1st March 2024


Morgan Lake (coach: Robbie Grabarz; club: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) battled her way to a valiant sixth place in the women’s high jump final on the first evening session of the World Athletics Indoor Championships as a further four Brits booked their own shot at a medal in Glasgow.

Lake, an agonising fourth at the World Championships in Budapest last summer, diced with fortune on the Glasgow runway, twice clearing when a third and final attempt was needed, however she narrowly fell short of the medals in sixth place despite an equal season’s best 1.92m.

Making her major senior British debut Abigail Pawlett (Ashley Bryant; Trafford) completed her third pentathlon of the year, with solid performances in the long jump and 800m seeing her finish ninth with 4287 points while Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson, City of York), the other British finalist on the night, was tenth in the men’s shot put.

Meanwhile, in qualifying action, Revee Walcott-Nolan (Thomas Dreißigacker; Luton) and UK champion Georgia Bell (Trevor Painter; Belgrave) were impressive in the women’s 1500m, both finishing their respective heats in second to reach Sunday night’s final.

In the men’s 1500m heats Adam Fogg’s (Cory Leslie; Coventry) night went from misfortune to fortune in a heartbeat as he was advanced to the final after being ruled to have been tripped by the track referee while team captain Laviai Nielsen (Tony Lester; Enfield & Haringey) rounded off a strong night of qualification by reaching the women’s 400m final.

Lake said: “It didn’t really go to plan from the start. I think when you miss your opening height, it always puts you on the back foot and I just needed to make sure I could be OK at that height. I had a lot of third attempts in that competition.

“I am happy with how it went in terms of my resilience and getting over those third attempts and keeping myself in the competition. I felt like I had two good attempts at 1.97m. I came sixth but there is plenty to learn from this.”

Lake’s outing in the women’s high jump final was reminiscent of her agonising fourth-place finish in Budapest last summer as she drank from the last chance saloon twice to keep her medal hopes alive.

She needed two attempts opening at 1.84m before 1.88m required all three. Lake then had to repeat the trick at 1.92m, an equal season’s best, taking it all the way before clearing. She then went once at 1.95m before passing after a foul.

A clearance at 1.97m would have given Lake that maiden senior world medal however she narrowly did not clear the bar with her two attempts and would place sixth overall with that 1.92m equal season’s best.

Lake added: “It has been a tough couple of weeks since the UK Championships. I jumped 1.85m there and that was a big shock for me. It knocked my confidence a lot, so going into this, I just had to be grateful for clearing every single bar.

“It was a step by step approach rather than racing to the end. At the beginning of the season my main aim was to medal at these Championships. Throughout the competition I still felt like I could do that. It’s frustrating not to do that but I will reflect on this over the next few days.”

Ranking ninth on 2652 points after the 60m hurdles, high jump and shot put, Pawlett gave her best as she completed her maiden major senior championship appearance in the women’s pentathlon.

Pawlett was just two centimetres shy of her personal best in her first event of the evening session, and fourth in the pentathlon, leaping out to 6.11m in the long jump before unfortunately recording two fouls.

That pushed Pawlett up to eighth with 3535 points ahead of the 800m finale, which saw her battle around four laps of the track in Glasgow to clock 2:25.34 minutes. That gave her an overall ranking of ninth with 4287 points.

She said: “I am grateful to be here. It wasn’t in my competition plans so this has been a great bonus to a good indoor season for me. I had a few solid events and a few disappointments but I am proud of how I bounced back from those disappointments.

“I was proud of my long jump because I was just three centimetres off my PB, and one of my no jumps was huge. I was disappointed with my shot put – I threw 14.16m last week at BUCS so 12.95m was a surprise, but I’ll learn a lot from this whole experience.”

Alongside the women’s high jump and the women’s pentathlon, Lincoln was in finals action himself in the men’s shot put. He was consistent at the start, recording a distance of 20.23m with his first two throws.

He progressed to 20.36m with his third, which would place him tenth overall and a significant improvement on his last World Indoor Athletics Championships performance in Belgrade in 2022.

He said: “It was a long three rounds. I had a ‘finger breaker’ in the last round – I felt like it was going to go far but I missed the last one. That felt the best one in how I connected with it, it just snapped off the back of my hand. It is what it is – it won’t happen in the summer that’s for sure.

