medals, Byng taking silver behind Scott Lincoln with a 16.66m effort, his only legal throw of the competition, and Vincent producing an excellent series for bronze with a 15.60m best, with all throws within 30cm of one another.

Erin Wallace (Andy Young; Giffnock North) took fourth place in a cagey women’s 1500m race, while Jeremiah Azu (Helen James; Cardiff) and Jona Efoloko (Michael Afilaka; Sale Harriers Manchester) took respective fifth and fourth places over 100m and 200m respectively, with Shemar Boldizsar (Vincent Lawrence; Harlow AC) clocked a season’s best in only his second 200m race of the summer.

In the ambulant 100m men’s race, Thomas Young (Joe McDonnell; Charnwood) took a hard fought second place behind Zac Shaw (Cleethorpes) in 11.32s, with Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker (Newham & Essex Beagles) fourth in 11.79s, and Alexander Thomson (Thomas Graham; Whitemoss) clocking a season’s best 12.37s.

In the women’s amublant 100m, Kirsty Taylor (Joe McDonnell; DSW Para Academy) notched a season’s best of 14.21s for seventh place and in the women’s 400m wheelchair race, Fabienne André (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) clocked 72.60s for fourth place in the women’s race.