6th February 2009

ICC Moves On To Sheffield


06 February 2009

The defending champions step into the fray as the second semi final of the McCain Indoor City Challenge moves to the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield this Sunday. Team Sheffield will be hoping home advantage can drive them towards another final in Cardiff on 28th February, where they could contend for a fourth successive victory.

But first, they must contend with some strong opposition from Team Manchester, Team Sheffield, Team Glasgow, Team Edinburgh, Team Newcastle and Team Cardiff before they can even contemplate maintaining their winning streak.

Among the form athletes Team Sheffield will call upon are Luke Cutts (Dearnside High) and Leon Baptiste (Enfield & Haringey).  Cutts has started the year in great shape setting at personal best of 5.62m at the recent Northern Indoor Championships in Sheffield, earning him selection for the Commonwealth Select for the Aviva International in Glasgow, where he placed 3rd.

2009 Southern Indoor 200m Champion Baptiste, who also represented GB & NI in Glasgow, will double up for Team Sheffield in the 60m and 200m. 

GB & NI multi-eventer Kevin Sempers (Trafford AC) will compete for Team Newcastle a week after his successful third place campaign at the Combined Events international in Spain. He is joined on the running order by up and coming pole vaulter Sally Scott (Gateshead Harriers), who set a new personal best of 4.06m at the Vault Manchester competition early in the New Year and 2008 British Universities indoor champion Chris Kirk (Newham & Essex Beagles) who won the Northern Indoor Championships earlier this season.

Team Edinburgh have drafted national indoor champions to boost their chances of making the final. 2009 Scottish Indoor high jump Champion Jayne Nisbet (Edinburgh AC) will return to ICC competition for Team Edinburgh aiming to improve on last year’s 3rd place in the 2008 ICC high jump final.

She is joined by Graeme Oudney (Pitreavie AAC) who recently won the 800m at the Scottish Indoor Championships and Scottish U20 800m Champion Jenny Tan (Fife AC), who will look to improve on her recent second place at the Scottish Indoor Championships.

2009 Northern Senior Indoor 800m Champion Chris Bryant (Sale Harriers) heads up the team sheet for Team Manchester alongside ICC regular Katia Lannon (Sale Harriers) who will step out for Team Manchester for the fourth consecutive year in the combined-events competition.

They are joined by 2008 English School U19 long jump Champion Alex Russell (Wigan & District H &AC) and Rachael Thompson (Liverpool Harriers) who finished third in her first 1500m outing of the indoor season at the Northern Indoor Championships.

Patrick Halcrow (Thurrock Harriers) is a confirmed starter for Team Cardiff. The combined-eventer Halcrow returns to competition after setting personal bests in the high jump and 60m at the Welsh Indoor Championships early this year.  He is joined on the team sheet by up and coming junior 2008 East Wales 400m Champion Nathan Felvus (Cardiff AAC).

Team Glasgow send Stuart Benson (Ayr Seaforth AAC) and Alisdair Strange (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies) to boost their progression to the final stages of the competition.  Benson, who is in the Royal Air Force, makes his 2009 competitive debut at the ICC in the 60m and 200m. His last outing in 2008 saw him win the 200m at the Scottish Championships with a personal best of 21.40. While Strange set a new personal best in the pole vault at the recent Scottish Indoor Championships, finishing second with 5.00m. Last year the versatile jumper competed in the triple jump for Glasgow finishing second overall with a leap of 14.80m.

ICC Competition Manager Paul Aldridge said: “This year’s McCain Indoor City Challenge promises to give athletes a chance to strive to a new level of performance. With additional performance related prizes, those athletes who prepare meticulously for the series will be rewarded if they can deliver on the day.

“Each year sees the event attract all levels of athletes, from seasoned Great Britain & Northern Ireland athletes to those who are striving to perform at the highest domestic level. Each team has its stars and future stars giving the series a unique mix. I’m sure with the focus of 2012 athletes are using this year’s series as an opportunity to continue that countdown. ”

Nick Vermont, Regional CEO at McCain Foods said: "McCain are delighted to support the McCain Indoor City Challenge which develops and nurtures UK athletics talent. Our consumers understand that we make good, simple food. We feel we have a role to play in promoting a healthy balanced lifestyle. Our partnership with UKA will help develop talent at grassroots level and help to find the champions of tomorrow."

Each match will comprise a full timetable of events for indoor track and field and will conclude with a medley relay. The top three scoring teams in each of the semi-finals will be invited to compete at the ICC Final in Cardiff on 28th February, plus the two best runners up to make eight teams at the final.

The McCain ICC Trophy will be presented to the overall winning team and prize money paid to all athletes in the 1st placed team at the Semi-Finals & 1st, 2nd & 3rd placed teams at the Final. A total prize fund of £20,000 is up for grabs.

Spectator entry is free!