25th June 2010

Aviva European Trials


25 June 2010

For live results from this weekend’s Aviva European Trials and UK Championships – follow this link.

Bathed in sunshine, Birmingham’s Alexander stadium provided a perfect evening backdrop for top class athletics from the Aviva European Trials and UK Championships taking place on Friday night, the first of three sessions over the weekend.

With the heats of the 100m getting the session off to a great start, there was plenty for the core athletics fans to enjoy on an action packed evening in Perry Barr, including injury comebacks, world Junior championship qualifiers and impressive middle distance battles in 800m and 1500m heats.

Main highlights from the session were:

Dwain Chambers (Daniel Plummer) was a dominant force in the 100m heats, easily leading the qualifiers through to Saturday’s semi-final with 10.18 ahead of Croydon’s James Dasaolu (Michael Khmel) who was second fastest from the heats with 10.39. Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis Francis (Linford Christie), Marlon Devonish (Tony Lester) and Craig Pickering (Malcolm Arnold) were also easy qualifiers in their respective heats.

Afterwards, Chambers said: “My aim is just to qualify but if I get rewarded with a sub-10 that’s a bonus. But I don’t want any added pressure on myself. The Trials are difficult for all of us and the main thing is just to qualify.

“You never know what James Dasaolu will do. I didn’t expect Simeon Williamson to beat me last year. Everyone on that start line is capable of winning so I’m not going to take anything for granted.”

In the women’s opening rounds, Joice Maduaka (Loren Seagrave) and Laura Turner (Linford Christie) led the way with 11.47 and 11.48 to win their heats, along with one athlete who received a warm welcome back; 2004 Olympic finalist Abi Oyepitan (Tony Lester) who has missed many years since her Athens best with a string of injury problems. She went on to win her heat in 11.62.

The women’s 400m heats may well have missed Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan), still nursing the injury that ruled her out of last weekend’s Aviva GB & NI team for Bergen, but former World 400m silver medallist Nicola Sanders (Tony Lester) and relay team-mate Lee McConnell (Rodger Harkins) were the athletes in form with 52.78 and 52.41 for first place in their heats, both easing up well before the line.

Both McConnell and Sanders may well have had more than half an eye on the one lap hurdle heats that followed, both having performed impressively over the 400m hurdles at some point in their careers.

Perri Shakes Drayton (Chris Zah) and Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin) dominated their races in impressive style and in turn qualified for Saturday afternoon’s final; Beesley powering to 57.63 and Shakes Drayton easing through in 57.09.

Both sets of 800m heats took place on Friday evening with the men taking the lead with a series of closely-fought races headed towards Saturday’s semi-final stage.

Looking strong in qualifying were Michael Rimmer (Norman Poole), who won his heat in 1:49.79, and James Shane (Martin Brown), the Newham & Essex athlete, winning the third heat in 1:50.32.

The women’s heats started with the sight of defending champion Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) striding to an easy victory in 2:07.32, followed through in the next heat by Vicky Griffiths, the Liverpool Harrier winning in 2:07.49. The following heat saw City of Stoke Youngster Emma Jackson (Alan Morris) cross the line in 2:07.56 first place – just ahead of Marilyn Okoro (Ayo Falola) – the world championship finalist showing solid form following an injury hit winter.

Okoro seemed delighted to be back in contention over the two-lap event once more:

“I always go on feeling and I felt a lot better in that. I’ve got to put behind me how much training I haven’t and focus on what I have done,” she said.

“I’ve worked really hard to get myself back on track. I felt relaxed and comfortable. It means so much to be back racing.”

In the final heat Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) leapt to the top of the qualifiers with an easy win in 2:05.31, dragging Blackburn’s Alison Leonard (Arthur Almond) round to 2:05.60 at the same time.

The men’s semis take place at 17:14 on Saturday afternoon, with the women’s semi taking place earlier in the afternoon at 14:19.

In the final middle distance dual of the evening, Britain’s top female metric-milers kept their cards close to their chests with two close heats qualifying athletes towards Saturday afternoon’s final.

With little to choose amongst the protagonists, it was clear to see tomorrow’s  impressive final line up including Lisa Dobriskey (George Gandy), Steph Twell (Mick Woods), Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) and the resurgent Charlotte Browning are sure to have a fascinating duel with Dobriskey heading the qualifiers in 4:17.22.

In the first of the three finals to take place this evening, James Campbell (Mick Hill) took the UK javelin title with a second round throw of 74m to be reigning national champion ahead of Mervyn Luckwell (Esa Utriainen) who finished third. The Cheltenham athlete was pleased with his consistency in taking the title:

“That was consistent; I’ve had a really good start to the season. I’ve thrown over 76m three times in one competition already this season but I just haven’t got hold of one to qualify for Europeans. It’s always better to have other guys throwing far to push the standard. It’s nice to win but it’s a shame Mervyn wasn’t throwing to his full potential.”

The women’s triple jump title was also decided on Friday with Leicester’s Laura Samuel (Glynis Morton) taking an impressive victory in a PB of 13.52m ahead of Shaftesbury’s Nadia Williams (Keith Fleming) in 13.49m. It was a superb moment for the junior who suffered disappointment earlier in the season when a potential World Junior qualifying triple jump mark was not eligible due to the wind gauge reading being unavailable.

However with her 13.52m easily exceeding the World Junior standard of 13.20m and taking the UK Junior record to new lengths, it was all smiles for the youngster who looks bound for Moncton, Canada in great form.

She said: “I took myself a bit by surprise; I didn’t think I could jump that far. My target was to get 13 and a half metres and I’ve done that today. I was confident. I knew there was a lot of competition but I just wanted to get that qualifier really. I definitely think I’ve got a lot to learn and I can go further.

“I’m happy that I’m going to the world juniors. I’ve been jumping 13 plus in training. I had a couple of no jumps today but I knew I could hit that distance.”

The evening’s final event was the men’s 10,000m final – which as an open race attracted an international field. Winner Stephen Kiprotich took the first place in 27:58.03, but first Brit over the line taking the UK Championship title was Leeds’ James Walsh (Mike Baxter) with 29:04.62 in sixth position overall ahead of Sale’s Anthony Ford in 29:11.90.