29th January 2011

Germany Take Aviva Team Title

29 January 2011

Despite outstanding performances from Jessica Ennis, Mark Lewis Francis, Jenny Meadows and Helen Clitheroe, the consistently impressive German team took the Aviva International Match trophy at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall today, 29 January.

In the first Aviva Series meeting of the year, the elite field were keen to show winter progress and the efforts of their off season training, providing the crowd and BBC viewers with top quality competition to kick off 2011 and the indoor season.

The hotly tipped head to head between Jessica Ennis (Coach: Toni Minichiello) and Lolo Jones (USA) was upset by an outstanding first outing for new British representative Tiffany Ofili, competing for the Commonwealth Select. Ennis took the win, in a confident and strong 7.97, close to her personal best, with Ofili just behind her with 8.04 and Jones left following in fourth with 8.27.

Ennis said: “I’m really pleased. I love competing here. It always goes really well. It’s a great track to run on and I’m really happy to get under 8s again. I ran 7.95 last year and I knew I was in good shape so to come here and do that again shows that I’ve done the right things over the winter.

“I had no idea about Lolo because I was right over the far side. It’s very hard to see. I was just concentrating on my own race. But it’s good to beat her again. I had a slow start myself, not the best so to run that time is brilliant.

The women’s pole vault became an opportunity for a youth revolt with 19 year old World Junior bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale (COM) and 17 year old World Junior Champion Swede Angelica Bengtsson taking the spotlight.

Although German Lisa Ryzih took the competition to the final stages on a lone mission and brought the bar to 4.55m for maximum points and a new personal best.  The youngsters teed up a summer of age-group championships, taking the chance to mix it up amongst senior international competition, with respective 4.48m and 4.41 best heights. 

Ryzih said: “Really good, we had really good winter training so I know I can jump high. After the jump on 66 and 67, I know a 65 is two less for me. I’m very confident for the next competition. In Germany it’s difficult to qualify for the European Championships because there are very strong women pole vaulters but I have a few more competitions before then, so we will see then.”

German Cathleen Tschirch took the honours in the women’s 200m ahead of a chasing Joice Maduaka who had dominated through the first 100m. Tschirch, part of the bronze medal winning 2009 World Championships 4 x 400m team, pushed until the line for 23.86 with Maduaka following in 24.17. Maduaka, who looked fresh after a spell of warm weather training in Florida, will no doubt aim to make it five UK Championship titles at the Aviva European trials in Sheffield on 12-13 February.

Tschirch said: “It was OK. It was the second race for me this year and the time was OK. But I hope to run faster in the next two or three weeks. It was very important for the team to get maximum points. I’m hoping we will do better than last year.”

2009 European U23 silver medallist Nigel Levine (Coach: Simon Duberly) demonstrated some bold running in the men’s 400m going out strong while the men remained controlled to their lanes and taking the lead at the bell.  With a raucous cheer from the crowd on the third bend, Levine kept battling against the chasing Thomas Schneider (GER) but the win wasn’t safe and was stolen on the line by the German in 47.02, Levin clocking 47.22.

Commonwealth medallists Andy Turner (Coach: Lloyd Cowan) and Lawrence Clarke (Coach: Malcolm Arnold) reinforced the strength and depth of British sprint hurdling with a second and third respective finish in the 60m event but were outshone on this occasion by World Champions David Oliver who stormed to victory for Team USA.

Oliver, who made light work of the race, finishing in first with 7.51 and making his run of form 20 races unbeaten, said: “I’m feeling pretty good about that win, it’s a really good opener for the year so that’s great. This is my fourth year at Glasgow and I love running here so really pleased that I got such a positive start to the season.

Turner (7.66), Clarke (7.71)

Leevan Sands (COM) got the better of the triple jump offering , which included three times US Champion Kenta Bell, with a winning leap of 16.18m. Former World Youth champion Ben Williams (Coach: John Crotty) contested well and despite four no jumps managed to take second position with his 15.88m effort.

Ever the showman, Williams put in a camera worthy performance when celebrating his first jump which was in fact a no jump but had looked good enough for the top spot.

Sands said:  “I was a little unhappy about it but I can’t complain because I won the competition. It was not a great jump today and my approach wasn’t right but I’m pretty satisfied with the result.It was good to compete with these guys, some of them are showing excellent form already and I’m just happy to be here in Glasgow and perform.”

2010 commonwealth 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Mercy Njoroge (COM) took advantage of the early pace set by American Karly Hamric using it to execute a tactically astute 1500m and a subsequent win.  Sitting on Hamric’s shoulder early on, the 24 year old kick started her assault in the last quarter of the remaining distance and crossed the line in 4:20.93.

