02.Jul.10 West Midlands Athletes Strike Gold at the 2010 Aviva UK Championships
Athletes with strong West Midland connections won seven UK titles and an impressive haul of 23 medals when the Aviva European Trials and UK Championships were once again staged at the Alexander Stadium last weekend writes Tom McCook.
More than three years after they finished first and second in the Triple Jump for Great Britain at the 2007 European Championships at the National Indoor Arena, Phillips Idowu and Nathan Douglas, who are both now coached by Aston Moore finished in the same order at this year’s European Trials. Douglas who has been troubled by injury began his season with a modest distance of 15.85 metres in winning the Midland title last month in the familiar surroundings at the Alexander Stadium. On Saturday afternoon, the Oxford City athlete who lives in Birmingham provided clear evidence that he was getting back to his old form when he opened his account with a legal distance of 17.03 metres in the first round of the competition. After beginning inauspiciously with a No Jump, Idowu demonstrated that he had recovered sufficiently from illness earlier in the preceding week to win the competition by just nine centimetres from his training partner with a legal distance of 17.12 metres in the second round.
After narrowly missing out on selection for both the global games in Beijing and Berlin in the last two years Birmingham University graduate Hannah England, who lives in Birmingham city centre made certain that she will not miss out on a third city beginning the letter B for Barcelona when she won an unusually slow 1500 metres in 4:33:23. The 23-year Oxford City runner who is coached by Bud Baldaro was overjoyed after her victory as a delightful antidote to wipe away two bitterly disappointing experiences at the UK Championships. She commented, “In the last couple of years, I have been sat in the corridor crying my eyes out and I was scared that it was going to happen again. It has n’t and I am so happy.”
Hannah’s fellow Birmingham University graduate Celia Taylor (nee Brown) who runs for Coventry Godiva Harriers out sprinted the Commonwealth Champion and World Silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey to earn herself the silver medal after a 57 seconds last lap following a pedestrian initial three laps of the track.
28-year old James Walsh, who now runs for Leeds City AC but was born and lived in Birmingham for the first nineteen years of his life, won his first UK track title late on Friday night. The four times Midland Cross Country champion, who is coached by Mike Baxter, the former England and Great Britain internationalist, made a 15 seconds improvement to his PB when he won the 10,000 metres in 29 mins 04:62 secs. The Midland Cross Country and 5,000 metres Champion’s first question when he crossed the finishing line after 25 gruelling circuits of the track was “Have I won the AAA’s title.” Once he had been given the reassuring news that he had indeed achieved one of his long term goals and that after a lengthy apprenticeship he was now the UK champion, the 28-year old articulated his initial thoughts, “I am pleased with the way that I ran to move through the field but I am disappointed not to get 28:50 which is the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games. Mike and I are now looking for another 10K race ideally in four to five week’s time to attempt to achieve the qualification to represent England in Delhi in October.”
Birchfield Harriers, the host club contributed a quartet of gold medals to the West Midlands tally:
- The 24-year old effervescent heptathlete Louise Hazel ran faster than ever before when she was crowned the UK 100m Hurdles champion by six hundredths of a second in a time of 13.32 secs which shaved more than a tenth of a second from her previous career best performance.
- Her club mate Zoe Derham recorded her fourth consecutive Women’s Hammer national title with a 66.11 metres throw by the 29-year old who thirteen years ago won the England Under 17 title.
- Even though the European Under 23 Discus champion Eden Francis took home gold and bronze medals, the 21-year old Birchfield Harrier, who is coached by her mother Glenys Morton, was not satisfied with her Sunday afternoon’s work despite winning the Shot Put competition with a 16.02 metres put and a bronze medal in the Discus with a 50.47 metres effort. “It was not what I was looking for in either event after working hard over the past few weeks in the build up to coming here.”
- Her club mate Brett Morse, who is coached by the former Olympic Javelin thrower Nigel Bevan, reinforced his status as the UK’s Number One Discus thrower after coming out on top in this discipline by almost two and a half metres with a last round throw which was measured as 61.45 metres.
- Olympian Tom Parsons relinquished his UK High jump title on countback after both the 26-year old Birchfield Harrier and Wakefield Harriers Martyn Bernard cleared identical heights of 2.28 metres.
Birchfield Harriers Scott Rider who is two years younger than Devonish took second place in the Shot Put with a season’s best distance of 18.44 metres. His club mate, Meghan Beesley, the World Junior bronze medallist returned from injury to place runner up in the Women’s 400 metres Hurdles Final in 57.20 secs.
Despite being severely jet lagged after only returning a few days earlier from studying at Florida State University, local girl Amy Harris, who was the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Long Jump champion, unleashed an outdoor best ever performance of 6.39 metres to snatch a well deserved silver medal for the 22-year old Birchfield Harrier.
Royal Sutton Coldfield AC’s 24 –year old Laura Kenney, who is a former European Under 23 champion, finished runner up in the 5,000 metres in a season’s best time of 15 mins 54:57 secs.
A quarter of century after her first attempt at this event, Wolverhampton and Bilston AC’s Olympian, Commonwealth Games medallist and UK record holder 43 year old Dr. Lisa Kehler fought her way through the pain barrier to finish runner up in the 5,000 metres Race Walk in 24 mins 21.92 secs.
Apart from Marlon Devonish and Eden Francis, five other West Midlands athletes also took home bronze medals.
- Coventry Godiva Harrier Tina Brown who is returning to competition after a hernia operation recorded a season’s best time for the 3,000 metres Steeplechase which was within eleven hundredths of a second of the ten minutes barrier.
- 21-year old Birchfield Harrier James Bedford, who is coached by Dave Smith, edged out his club mate and training partner Peter by just ten centimetres with a 67.34 metres throw which reversed the duo’s gold and silver medal placings at the England Under 23 Championship at Bedford a week earlier.
- After a brave attempt to stay with the eventual winner Chris Thompson for the first half of the race, Tipton Harrier Ryan McLeod still had enough in reserve to hold onto third place in the 5,000 metres in 14 mins 12.03 secs.
- Birchfield Harriers 23 –year old Nadine Okyere who is now coached by Joe Caines overcome the handicap of being drawn in the unfavourable outside lane to finish powerfully on the home straight in a career best time of 53.07 secs which will take her into contention for possible England selection in the 4x400m Relay squad for the Commonwealth Games in October in India.
- Her fellow Stagbearer Henrietta Paxton broke her own Scottish Pole Vault record at her third attempt at 4.35 metres in a high quality and thrilling competition which enthralled the spectators in the Main Grandstand.
- Telford AC’s Bethan Partridge finished third in the Women’s High jump with a 1.71 metres clearance.
Buy tickets to the England Athletics Senior Outdoor Championships in Gateshead on the 17-18th July by calling 0191 433 5700.