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UK Athletics
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British League / UK Women’s League UK Challenge report

Mo Farah 1, Matt Bowser 1

Discus aces Emeka Udechuku and Kara Nwidobie turned in the outstanding performances at the British League Premiership and UK Women’s League First Division matches, the latest meetings in the UK Challenge series, at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Saturday 7 July.


Despite teams being depleted by international calls, there was no shortage of drama. City of Manchester won the UKWL match by a single point, leading team manager Eric Hughes to gasp: “We can walk on water after that! 14 internationals out and we won by a point.”


The UKWL match ended: 1 City of Manchester 187; 2 Trafford AC 186; 3 Birchfield Harriers 175; 4 Edinburgh AC 166; 5 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 161.5; 6 Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 142.5; 7 Victoria Park Glasgow AC 101; 8 Cardiff AAC 81.


The BAL match finished: 1 Newham and Essex Beagles 313; 2 City of Manchester 310; 3 Birchfield 304; 4 Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 268; 5 Trafford 262; 6 City of Sheffield 252; 7 Shaftesbury Barnet 243; 8 Belgrave 218.


Among the highlights…


100m: Leevan Yearwood warmed-up for the European Junior Championships by taking equal first place for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers in the BAL A race (wind: +0.2) alongside Under 23 Jermaine Downie (Birchfield Harriers), who improved his personal best by a couple of hundredths of a second to 10.53. Darren Chin (Belgrave) won the B race (wind: +2) in 10.49.


800m: In his first race since he suffered a calf injury in mid-May, European cross country champion and 5000m silver medallist Mo Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles) finished second in 1:51.27, five-hundredths of a second behind former Norwich Union GB junior cross country international Matt Bowser (City of Sheffield).


1500m: A couple of hours after his first race in seven weeks, Farah ran his second in fearless style. He led from the gun, doggedly pursued by Bowser, but continually wound-up the pace and finished 25 metres clear in 3:46.5.


High jump: UK Challenge leader Susan Moncrieff (Trafford) won – but only on countback from Under 20 Adele Lassu (City of Manchester) as both cleared 1.80m but went out at 1.83m. Moncrieff than dashed off to the 100m hurdles and finished second in a hand-timed 14.3 behind heptathlete Jade Surman (Birchfield), who was timed at 13.8.


Discus: UK Challenge defending champion and current event leader Emeka Udechuku (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) won with 59.11m, his second-best of this season behind the colossal 63.79m with which he won at the UK Challenge ThrowsFest last Sunday. In the UK Women’s League match, Kara Nwidobie (Trafford) won with 54.49m, also her second-best of this season behind the 59.41m she threw at the ThrowsFest, generally regarded as the best women’s discus competition in the UK for more than a quarter of a century.


Hammer: The competitors were unhappy to be consigned outside the stadium, for health and safety reasons. Simon Bown acted as their spokesman after winning with a season’s worst of 62.80m in the absence of UK Challenge leader Andy Frost: “The circle was so bad that I could turn faster in sand; my hip and ankles are throbbing. And we were throwing uphill. Yet this is supposed to be the best division in the best league in the country. This is the first time I’ve thrown under 66 metres since April, but I came here hoping to close the gap on Frosty in the Challenge. We are three weeks from the World Trials and the last thing I want is to be throwing 6 metres less than my PB.”


Luke Fagan (Enfield and Haringey) earned the BAL Division I Athlete of the Match award at Eton, winning the 200m (wind: +2.1) in 21.07 seconds nine days before he sets off with the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team to the European Junior Championships in Hengelo, Netherlands.


Toby Ulm also sets off for Hengelo with a BAL victory under his belt. The England Athletics Under 20 champion triumphed for Kingston & Poly in the Division Three 400m hurdles at Abingdon in a hand-timed 52.0.