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Team Sheffield
Winners: Team Sheffield

1 March 2009


Team Sheffield continued their incredible McCain Indoor City Challenge (ICC) reign with a fifth consecutive win at this weekend’s final, held at UWIC, Cardiff.

The team, kitted out in their now famous purple strip, were helped along by a combined-events  comeback from 2006 Commonwealth bronze medallist Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield)  and a confident win in the shot put from Irish national champion Kieran Kelly (Newham & Essex Beagles).

Ennis, who changed her take-off foot from right to left in the long jump after injuring her ankle early in the 2008 outdoor season, showed a promising return to form despite the technical alternation, winning the combined events long jump with 5.98m. She also has success in the 60m hurdles crossing the line first by a length with 8.25, seven hundredths outside her personal best, and in the shot with 12.99m.

She said: “It’s been going well, I’m back in full training and I’m able to do everything which is really good. I’m just coming to the end of my training programme. I have swapped take off leg in the long jump, because in the high jump and long jump I used the right leg and obviously my stress fracture was in my right foot so I just took a bit of pressure off it.”

Athlete of the match, Kelly equalled the ICC record with his 18.54m throw and believes there is more to come after a successful indoor season, including a impressive 19.02m at the Loughborough Indoor Meeting: “I have a slight problem with my knuckle so the first three rounds I was taking it easy just seeing how my knuckles would hold up. It wasn’t too bad so i decided to push it in the last three. Starting out in 2009, my goal was 19.70m, I didn’t expect to get 19m indoors so I‘d like to see if I can push for 20m”

Victories from rising pole vault junior Luke Cutts (Dearnside), twice McCain ICC 800m champion Catherine Riley (Trafford AC) and the men’s medley relay ,which was boosted with a 2009 debut outing from injury riddled 2006 European 800m bronze medallist Sam Ellis (City of Sheffield) guided Team Sheffield to victory.

But it wasn’t a member of Team Sheffield who wowed the Welsh crowd. Athlete of the match Vicky Griffiths (Liverpool Harriers), looked extremely strong, yet relaxed on the track in the women’s 400m taking a win over Manchester team-mate and forthcoming GB&NI European Indoors team member Jenny Meadows (Wigan AC).

Griffiths, who broke her indoor personal best for the first time since 2003 when she crossed the line in 53.92, said: “I set my personal best six years ago and had nothing since,  it’s a personal best and I feel really good. I think my attitudes changed and I’m just enjoying it and I’m not nervous anymore. It’s good, I’m pleased.”


Jessica Ennis
Ennis is back in full training

Other impressive performances came from:

Manchester’s women’s medley relay team, comprised of Leigh Lennon (Newham and Essex Beagles) Griffiths, Meadows and Kelly Massey (Birchfield Harriers) who dominated the race comfortably and set a new McCain ICC record of 04:56.98.

One event wasn’t enough for Team Edinburgh’s Jayne Nisbet (Edinburgh AC) who recently became Scottish Indoor high jump champion. After opening her McCain ICC competition with an outing in the long jump she took a time-out during that contest, due to a clash of events, to go and win the high jump with 1.78m. Returning for one more jump she finished in fifth with 5.30m and headed over to the triple jump finishing fourth on 12.06m, not bad for a day’s work.

Stacey Downie (Pitreavie AAC) impressed the 200m for Team Edinburgh in 24.76 which was enough to win her heat and the discipline overall. In second place overall was Team Bristol’s Emily Diamond (Bristol & West AC), a highly anticipated 18 year old athlete who recently won the 200m and 60m at the midland championships, who won her 200m heat in 24.97.

Downie said: I felt really good, that’s an indoor personal best! I am really happy how it’s gone this winter, I have had four personal best’s. Now I’m looking for a European under 23 spot this summer.” She said, referring to the Championships due to be hosted in Kaunus, Lithuania this summer.

Harriet Scott (Havering Mayesbrook AC) who ran away with the 1500m title for Team London North, showing confirmed return to fitness after a spell of absence on the track due to injury. Scott lead from the gun to tape, with one notable final push at 60m to fend off Team Sheffield’s Helen Singleton’s (Wakefield Harriers) advances, finishing in 04.30.96.

The medical student said: “I thought I could be in personal best shape today so I was surprised that it wasn’t faster. I was in lane one to start with and I found myself at the front, so I thought ‘I have to push on here otherwise they are just going to be gunning for me.’ ”

In the 60m sprints Team Newcastle pair Annabelle Lewis (Kingston upon Hull) and Bernice Wilson (Birchfield Harriers) won the women’s heats in 7.53 and 7.55 which translated to first and second respectively overall in the event. In the men’s flat London North’s Rion Pierre (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) continued a consistent season finishing in 6.74 and in the sprint hurdles GB&NI Williams Sharman (Belgrave Harriers) took a win for the home team in 7.79.

GB & NI combined events international Kevin Sempers (Trafford AC), who competed for Team Newcastle, triumphed in each of his disciplines and says there is more to come: “I ended up scoring just under the European qualifying standard out at the combined events international in Spain recently so I went back to the drawing board and thought, ‘right, what went wrong in the shot, hurdles, long jump etc’ and tried to learn from it. I’m consistent and I’m trying to make that next step to world class.”

For full results please visit: http://www.uka.org.uk/competitions/indoor-city-challenge/results/