Hamric said: “Yes I was very pleased to win and very surprised as this is the first time I have run indoors. I didn’t expect it at all. And it’s not my event. I usually run the 3000m steeplechase so I’m not used to this event. I’m very happy.

Recently returned from the UKA Altitude camp in Kenya Aviva GB&NI representative Sarah Kelly (Coach: Liz McColgan) couldn’t match the pace of the rest of the field and was left to watch the girls bidding for podium places from 50m behind but the junior athlete set a personal best of 4:35.80 in the process. 

The men’s 800m title went to the fastest man in the field, Commonwealth Champion Lalang Boaz (COM). Boaz held off challenges from UK indoor champion Andrew Osagie (Coach: Craig Winrow) and Robin Schembera (GER) to cross the line marginally ahead with 1:49.16. Obviously emotional with the close nature of the finish, the German punched the air in frustration, not happy with his 1:49.31 finish while Osagie wanted better than third too (1:49.90).

Following a year in the wilderness that is injury and rehabilitation, Marilyn Okoro (Coach: Ayo Falola) returned to the track to reignite the infamous rivalry with 800m sparring partner Jenny Meadows (Coach: Trevor Painter). Despite presenting herself back in the athletics competitive area in great shape she couldn’t match the pace of Meadows.

Meadows powered away from Okoro and Jana Hartmann, to prove the spell of warm weather training in South Africa worked well for her, winning in 2:01.17. Okoro finished in 2:02.99.

The highly anticipated return of World Indoor silver medallist Jeanette Kwakye (Coach: Michael Afilaka) did not disappoint as she ran USA athlete and event victor Alex Anderson very close in her return to international competition. Anderson dominated the dash and clocked 7.31, while Kwakye followed, a whisper behind, with 7.40.

Dan Huling (USA) won the men’s 3000m with a fine outing, giving the crowd in Glasgow a firsthand account of international middle distance tactics.

Although World Indoor bronze medallist Sammy Mutahi (COM) set and preserved a quick pace which gifted him the lead at that point, Huling kick started with three to go with Mutahi unable to respond.  On the edge of their seats as the bell rang, the crowd in Glasgow cheered Hulling on to the win and a personal best of 7:56.68.

Huling said: “It was fun, didn’t know what the race would do, I thought it might be a bit faster but the last 500m was good. This was a great start for 2011, I only have one more race in the indoor season so it’s great preparation for the year and the outdoor season. “

British 3000m steeplechase record holder Helen Clitheroe (Coach: John Nuttall) was outstanding in the women’s 3000m setting a new stadium record and testing her lifetime best of 8:51.02 with her 8:52.31 effort.

 Obviously benefitting from the recent stint of training at altitude at the London Marathon funded UKA camp in Iten, Kenya, the North West based athlete set out on lifetime best pace, extending her lead to over 100m with six laps to go, and managed to maintain all the way to the line.

She said: “I’m delighted to come out and run so well for my first indoor especially as I just came back from altitude training in Kenya on Thursday and was travelling through the night. You never know how you’re going to feel coming down from altitude. I’m really feeling the benefits of training at high altitude. I knew my training had gone well but you can never tell quite how it’s going to feel.”

Laura Kenney (COM) led the chasing group, ahead of Allie Kieffer (USA) until the last possible moment when Kieffer took her chance and denied the lactic to sprint past her rival for second place in 9:08.13.

Mark Lewis Francis (Coach: Linford Christie) finished the match on a high for the Aviva GB&NI team with a blistering 60m success. Following an incredible return to prominence during 2010, collecting three international medals along the way, he claimed the win in 6.66 ahead of USA athlete Ryan Bailey (6.73).

The women’s 400m aided Germany’s match title aspirations, Wiebke Ullmann storming to the line ahead of the field in 54.41. Shareese Woods (USA), 55.20, and Kelly Massey (COM), 55.75, gave a good game but were left wanting as the German flew ahead.

Nadja Kather (GER) won the women’s long jump ahead of USA athlete Funmi Jimoh and Jessica Ennis. The girls recorded 6.58, 6.48 and 6.38 respectively.

The men’s 200m gifted German Sebastian Ernst with maximum points for a 21.21 finish, in a close run race which saw Ryan Bailey (USA) come second in 21.24 and youngster Danny Talbot (Coach: Daniel Cossins) make a good senior debut with 21.39.

The men’s high jump witnessed Jesse Williams win for USA on his second attempt at 2.28m. Tom Parsons achieved 2.25m and after one fail at 2.28m decided to pass and aim for 2.31m which he didn’t manage but had looked capable.