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Friday Night at the alex

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Peter Smith


10 July 2009

For results from the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships please click here


Whilst it was a night that heralded the opening rounds of the much anticipated 100m and 400m, it was a couple of hammer throwers that stole the show on day one at Birmingham’s breezy Alexander Stadium.

Taking gold at the Aviva UK Championships & World Trials, was Alex Smith (Sale) with  69.79m, but leading the field albeit with the lighter implement – was younger brother Peter (Kingston Upon Hull) whose 76.67m once again broke the UK Junior record he had claimed just weeks before.

It marked the perfect preparation for both brothers with Alex set to head off to the European U23 Championships in Lithuania on Tuesday, and Peter to follow a week later as part of the Aviva GB and NI team for the European Juniors in Novi Sad, Serbia.

The younger Smith said: “I started slow but I found my rhythm and went for it. There are some big European guys out there at my age who are throwing 77m so I had to get a big throw out there to show what I could do.”

Older brother Alex added: “We had a little competition going between us. We were competing off scratch so he got the better today with his throw!”

Another title awarded on the Friday evening session was the women’s triple jump, and Nadia Williams (Shaftesbury Barnett) was deserving of the title with a PB leap of 13.67m and a strong series with five jumps in excess of 13.60m.

“The competition has shown what I can do,” she reflected, “and there’s plenty more to come. I just want to get nearer to that 14m mark.”

With the 800m set to take place over three rounds in order to replicate championship running, it was a slow start for all involved in Friday’s opener, with athletes dawdling their way to qualification.

In the women’s event, Jenny Meadows (Wigan), Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnett) and Jemma Simpson (Newquay) clocked times between 2 mins 7 secs and 2 mins 9 secs in taking the win in each of their heats. Meadows summarised the thoughts of all three after, commenting:

“In Berlin it’s going to be three rounds too so I didn’t mind. It’s good to come here and simulate the races that will take place at the Worlds.”

From the men, Sam Ellis (Sheffield), Michael Rimmer (Liverpool PS), Chris Gowell (Swansea) and Darren St Clair (Enfield) all progressed, with Rimmer looking a cut above the rest ahead of Saturday.

The women’s 1500m heats didn’t spring any surprises either with Steph Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District); Hannah England (Oxford) and Charlene Thomas (Wakefield) all making it through in relaxed style.

There was an exciting set of heats in the women’s 400m with Christine Ohuruogu putting on a show for the stadium faithful. She nearly did not get going at all however when in the first attempt at starting her race, she pulled up along with the majority of the field convinced the recall gun had fired. It proved to be just an echo however and the start was recorded as “faulty”. When the Newham and Essex athlete did get going, she demonstrated her Olympic champion class and powered round in a swift 51.86.

She was later followed to the final by Kim Wall (Basildon), Vicky Barr (Rugby) and hurdles specialist Perri Shakes Drayton (Victoria Park) who beat the experienced Donna Fraser in taking a rare outing over the flat one-lap distance.

The women’s 400m hurdles was a more straightforward affair. With Shakes Drayton taking on the flat to hone her speed for the European under 23s, Tasha Danvers out injured, leading qualifier for the Saturday final was Hannah Douglas (Milton Keynes). Eilidh Child elected  to miss the championships to prepare for her attempt on the Euro under 23s.

The final of the men’s 10,000 may have closed off the evening, but the stadium remained busy as spectators welcomed the race back into the UK Championship programme and eleven athletes ran inside 30 minutes.

After 2.5km, Andy Vernon (Aldershot Farnham and District) pushed on to see what he could achieve, and looked strong heading through 5km in 14.17.83. Spurred on by the remaining crowd, he used his debut over 10,000m to clock a useful 28.43.40, ahead of Phil Nicholls (Tipton) and Ian Hudspith (Morpeth) taking the UK title.

Other qualifying action:

Early in the programme, the men’s 100m heats went pretty much as expected with main protagonists safely through to Saturdays later rounds.

Leading the qualifiers was Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers) who breezed to victory in 10.20 although Tyrone Edgar (Newham & Essex), Craig Pickering (Marshall Milton Keynes), and Simeon Williamson (Highgate) all impressed in progressing with similar ease.

In the women’s short sprint Joice Maduaka (Woodford Green Essex Ladies) led the way with 11.45 secs ahead of former Olympic 200m finallist Abi Oyepitan (Shaftesbury Barnett) in 11.57.

The men’s 400m was a similar fair with Rob Tobin (Basingstoke), Michael Bingham (unattached) and Richard Strachan (Trafford) all progressing as expected to Saturday’s semi-final stage.