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one lap wonder hudson-smith one of many brits off to rio

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26 June 2016

Matthew Hudson-Smith (coach: Tony Hadley) produced a scintillating run on his home track to win the British Championships 400m title and join the other 37 athletes who have secured automatic selection for the Olympic Games this weekend.

The Birchfield Harrier got out of the blocks hard, leading down the back straight. Coming off the bend he pushed again to move away from Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) and Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) to stop the clock in season’s best 44.88. That run earned him Performance of Day, and afterwards he commented:

“It feels amazing; I can’t put it into words! To know I am now going to Rio is just indescribable. It was a really strong field and we have some fantastic athletes which is great for our relay team. I knew what I was up against but I just wanted to go out there and execute my race. I’ve been watching this race since I was 12 so to become British Champion is crazy.”

There was another young winner in the women’s 200m final as Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) tore round the bend to win her first 200m British Championships in 23.11 (-0.1m/s). She didn’t have it all her own way, as fellow youngster Desiree Henry (Rana Reider) ran her very close; two hundredths to be precise, as both women ensured they’ll be running at their first Olympic Games in August.

“I am really happy - it’s a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. I can’t believe it. It’s a weird feeling because it doesn’t become about the race or about winning because it is so much more than that. This is Olympic trials, this is the event you need to qualify from. It was emotional and I was nervous because it meant so much. I am honestly so happy to have booked my seat on the plane to Rio. There is still lots of hard work to do but I’m just happy to have qualified.”

The men’s 200m was also a brilliant race that went right down to the wire, Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge) holding off Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) by the width of his vest. Coming off the bend those two were clear of the field, but Gemili started to tighten up in the final 20 metres, allowing Talbot to come very close, their final times 22.44 (-0.1m/s) to 22.46. With that, the two athletes are off to Rio.

“I’m over the moon – it’s the best feeling in the world. I had to come here and run a time, and finish in the top two to guarantee selection, so it is a big relief I’ve done that. There have been a lot of guys running very quick this year. I’m still not where I quite want to be in training so I’ve been using my races as training. I still hopefully have a lot more to show and get it right when it matters.

“I think for Rio I want to medal at a major senior Championships, and at the moment my best chance of doing that is in the 200m. If I can get myself in the final I know I’ll be competitive. I always go into a race looking for the victory. I am going out there to make the final and medal. I am always learning but I feel more like an experienced member of the team. You have to aim to be the best. If I don’t medal I’ll be quite disappointed and I think that’s the attitude you need to have.”

Andrew Pozzi (Malcolm Arnold) ran the race of his life as stormed to a 13.31 personal best, despite a 1.3m/s headwind, to take his first British Championship 110m hurdles title since 2012. Lawrence Clarke (Samba-Koundy Giscard) perhaps got away better, but Pozzi wasn’t about to let the defending champion retain his title as he raced all the way to the line to secure gold.

“I am absolutely thrilled with that. I knew it was going to be close after the heats. I am over the moon to come back and qualify four years after doing it for London 2012, and that was actually the last outdoor trials I ran in. With a PB and the same lane I did it in four years ago, I love Birmingham. I grew up just down the road in Stratford upon Avon so it’s always good to come back.”

Clarke has been in good form all year, his 13.44 time yet another Olympic qualifier, meaning he’ll join Pozzi on the plane.

Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) produced the best jump of her life to not only win the British title, but secure her second Olympic qualifying standard, meaning she’s off to Rio. After having issues on the board, the British Indoor champion produced a terrific 6.75m jump in round five in less than ideal conditions, backing it up with a 6.72m jump in the final round. That meant defending champion Shara Proctor (Reider) had to settle for silver, with the consolation of knowing her Rio spot is also guaranteed.

“I’m chuffed to bits, I can’t believe it” said Sawyers. “I feel as though I have had a series of jumps in the last few competitions which were almost there so I’m very happy to do it today. I’ve had a series of consistent jumps this season in the 6.60s so I knew it was there. I can’t believe I have confirmed my place on the plane to Rio, I’m so happy. It is a big moment for me but it is just the start of my Olympic campaign.”

Laura Muir (Andy Young) showed just why she is one of the best metric milers in the world at present as she streaked away from a strong 1500m field over the final 300m to defend her British title and book her place on the plane to Rio. After a slow first three laps, the Scot produced a huge injection of pace to quickly move clear, leaving Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) and Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas) to do battle for second. That tussle literally came down to the last few strides, Weightman eventually prevailing to also book her Rio spot.

Of her performance Muir said: “It feels great – I just wanted to tick that box and seal my place on the team for Rio. I’ve retained my title at the same time so I am delighted. It was quite windy so I knew if I was going to win that I was going to have to make a break for it. It slowly wound up and I managed to break up the field.”

Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg) produced perhaps the upset of the day as she passed Lynsey Sharp (Reider) just metres from the line, to win her first British title, with both women securing their spots at the Olympic Games. Crossing the line in 2.01.80, just ahead of Sharp’s 2.02.14, the World Championship fifth place finisher said the victory was an added bonus.

Oskan-Clarke said: “I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, I’m in good form so there’s just a lot of fine tuning but I don’t want to overcook it – it’s more about peaking at the right time and being confident in my ability.”