“It’s frustrating in a way, I’ve taken some massive steps forward and it is a lot closer than it maybe looks on paper. The last throw was there, but then it bent my fingers back and it’s one of those things.

“Indoors wasn’t in the plan. We thought we’ll train through it and see what happens. We know I am in shape to go big, and it hasn’t quite connected yet but to go 21m indoors [in February] is massive for me at this stage of the season.”

Team captain Nielsen was the last of the five British athletes bidding for their own final place during the first evening session in Glasgow and dug deep in the second of the two women’s 400m semi-finals and brilliantly booked her place.

Drawn in lane six, Nielsen was fourth at the cut in and seemingly with everything to do. Even around the final bend it appeared as if Norwegian Henriette Jaeger would be too strong but Nielsen was far better down the home straight and grabbed the all important third.

Nielsen clocked 51.44 seconds for that automatic qualifying spot and she said: “It was a bit messy. That was probably the kick up the backside that I needed. I’m just really annoyed as I’m not going to get a good lane for the final.”

Walcott-Nolan was the first British athlete to take to the track on the first evening session of these Championships and ran a superbly composed race to progress to the final of the women’s 1500m.

Drawn in the first of four heats, Walcott-Nolan had to deal with a race that started extremely slowly through the first 400m and proceeded to be very messy with multiple lead changes. Despite never leading, Walcott-Nolan kept her head to comfortably qualify in second in 4:13.06.

Walcott-Nolan said: “The heat was all over the place and not what I wanted, but I feel like it was a good learning race. I felt strong. At the end I was waiting for the legs to fall off but they didn’t really so I was happy with that.

“I’m feeling really confident and I am in good shape so I kind of want to throw myself into it [the final] and see what happens – I am not putting any limits on myself.

With a straightforward qualification of the first three in each heat advancing to the final, Bell ‒ like fellow World Athletics Indoor Championships debutant Walcott-Nolan ‒ was also impressive on her first outing in Glasgow.

Perfectly positioned in second with three laps to go, the UK champion surged to the front with 400m remaining and stretched to a lead of up to four metres at one point. With one lap to go it was Bell and American Nikki Hiltz clear and away.

Hiltz decided that she wanted to win the race and took it at the line, the American winning by 0.05 ahead of Bell, who clocked 4:04.39 to ensure that there would be two Brits in the final on Sunday.

She said: “I knew it was going to be a really quick heat as there were a lot of big names in that heat. I was hoping someone would take it out from the front. I wanted to be in a good position and make a bit of a move with two and a half laps to go, which I did.

“I let up too early before the end so I got pipped on the line, I won’t make that mistake again ‒ it is a good lesson. It did go to plan but was perhaps a little quicker than I thought it was going to go. I like it at the front, rather than at the back and in trouble.”

In the first of the men’s 1500m heats, British debutant Fogg suffered a cruel fate as he was tripped and fell inside the opening ten metres. Fogg picked himself up and pushed himself to second – however the impact of the fall told and the pace became too much.

Fogg still battled valiantly for the remainder of the heat but finished outside the top three needed to qualify for the final in sixth in 3:48.47. Fogg’s fate would quickly change though with the track referee ruling post-race that he had been impeded and advancing him through to the final.

He said: “I was definitely tripped, I didn’t fall over my own feet there. I’ve said it plenty of times before when I have got someone running in front of me, I’m always watching their feet making sure I am not going to touch the person in front of me.

“Obviously it’s at the start and I’ve done a few races this year with a lot more people than that in the field – the track’s wide enough and everyone has their own lane at the start but 20m in and there was nothing I could do. I was pretty confident of being in the top three, but obviously it didn’t go anywhere near the way I planned it to and that’s the sport.”

Drama would follow the British team in the fourth and final heat of the men’s 1500m as less than halfway through Callum Elson (Nick Aguila; Cambridge & Coleridge) also appeared to be tripped and immediately hobbled before pulling up holding the lower part of his left leg.

Unlike Fogg, Elson was unable to complete his race, assisted off the track, and so his maiden World Indoors campaign in Glasgow would end there and then in cruel fashion.