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Three UK victories in Italy and France

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Morale-boosting international victories were achieved by UK trio Tim Benjamin, Marlon Devonish and Chris Tomlinson on Friday night, 8 June.


Benjamin (Belgrave Harriers) and Devonish (Coventry Godiva Harriers) succeeded at the Primo Nebiolo Memorial meeting in Turin, Italy.


Benjamin moved up to second in the Power of 10 rankings by stopping the clock at 45.80 seconds, 0.28sec ahead of Andrea Barberi (Italy) with Ato Modibo (Trinidad) third in 46.16.


Devonish won the 100m (wind: +0.6 metres per second) in 10.24seconds ahead of Thomas Dwight (USA), who clocked 10.27, and Zimbabwe's Brian Dzingai (10.30). It is a season’s best by a hundredth of a seconds but means Devonish remains third in the Power of 10 rankings behind his fellow Olympic 4x100m gold medallist Mark Lewis-Francis and European Junior champion Craig Pickering.


Dzingai got his revenge in the 200m (wind: -0.3), winning in 20.29 seconds with Devonish second in 20.55, which takes him to the top of the Power of 10 rankings for this year.


William Sharman (Belgrave) was third in the 110m hurdles (wind: -0.3) in 13.94 second. Yoel Hernandez (Cuba) won in 13.79, a hundredth ahead of Robby Hughes (USA).


UK long jump record holder Tomlinson (Newham and Essex Beagles) made a victorious start with his freshly-repaired passport at the Lille Metropole international meeting in France.


Grounded for a fortnight after customs officers refused to let him fly out of the UK because two pages of his passport were stuck together, Tomlinson celebrated being able to fly again by clearing a season’s best of 8.12 metres.


It came in a series in which four of his six jumps went beyond 8 metres and earned him a morale-boosting win over Nikolay Atanasov (Bulgaria), who was second with 8.10m, and the reigning Commonwealth champion Ignisious Gaisah (Ghana), who had to settle for third place with 8.06m.


New UK javelin record holder Goldie Sayers (Belgrave Harriers) could not reproduce the victorious form she has shown at Loughborough and Glasgow over the past two weekends and finished third with 59.81m. Barbara Madejczyk (Poland) won with 61.66m and Zahra Bani (Italy) was second with 60.17m.


Christian Malcolm (Cardiff AAC) was fifth in 21.12 seconds in the 200m (wind: +0.9 metres per second). French duo David Alerte and Eddy De Lepine dominated, finishing first and second in 20.73 and 20.85.


Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC), the 17-year-old European Junior cross country champion, ran the second-fastest 1500m of her young life, 4:12.32, despite having her left heel ripped out of her running shoe at the halfway mark. It earned her tenth place in a race won by Moroccan Ibtissam Lakhouad in 4:07.91.


Six days after lowering the UK age 17 record set by Zola Budd on her way to the 1984 Olympic Games, Twell survived a tough debut among seniors at international level.


But she handled it with a maturity far beyond her years, explaining: “When I first got clipped I wondered whether I should shove the shoe off but then I thought I would be running unbalanced and probably cause an injury. Having chosen to try and keep the shoe on, I was having to tense my toes to hold it on. So I had no drive. It was quite annoying.”


Having clocked 4 minutes 10.71 seconds in Spain to erase Budd’s record, she clocked 4:12.32 in Lille for 10th place in a race won by vastly experienced Moroccan Ibtissam Lakhouad in 4:07.91 with the European senior cross country champion Teyana Holovchenko (Ukraine) fourth in 4:08.69.


“It was a big learning curve,” added the Hampshire schoolgirl. “It was so aggressive, all about being physically strong like the senior ladies – and I learnt a lot. I’m pleased it was the second-fastest time of my life but I’m disappointed I didn’t find that other gear. I know it’s there, though, and we’re early in the season yet.”


Her 18-year-old Aldershot training mate Emma Pallant finished 12th in 4:13.93 in her first taste of senior international competition and said: “I enjoyed it. I just soaked-up the atmosphere; the crowd was so loud! I felt quite comfortable, trying to cover everything, but it was like sprint, slow down, sprint, slow down.”


There were victories in the Lille pre-programme for two of Pallant’s colleagues among the young athletes on Dame Kelly Holmes ‘On Camp with Kelly’ mentoring programme, supported by Norwich Union. Jess Coulson (Stockport Harriers) won the 1500m in 4:22.65 and Rachael Thompson (Liverpool Harriers) the 800m in 2:08.35.


But both were disappointed with their times. Coulson, who is aiming for this summer’s IAAF World Youth Championships and has a best of 4:21 from a BMC meeting at Stretford, led for the last 800m of her race after the pacemaker took 74 seconds over the second lap. Thompson took the lead 300m from home and was never threatened.