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Steph Twell beats a Zola Budd record

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Steph Twell
Steph Twell: record-breaker

European Junior cross country champion Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) beat Zola Budd’s UK age 17 best for 1500m while racing to victory at the Catalan Open Championships in the Barcelona Olympic Stadium on Saturday night 2 June.


She knocked more than 2 seconds off her 1500m lifetime best in stopping the clock at 4:10.71, which is 11-hundredths of a second quicker than Budd’s record, which was set at Crystal Palace in April 1984 as she prepared to run for Team GB at the Los Angeles Olympics.


“Steph was awesome,” said Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland senior international Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook AC), who finished third in the same race in 4:14.24, her second-fastest time so far. “We both got a bit boxed at the start but Steph got out of it – and good luck to her!”


Twell – who won a cross country race in Spain the week after she strode to her European title in Italy in the winter – recovered from a slow first lap of 69.23 seconds to reel off laps of 65 and 66 seconds before storming round the last 300m in 49.8 to finish clear of runner-up Dolores Porcel Checa (Spain), who clocked 4:11.05. Spanish Junior cross country champion Rosa Maria Rodriguez Morato was fourth in 4:17.63.


“It was a pretty strong run,” commented Twell’s coach, Mick Woods, performance coach at the UK Athletics Endurance Performance Centre at St Mary’s University Twickenham.


Although her time is almost 10 seconds inside the qualifying standard for this summer’s European Junior Championships, Twell and Woods have yet to decide which distance might best suit her in Hengelo in July. Budd ran the Olympics 3000m in 1984 and Twell’s options stretch up to 5000m.


And the Barcelona experience has whetted her appetite to reach London 2012. She said: “I can’t wait to run a senior race in a stadium like this in London. The atmosphere will be fantastic.”


Mara Yamauchi (Harrow AC), who is preparing for the World Championships marathon in the heat and humidity of Osaka, ran Freihofer's Run for Women 5km in Albany, New York, on 2 June, finishing fifth overall in 15:52, her fastest yet by 27 seconds.


She said: “I am working on improving my speed over shorter distances this month before resuming marathon training proper, so this race was part of my speed training programme. The field was strong and included the defending champion, Benita Johnson, and several Africans and East Europeans. The course starts on a long incline and includes lots of ups and downs and corners so it was quite tough. After 1km I was in 11th-12th place but just ran my hardest and managed to catch up to fourth by 4km. I was working really hard on the last, mostly downhill 1km, but got pipped on the line by one of the Ethiopians, Dire Tune, who seemed to come out of nowhere. That was a big disappointment in an otherwise good race. I’ve learned my lesson for next time!”


Johnson won in 15:22. For the full results, please click here


Next Saturday Yamauchi is running in the New York Circle of Friends Mini 10km. She adds: “As ever the field is world-class with Lornah Kiplagat, Benita Johnson and other top runners competing so it will be good experience for me."



Five UK combined eventers competed at the international meeting in Arles, France, in an attempt to impress the selectors of the various Norwich Union GB&NI teams for this summer’s major occasions … and found themselves coping with winds so strong that one 100m heat was run in +10 metres per second!


Roger Skedd (City of Stoke AC), seeking a place in the European Cup of Combined Events, finished 13th with 7377 points, a PB by 283 points, to go second in the Power of 10 rankings for this season behind Ben Hazell (Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC), who scored 7559 at Desenzano last month. Skedd accumulated 3806 points in the first five events of the decathlon, his best yet first day score by 116 points. Still nursing a bruised heel that has restricted his early season efforts, he sprinted 100m in 10.80 seconds (wind speed: +7.1), long jumped 6.53m (wind: +4.5), put the shot a decathlon best of 13.56m, high jumped a lifetime best of 1.92m and ran his fastest yet 400m during a decathlon, 51.11 seconds. On the second day, he sprinted the 110m hurdles (wind: +1.6) in a legal personal best of 14.41 seconds, threw the discus 41.12m, pole vaulted 4.70m, a PB by 20cm, threw the javelin 59.52m, a massive PB, to rise to seventh overall but closed by running the 1500m in 5:27.53 as the heat took its effect.


