29th June 2024


Louie Hinchliffe (coach: Carl Lewis, club: Sheffield & Dearne) earned his first UK men’s 100m title and became one of seven athletes to book their Olympic spots on a packed opening day at the Microplus UK Athletics Championships.

The 21-year-old clocked 10.18 (-0.8) in wet conditions at Manchester Regional Arena to lead home silver medallist Jeremiah Azu (Marco Airale, Cardiff), who secured his ticket to Paris by finishing second in 10.25 having already achieved the qualification time this year. CJ Ujah (Steve Fudge, Enfield and Haringey) took bronze in 10.37.

Hinchliffe said: “This is the first year I have taken my athletics seriously. I used to focus on golf until a couple of years ago but now I am really focussed 100% on training, nutrition, rest – the whole deal.

“It means everything to be going to Paris – I have dreamed about the Olympics since I was a kid. I will go with the attitude that I can win. I seem to do well in the high-pressure situations, so who knows.”

His coach, nine-time Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis, was watching on and added: “Louie still has some time to improve and I think he can become one of the best Britain has had.”

Azu, who is set for an Olympic debut, added: “I am delighted to be on that plane to Paris. It is my first race back after a little niggle so I can’t complain. I think maybe the rest has done me good.

“I will go back to my training camp in Italy, get my head down, away from distractions and prepare for Paris.”

Hinchliffe and Azu will be joined in the French capital this summer by Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers), who stormed to women’s 100m victory in 11.24 (-1.5).

“It feels good to get another British title,” Neita said. “I know I have the skill and speed now. It is just about carrying on the momentum and enjoying every moment.”

Amy Hunt (Marco Airale, Charnwood) took silver in 11.41, with Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Ryan Freckleton, Sutton & District) third in 11.43.

Several more Brits booked their Olympic spots over the course of the day, including Molly Caudery (Scott Simpson, Thames Valley), who retained her national title and came within a whisker of topping her own British record in the women’s pole vault.

The 24-year-old cleared 4.83m and came close to repeating the feat at 4.93m, having been successful at 4.92m to break the national record in Toulouse last weekend.

“I am very happy with the position I am in right now and I think if there’d been no wind I’d have nailed that last jump,” she said.

“I have had to force myself to review my expectations – coming into the season it was definitely about reaching Paris, now it is to medal.”

Jade Spencer-Smith (Richard Humby; Harrow) took silver on 4.31m (SB) with Sophie Ashurst (Kate Dennison, Sale) rounding off the podium on 4.21m.

Lizzie Bird (Pat McCurry, Shaftesbury Barnet) sealed her place in Paris in style with a new Championship record in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.

In the worst weather of the day, Bird crossed the line in 9:29.67, just under four seconds clear of Elise Thorner (Yeovil Olympiads), with Stevie Lawrence (Andrew Kastor, Croydon Harriers) taking bronze in a personal best of 9:45.46.

“I am really happy with today and confirming my selection to Paris,” Bird said. “Before then, I will be racing in the Paris Diamond League and hopefully straight to St Moritz for altitude training.”

Cindy Sember (Chris Johnson, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) booked her spot at her third Olympics by earning a fifth UK outdoor title in the women’s 100m hurdles.

Sember clocked 12.85 (-1.8) to finish well clear of runner-up Alicia Barrett (Lewis Samuel, Trafford), who recorded a season’s best 13.40, and bronze medallist Jessica Hunter (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Shaftesbury Barnet), one-hundredth of a second further back.

The top two finishers in the men’s discus were both left with reasons to be cheerful as Chukwuemeka Osammor (James Taylor, Sheffield & Dearne) became a UK champion and Nick Percy (Zane Duquemin, Shaftesbury Barnet) sealed his Olympic berth.

Osammor’s season’s best of 59.98m put him top of the pile while Percy, who achieved the Olympic standard in April, finished second on 58.56m to punch his Paris ticket.

“Going into today with that Olympics at stake I was quite nervous, which is not like me at all,” Percy said. “I will be cross for a few hours but then I will get my head down and prep for Paris. The school where I work breaks up next week so then I can focus on my preparation.”

The victorious Osammor said: “It was a good competition, but I felt there was more for me. There was a lot of intensity in the first round, but I couldn’t keep it going.”

A thrilling finish to the women’s 5000m saw Hannah Nuttall (Helen Clitheroe, Charnwood) pip Verity Ockenden (Swansea) to the post as she moved from third to first in the last few strides.

Just eight-hundredths of a second separated the top two, with Nuttall victorious in 15:13.70. Izzy Fry (Newbury) took bronze in 15:14.92.

Nuttall said: “I came here to win, and I am super pleased. I wanted to go out hard and aim for the Olympic standard, but I wasn’t feeling so great, so I wanted to stick with that first pack, be patient and then kick with 600m to go.

“I knew I had another gear. Verity also came strong but I was confident I could come good.”

The women’s 100m para title went the way of Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood), who triumphed in 13.07 (-2.1)

“Throughout the race I felt strong, and my competitors pushed me,” she said. “I now have a few competitions before Paris to help me prepare.”

Madeline Down (Mike Bennett, Halesowen) took silver in 13.24 with Didi Okoh (Joe McDonnell, Chelmsford) earning bronze in 15.31.

Zac Shaw (Leon Baptiste, Cleethorpes) won the men’s 100m para title in 11.21 (-2.6), clear of Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker (Joe McDonnell, Newham and Essex Beagles) and Kyle Keyworth (Kes Salmon, Manchester Harriers).

“It feels good to take the title, especially in these conditions,” Shaw said. “They reminded me of Zharnel (Hughes) last year. I thought ‘if he can do it in the rain so can I!”

Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson, City of York) made it a perfect 10 British outdoor titles as he claimed men’s shot put gold.

The 31-year-old’s second throw of 20.81m proved his best and saw him take the victory from Patrick Swan (Ryan Spencer-Jones, Cornwall) with 17.83m and Isaac Delaney (Greg Beard, Preston) throwing 17.56m.

As she continues her return to competition after injury, Naomi Metzger (Aston Moore, Trafford) soared to her sixth British women’s triple jump outdoor title following an impressive 13.71m leap, her best performance since 2022.

“I am really happy, after being injured for so long and having multiple surgeries,” she said. “Six months ago, after having my surgery I didn’t even know if I would have a season at all, but my coach told me I can go for it. I’m happy because it shows that I am in a place to keep on progressing again.”

The first final of the weekend was the women’s javelin, which saw Bekah Walton (David Turner, Loughborough Students) continue her domestic dominance by earning a fourth straight national title despite battling injury.

“I wanted to retain my title – that was my big priority,” she said. “Of course I wanted to throw further and get the B standard for Paris but I came into today with an ankle injury, so I had to be realistic.”

A throw of 54.11m was enough for Walton to earn gold, with Freya Jones (David Callaway, Newham & Essex Beagles) taking silver – as she did in 2023 – with 51.97m.

Sarah-Anne De Kremer (Peter De Kremer, Leamington) took bronze with 47.70m, while reigning world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Aston Moore, Liverpool) threw 42.38m in the first of her two events across the weekend.

The women’s hammer gold was claimed by Anna Purchase (Mohamed Ali Saatara, Notts). Her 68.79m winning throw keeps her short of the Olympic qualification standard but she has not lost hope.

“I wanted to come here, do my best and put a marker down and win,” she said. “It is quite emotional but I tried to focus on today and do my job. I am ranked 15 on Road to Paris so I am hopeful.”

Charlotte Payne (Paul Dickenson, Reading) took silver with 67.33m and Katie Head (Paul Head, Newham & Essex Beagles) completed the podium with 64.81m.

Just six centimetres separated the top two in the men’s long jump as Jacob Fincham-Dukes (Matt Barton, Leeds) retained his crown.

European fourth-placer Fincham-Dukes’ best leap of 7.95m saw him edge out Alexander Farquharson (Aston Moore, Birchfield) on 7.89m and Alessandro Schenini (Ryan McAllister, Giffnock North) on 7.77m, both of which were season bests.

“It was a good competition despite the cold and the wind, but I got the job done and that’s all that matters,” said Fincham-Dukes, who finished fourth at the European Championships and must now await further news on Olympic selection.

“I’ve jumped the UKA standard a couple times now, so this is cementing that I have met the criteria and it’s now up to the selectors on Monday.”

In the men’s high jump, Will Grimsey (Bethan Partridge, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) went one better than last year by upgrading silver to gold during his swansong summer.

Grimsey cleared 2.15m, four centimetres clear of Akin Coward (Carol Jackson, Shaftesbury Barnet) and Divine Duruaku (Julian Reid, Harrow), who took silver and bronze respectively.

“I knew my chances for Paris had kind have gone so it was all about winning and I got that done,” Grimsey said. “I am retiring at the end of this season so I’m hoping I could get an invite for the London Diamond League. It would be great to finish my career there.”

The hotly-contested 400m heats saw European silver medallist Charlie Dobson (Leon Baptiste, Colchester) qualify quickest for the men’s final in 45.75 while Amber Anning (Chris Johnson, Brighton & Hove) clocked a 50.64 to advance as the fastest qualifier for the women’s one-lap contest.

She is one of three finalists who have so far achieved the Olympic standard, along with Laviai Nielsen (Tony Lester, Enfield & Haringey) and Victoria Ohuruogu (Newham & Essex Beagles), while world 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter, Leigh) will join them on the start line after qualifying in 52.06.

The women’s 1500m final will feature five contenders who have already met the Olympic standard after Georgia Bell (Trevor Painter, Belgrave), Katie Snowden (Stephen Haas, Herne Hill), Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Rob Denmark, Poole), Revee Walcott-Nolan (Thomas Dreißigacker; Luton) and Laura Muir (Steve Vernon, Dundee Hawhill) made it through their heats.

George Mills (Thomas Dreißigacker, Brighton Phoenix), Neil Gourley (Stephen Haas, Giffnock North) and Adam Fogg (Cory Leslie, Coventry) – each of whom have met the Olympic standard – won their respective men’s 1500m heats and will line up in Sunday’s final.

In the first races of the day, Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) and Lina Nielsen (Tony Lester, Shaftesbury Barnet) – holders of the Olympic standard – advanced to the women’s 400m hurdles final as the fastest qualifiers; Knight winning her heat in 55.68 and Nielsen clocking 56.63.

The men’s 400m hurdles heats saw Efekemo Okoro (Tony Hadley, Birchfield) clock a PB of 49.24 to go through as the fastest qualifier into Sunday’s final.

In the men’s 800m, Max Burgin (Ian Burgin, Halifax Harriers) won a fiercely close battle in a stacked heat to qualify through as quickest qualifier ahead of world bronze medallist Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan, Basingstoke & Mid Hants), and world 1500m champion Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh).

The women’s 800m heats followed with Jemma Reekie (Jon Bigg, Kilbarchan) leading the way, winning her heat in 2:01.00.

Action on day two of the Microplus UK Athletics Championships kicks off from 11:15am on Sunday, starting with the men’s 5000m race walk. You can find the timetable, including results from today’s action, HERE.