14th July 2018

UGEN AND BRADSHAW CLAIM MAXIMUM POINTS FOR BRITISH TEAM ON 1ST DAY OF ATHLETICS WORLD CUP

It was an entertaining first day at the Athletics World Cup, presented by Müller, as the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team enjoyed two stunning victories courtesy of Team Captain Lorraine Ugen (coach: Shawn Jackson, club: Thames Valley) and Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn Harriers).

The British team lie in fifth position after the first evening session of the inaugural event at the London Stadium, after many season’s bests were posted as athletes raised their performances in front of a vocal home crowd.

Team captain Ugen produced a world-class display to take full points for the British team, winning by 38cm after an outstanding jump of 6.86m.

After leaping 7.05m – a personal best and world lead at the Müller British Athletics Championships two weeks ago – Ugen was the favourite for the victory here in London and she certainly delivered. Her second-round effort was by far the classiest jump of the competition, and showed the British team the way during the opening session.

Ugen spoke afterwards: “For me this competition was great fun and a great opportunity to be relaxed and enjoy the night. The crowd were fantastic and it was nice to see so many friendly faces in the crowd. I would love to come back and take part again in this competition as I had real fun and a good break from the Diamond League.

“I loved the team format. Normally we are individuals and we only focus on our competition but here it is good to look around and see how my team-mates are doing and how the points are going. I have really enjoyed being captain. The team has embraced me as captain and I have tried to inspire them to get maximum points. I hope we can build on this on day two.”

In a highly entertaining women’s pole vault competition which opened the Athletics World Cup, Bradshaw wowed the London crowds as she also collected full points for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

She had a perfect series leading up to 4.75m which was an impressive show for the British crowd who really got behind the first event of the evening. Clearances at 4.50m, 4.60m, 4.68m and 4.75m put pressure on her opponents who could not respond. America’s Katie Nageotte held her own against the Briton up until 4.68mm but three fouls at 4.75m saw her competition come to a close, much to the delight of the British record holder.

She said afterwards: “It was good. I was really excited to come here and compete. It’s a different event, it takes me back to my roots when I used to compete for Blackburn Harriers when you used to collect points. I was really excited to get the win and the eight points. It feels amazing.

“I am really pleased with my height. I kind of wanted to go over 4.82m which would have been a British record. But for me at the minute I am building nicely towards the European Championships. I had so much fun out there. I am really pleased. The crowd was amazing; it really picks you up and energises you.”

A non-scoring guest, Sophie Cook (Ray Webb, Birchfield Harriers) cleared 4.05m for seventh position in her first ever senior international for the British team.

Seven points were in the bag for Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson, Blackburn) as she threw a season’s best of 73.48m in the women’s hammer throw, showing her world-class credentials in front of the home crowd. The Olympic bronze medallist was always in the top two throughout the event, and was only overtaken by Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk, the world record holder and multi-medalled champion as she threw 78.74m, a world lead.

She commented: “It feels great to get the first silver of the World Cup and seven points for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, everyone is always really supportive here, not just of GB & NI but athletics in general. It’s always great in this stadium and I love it. I came away crying last year but I’m not crying now.”

There was a tremendous display by Meghan Beesley (Michael Baker, Birchfield) who produced one of the strongest races of her season over the 400m hurdles. She came off the final bend in second position behind Jamaica’s Janieve Russell and that order remained as they crossed the line, the Briton holding off the fast finishing field to claim seven points, and a clocking of 55.90.

It was a race to remember for 20-year-old Jemma Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan) who not only claimed six points for the British team on her senior international debut, but she posted a lifetime best of 4:09.05 in the process.

There were five athletes who were still in contention at the bell, and when Rachel Schneider from the USA team made a move with 300m to go, the 2017 European U20 champion over the distance remained focused and tracked the move. The fast finishing Sofia Ennaoui (POL) went passed the pair as the entered the home straight but the Kilbarchan athlete held on for a marginal PB by 0.05 seconds.

“It was really fun. I wanted to come out here and have fun in my first senior appearance for GB, and to come out here and get a PB and a medal out of it is fantastic,” said the delighted Reekie. “I actually felt really relaxed. I said to myself just go out and enjoy it. Anything else is a bonus this year as I have already done so well. I am competing against world-class athletes regularly now so I am getting more experienced every race.

“I am so happy to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland, especially here in London. I had so much fun and the crowd were amazing. I have never had such a big cheer before so the whole experience was fantastic.”

Also in the middle-distance events, Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) bagged six points in the men’s 800m after holding off the challenge of Frenchman Gabriel Tual in the closing stages, posting a time of 1:47.40. Elsewhere, Anyika Onuora (Rana Reider, Liverppol) also faced a battle to the line to pip the American Courtney Okolo to fourth position, and a crucial five points for her country; her time 52.03.

Five points was the score in the 100m for Britain’s Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan, Enfield & Haringey) who had an explosive start out of the blocks, leading over the first 20 metres or so, only to be overhauled into fourth position in 11.25, just 0.04 seconds outside the podium places. Ashley Henderson came through strong to take full points for the USA narrowly ahead of Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson in 11.07.

After nearly bowing out of the competition at 2.21m, a final attempt clearance saw Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft) take four points in the men’s high jump. In the penultimate race of the evening, the women’s 4x400m relay team of Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna, Thames Valley), Amy Allcock (Glyn Hawkes, Aldershot, Farnham & District), Finette Agyapong (Coral Nourrice, Newham & Essex Beagles) and Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon, Bristol & West) eventually placed in fifth place after a fast-finishing Poland and France overtook in the final 150 metres.

Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore, Oxford City AC), Delano Williams (Steven Francis, Enfield & Haringey) and Laura Whittingham (Mike McNeill, Sale Harriers Manchester) all added three points apiece to the GB & NI overall tally.

Douglas jumped a best mark of 16.24m in the men’s triple jump, while Williams ran well in lane one for 20.97 (-1.1 m/s) over 200m. In the final field event of the evening, Whittingham – in her first ever appearance at the London Stadium – threw 51.74m. It was quite a difference for the 32-year-old who went from watching athletics here in recent years to bringing home crucial points for your country in this exciting concept.

In the discus, Brett Morse (Zane Duquemin, Cardiff) collected two points throwing 59.72m in the penultimate round, while Jamaican Fedrick Dacres won with 65.32m. Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson; City of York, did exactly the same, claiming two points after a big season’s best of 19.24m.

The men’s 4x100m quartet of Reuben Arthur (Ryan Freckleton, Enfield & Haringey), Sam Gordon (Matt Elias, Cardiff), Andrew Robertson (Sale Manchester Harriers) and Confidence Lawson (Clarence Callendar, Shaftesbury Barnet) took home one point.

Unfortunately, earlier in the programme Andrew Pozzi (Benke Blomkvist, Stratford-upon-Avon) crashed at hurdle three in the men’s 110m hurdles, which meant GB & NI did not take points from the event.

Full results and current standings can be found here: https://www.athleticsworldcup.org/the-event/results/

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