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Aviva European Trials - Day 2

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Donna Fraser
Doubling up - superb 200m and 400m wins for Fraser


15 February 2009

Follow this link for instant results from this weekend in Sheffield.

On the second day of the Aviva European Trials, Donna Fraser proved age to be no barrier as she proved there was still life in her legs.

Fraser (Croydon) set a superb double across 200m and 400m, and achieved her first national indoor title over the longer distance.

In the 200m – which sat in the early stage of Sunday afternoon’s timetable, Fraser was able to stretch her legs out in preparation for her later 400m final. Blasting away from the blocks she overtook Helen Pryor (Windsor SEH) on the home straight to complete the first half of her afternoon’s ambitions, taking the win in 23.48.

Then less than two hours later she strode into the lead at the break of the 400m, and was never headed despite the determined effort of Marilyn Okoro in the home straight, Fraser appearing to have benefitted from the warm-up workout in the 200m.

Fraser said: “I must really love this sport – I don’t know what possessed me to take on both events this weekend at my age!

“I still don’t know how long I’ll go on – the mind’s willing but the body’s getting old.”

The men’s 1500m final was a display of top class front running by Mo Farah (Newham & Essex) who ran away from the field, blasting through 800m in 1.54.26, finishing with 3.40.57. In second, Neil Speaight came through strongly, having faded initially from trying to stick with Farah’s pace he was duly rewarded with 3.42.67, just 0.67 outside the European indoor selection standard.

Farah was delighted with his weekend’s work: “I felt good all the way to the finish. I needed some speed work so running the 1500m was great – this is great preparation for the 3000m at the European Championships.”

In one of the closest races of the day, Susan Scott (Victoria Park) and Hannah England (Oxford City) were unfortunate not to gain the 1500m standard of 4 mins 11 for the European Indoors. With Scott taking on the pace and leading from start to finish, England set off in pursuit, but neither could motor on enough to reach the required standard, finishing in 4.12.85 and 4.12.99 respectively.

Scott said: “It’s the first time I have front run the 1500m but I think it’s good for my confidence. I’m not worried about the time – I’m sure I’ll get it next week at Birmingham.”

The men’s 800m final provided a close encounter between Ed Aston (Cambridge and Coleridge), Richard Hill (Notts) and Joe Thomas (Cardiff) where the final straight saw more drama than the previous 750m combined. As Ed Aston held the inside line for the tape, the legs of Joe Thomas started to buckle and he appeared likely to crash to the floor with Hill forced the long way round. Aston took the title in a lifetime best of 1.48.82, with Hill second in 1.49.01 and Thomas, managing just to stay upright to cross the line in third with 1.49.15.

Aston said: “I want to get into the European Indoors team – so I’ll have a good rest week and recover then bash it out in Birmingham next weekend.”

Jenny Meadows was a more emphatic winner of the women’s 800m – winning in 2.01.69 and achieving the European Indoor qualifying standard in the process.  Meadows led from start to finish and managed to maintain her form across the line, followed by Vicky Griffiths (Liverpool Harriers) with 2.02.59 and Tara Bird in 2.06.27.

The men’s 60m hurdles final suffered the curse of the false start rule as the two favourites were both disqualified after the second aborted start. Andy Turner (Sale) and William Sharman (Belgrave) both saw the red card and were forced to sit out and watch Chris Baillie run a strong race to take the title in 7.74 ahead of Gianni Frankis in 7.81 and Callum Priestly in 7.89 – all top three achieving life time bests.

In reaching the final however Turner had ran a swift 7.57, a fifth of a second faster than anyone else at the heats stage.

Richard Buck showed that his strong form throughout Saturday’s heats had provided the perfect warm up in taking the 400m title. He led from start to finish, commanding the break and easing over the line in a season’s best 46.41 ahead of the challenge from Newham’s Mark Brown who had also been touted as a title hopeful following Saturday’s semi finals.

Buck was pleased, but matter-of- fact about his win: “I’m pleased with that, I did what i had to do this weekend and now I can go home happy.”

In the men’s 200m the defending champion Chris Clarke crashed out clutching his leg at the 100m point of the final, but Leon Baptiste was a worthy winner based on the performances across the weekend. Having thrown down the gauntlet at the semi final stage with a PB 20.95 – the fastest British time this year, Baptiste maintained his form in the final to cross the line in 21.04 and take the national title.

“It’s a shame this event is no longer in the championships as I am running well,” said Baptiste. “I will work hard now for the summer and aim to make the team for Berlin.”

In the field events, a good standard men’s pole vault competition kept the back straight spectators entertained and winner Steve Lewis (Newham and Essex) rewarded them with a significant attempt on the UK record, failing at 5.82m. He did however make his mark on the event setting a stadium record of 5.65m at his first attempt.

The finish reflected on a good competition where Luke Cutts (Dearnside)cleared 5.41m and Paul Walker (Sale)set a PB of 5.31m.

“I still think I’m going to get the British record this season,” said Lewis, “it’s good to feel the bar at that  height again – I’m jumping next in Stockholm against the big guys and I’m really looking forward to it.”

In the women’s shot Alison Rodger (Sale) timed her best ever performance to perfection in taking the title with 15.79m ahead of Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers) whose 14.50 was just 16cm off her best ever mark. It cheered Sotherton who had suffered  with a bad back which had hampered her long jump effort on Saturday, and she was in no doubt as to where the improvement lay:

“I’ve seen a massive change since I have been working with Bob Weir – it’s great that we’ve bought home grown talent back here to coach.”  Sotherton later dropped out of the high jump competition at the height of 1.71m to prevent further injury.  Steph Pywell (Sale) recovered enough from a long term ankle injury to take the title ahead of Trafford’s Kay Humberstone with 1.82m to 1.79m.

The men’s triple jump title was won by Julian Golley (Windsor SEH) for the fifth time with his best leap of 16.07m eclipsing that of Tosin Oke with 16.01m.

Golley said: “I’ve been winning medals longer than one of my competitors has been alive so it’s amazing!”