19th June 2011

SPAR European Team Championships


19 June 2011

Day two of the SPAR European Team Championships saw the heavens open above the Olympic Stadium but there were some shining performances from the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team who eventually finished fourth with 289 points behind winners Russia (385), Germany (331.5) and Ukraine (304).


Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas) made a passionate return to the GB fold with an outstanding victory in the women’s 1500m which epitomised the superb team spirit that had shined through all weekend in Stockholm.

Thomas, who endured a frustrating 2010, following her breakthrough 2009 season, showed true passion over the last 100m sprint as she not only out-legged her opponents, but squeezed niftily through a gap between the eventual second the third placed Russian and Ukrainian athletes.

“I made a couple of mistakes and got boxed in a little bit, but I’m so fit and so strong at the moment that I seem to be able to come through and finish great at the moment,” she said.

“I’m just so happy and excited and I know all my family are at home watching and my coach Aaron will be screaming his head off at the TV!

“My aim now is the World Championships and I want a medal. That’s what I aspire to be I don’t just aspire to be the best in the UK I want to be the best in the World and I just beat some of them there.

“I believe I can do it, especially as I’m now a full time athlete, training harder and recovering better. It’s paying off, being able to train harder and go away to altitude, so it’s working. I’ve just ran 4.06 in bad conditions so I know I can smash my PB (4.05) as I’ve been setting PBs in training for the last 3 months.”

Andy Turner (Lloyd Cowan) turned in a superlative sprint hurdles performance with maximum points. Like his team captain the day before, Turner opened the day’s track campaign with a convincing victory in 13.42, albeit in slippery and blustery conditions.

“I’m happy with that in really tough conditions. I felt pretty good until about the seventh hurdle and then you could really start to feel the wind (minus 2.4) and you really hard to fight against the wind and the splashing from the rain which made the conditions really tough.

“I’m happy to have run that time. I’m very happy with where I am right now. Physically and mentally I’m in a good place. It’s great to get maximum points for the Team on Father’s Day especially.”

The relays bought their usual supply of drama to the Aviva GB & NI team at the end of day two.

The women’s quartet of Kelly Massey, Nicola Sanders, Lee McConnell and Perri Shakes Drayton ran impressively with McConnell and Shakes-Drayton matched for the fastest split with 50.6. They finished second although Shakes-Drayton was just a whisker from taking first from the winning Russian squad.

After she said: “The key thing for me was not letting the Ukranian past me.

“Second place is good but first would have been ever better but it didn’t happen this time. I was trying my hardest to catch the Russian girl, another metre and we would have done! It was nice to finish strong.”

However the men’s foursome suffered disqualification following their race. Andrew Steele, Conrad Williams, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck looked good for a strong result going into the final changeover, but a fumble between Bingham and Buck meant the baton hit the floor, and the later disqualification meant hopes of a podium finish evaporated.

After, Andrew Steele reflected: “Relay is as relay does. For me personally it was good to run a first leg and I felt like I had a reasonably good run. Great to run in this stadium with such history behind it and great to be back in the GB team.

“We are a team in the relay and this is nobody’s fault in particular. Relays can be a cruel event and so it proved today.”