There was a dazzling performance from Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) to win the 400m British title with a beautifully timed 51.94 run. Diamond held an advantage coming off the bend, but silver and bronze medallists Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) and Anyika Onoura (Reider) were still fully in the mix. Diamond held her form though to move away and cross the line arms aloft, knowing she’s off to Rio.

“It’s just a relief; I think it’s the first time that I’ve come in to the Championships ranked number one. To win was just a massive bonus, and to firmly secure my seat at Rio is an absolute dream come true. It was such a strong field, I came in thinking I should have the most confidence I’ve ever had because I’ve PB’d numerous times this season and I’ve had a whole winter without any injuries. I came into the competition confident, knowing exactly what I needed to do.”

Thanks to her second place finish Bundy-Davies has also secured she’ll be in Rio.

The men’s high jump was decided on countback as London 2012 bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Caan) was awarded gold ahead of Chris Baker (Sharon Heveran), with both men clearing 2.26m to secure their Olympic spots.

European champion Eilidh Doyle (Arnold) ran a flawless race, storming to her third British Championship 400mH title in an impressive 54.93. Running into a stiff headwind down the backstraight, Doyle was well clear after three hurdles, and despite being unchallenged she kept it going all the way.

“I never take anything for granted because you’ve still got to go out and execute the race. I had to remain focused but I’m happy to put on a show this afternoon. It’s great to confirm qualification to the Olympic Games. I’m confident going into that competition as the hurdles field on the international stage is wide open this year.”

The men’s event was a stark contrast, as coming off the final bend it really was anyone’s race. It was Sebastian Rodger (Stephen King) who stole the impetuous, stealing a march on Jack Green (June Plews) who chased him all the way to the line, but couldn’t deny him his first British title.

Thanks to his two qualifying standards prior to today and a top two finish, Green has sealed his Rio berth, whilst Rodgers’ 49.45 season’s best run was five hundredths outside the standard required.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be British Champion. A lot of hard work has gone into this and I have moved back to my old coach (Stephen King) and things seem to be working out."

On chasing the qualifying times he added: “I feel good about it – I feel as though I have a chance to get them. Today was windy and I was very close to getting one. I’d love to go to the Europeans and chase the times because I know I will run quick there.”

In a typically tactical men’s 1500m, defending champion Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) showed just why as he kicked away to win in 3.43.41, just ahead of Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman). As a result, both Grice and O’Hare are off to Rio, as they already had a pair of qualifying times before today.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking today so I’m really happy to come away with the win” said Grice. “It was quite a slow race but I believed in my kick as I’ve come in well prepared. I had to stay relaxed and trust myself – it didn’t really get going until 200m to go. I knew it was there but it was about letting it all out and guaranteeing my spot on the team to the Olympics. I’m very thankful that things have come together today. I’ve dreamt about racing in Rio and it’s what it is all about. I will be racing the best athletes in the world, that’s where I want to be.”

The women’s 5,000m was a tactical affair until the 5,000m when Steph Twell (Mick Woods) followed by Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) moved away from the rest of the field to take gold and silver and secure their Rio spots.

Pre-event favourite Jade Lally (Andrew Neal) saved her best until last to win the women’s discus title and book her Rio place having already thrown the qualifying distance on a number of occasions. Her 59.15m throw was short of the 61.00m standard, but her 65.10m personal best came earlier this year.

“I didn’t do very well today so it almost feels like I haven’t really fully earned it. I’ve had a good season so I have earned it, I just would have liked to have topped it off with a 60-61 metre throw, but the job today was just to finish top two and I’ve done that. At least now I’m part of the automatic team for Rio, I’ve never had that ever before.”

The men’s hammer was billed as one of the field events to watch, and it lived up to expectation. In the end Chris Bennett (Mick Jones) prevailed with the second longest throw of his career, 75.67m, to hold off Mark Dry and Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson), who took the minor medals.

Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake) took the British Championship title in the men’s 5km walk in a season’s best of 19.13.56, but was second across the line behind Dane Bird-Smith of Australia. Bosworth, who has already secured his 20km spot for Rio, was followed home by training partner Callum Wilkinson, the junior setting a huge 19.54.47 personal best. In the women’s event, Bethan Davies (Drake) shaved three seconds off her personal best as she won in 22.03.82.

Emerging talent Elliot Giles kicked away from the field down the home straight to ensure there is a new name at the top of British 800m running, as he denied Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg) his eighth British title. Rimmer led coming off the bend, but the youngster had the speed to pass his more experienced rival, with Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb) also squeezing through for silver.

The women’s steeplechase also saw a turn up for the books as Rosie Clarke (David Harmer) produced a personal best performance of 9.52.20 to take the British title, however a second place finish is enough to secure Lennie Waite’s (Steve Sisson) Olympic place.

Rachel Wallader won the women’s shot put with a best of 16.67m, whilst the men’s long jump saw a new champion in Dan Gardiner (Mike Stayman), who leapt to 7.67m.

Luke Cutts (Trevor Fox) did enough to win the men’s pole vault title with a 5.40m clearance to secure his Olympic place, whilst there was an upset in the women’s javelin as Jo Blair (David Burrell) threw a personal best of 57.44m to defeat Goldie Sayers (Mark Roberson).

Full results from the weekend’s action can be found here: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/results/20160624_birmingham/timetable/index/index.html