Winner Romain Barras (France) scored 8147 points followed by Francois Gourmet with 7925 points, which would have been a Belgian record but for the wind.


The reigning World Junior heptathlon champion Tatyana Chernova (Russia) won the heptathlon with 6768 points, 87 more than Carolina Kluft (Sweden) scored to win at Gotzis in most hostile weather last weekend. Chernova led after the first day with 3906 points: 13.04 seconds in the 100m hurdles (wind: +6.1), high jump 1.82m, shot 13.67m and 200m (wind: +5.2) in 23.59 seconds. On the second day, she long jumped 6.61m (wind: +1.2), threw the javelin 53.43m and ran the 800m in 2:15.05.


Louise Hazell (Peterborough AC), aiming for the European Under 23 Championships, for which the qualifying standard is 5750 points, produced a brilliant second day to finish eighth with 5684 points. She was 12th on 3342 points after a 13.61 seconds 100m hurdles (wind: +4.5), 1.67m high jump, 11.07m shot and 24.97 seconds 200m (wind: +5.2). On the second day, she long jumped 5.98m (wind: +0.2), threw the javelin a lifetime best of 40.31m and ran 800m in 2:19.85.


Jade Surman (Birchfield Harriers), aiming to beat the qualifying standard of 5300 points for the European Junior Championships, made a great second day surge to finish 12th with 5601 points, her best yet by 63 points. After the opening day, she was only 18th among her elders on 3257 points: 13.96 second 100m hurdles (wind: +6.3), 1.70m high jump, 10.87m shot and 25.62 seconds 200m (wind: +6.5). On the second day, she long jumped 6.11m (wind: +2.8), threw the javelin a lifetime best of 38.85m and ran 800m in another PB, 2:20.59.


Ros Gonse (Bedford and County AC), seeking a place in the Norwich Union GB&NI team at the European Cup of Combined Events, was 13th with her best ever score 5596 points – 18 points better than her previous highest, which was wind assisted. She was 10th overnight on 3376 points: a windy personal best of 14.14 seconds in the 100m hurdles (wind: +6.3), 1.67m high jump, 13.10m shot and 25.24 seconds 200m (wind: +6.5). On the second day, she long jumped 5.85m (wind: +2.5), threw the javelin 40.16m and ran 800m in 2:25.83.


Kate Brewington (Havering Mayesbrook AC), also aiming for the European Cup of Combined Events, finished 20th with 4716 points from six events after suffering every combined eventer’s worst nightmare in the long jump. She was 14th overnight on 3307 points from a 14.10 seconds 100m hurdles (wind: +6.3), 1.73m high jump that equalled her lifetime best, 12.02m shot and 26.08 seconds 200m (wind: +6.5). On the second day, she had a full set of three fouls in the long jump but battled on to throw the javelin 39.87m and ran the 800m in 2:25.98. Alas, the long jump denied her a best-ever score.


For the up to date results from Arles please click here


Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers Manchester) opened her pole vault campaign by clearing 4.20m at an international meeting in Saulheim, Germany, on Sunday 3 June. It takes her to the top of this summer’s Power of 10 outdoor rankings.


Gemma Bennett (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), who ran for Norwich Union GB&NI at last summer’s European Championships, was third in the 100m hurdles in 13.45 seconds at an international meeting in Dessau, Germany, on Friday night 1 June.


On the domestic front…


Sophie Hitchon (Pendle AC) improved her UK Under 17 hammer record twice at a Northern Women’s League match at Cleckheaton. Having thrown 50.42m to win the Northern Under 17 title last weekend, she had a great series of 52.13, 52.30, 48.95, 48.20, 51.09, 52.02.


If you are aware of any highlights by UK Athletes home or abroad this weekend, please email the details to UK Athletics Communications Officer Trevor Frecknall at tfrecknall@hotmail.com for inclusion in this article.