A storming finale for England at Nitro Athletics
Sprinters Erin McBride (Liverpool Harriers, Robert Roberts) and James Arnott (City of Plymouth, Ryan Freckleton) produced barnstorming runs for England in the final Nitro Athletics event in Melbourne on Saturday, to help their team to fourth place on the night and an overall fourth place in the standings, behind Bolt All Stars, Australia and China.
England had lay in sixth place after the first night’s competition, when athletes were still feeling the effects of both jet lag and 23 hours spent on the flight from England to Melbourne, but a strong performance in event two on Thursday had given the team a chance of finishing higher up overall in the finale.
They duly achieved that objective with another fine display, with both Arnott and McBride winning their staggered 100m races and second place finishes from Margaret Adeoye (Enfield & Haringey, Linford Christie), Abigail Roberts (Sheffield & Dearne, Trevor Fox) and Adam Hague (Sheffield & Dearne/ Sheffield Hallam Uni, Trevor Fox) in the 150m and men’s and women’s pole vaults, as well as both the mixed medley and 4x100m events.
Arnott had spent the day unwell and was a fitness doubt for the meeting until just before the start, but produced a super pick up to surge past the rest of the field and take the first England win of the evening.
McBride, who on Thursday had won the 200m with a dipped finish, emulated that run, again lunging for the line and being awarded the victory against her Australian and Japanese rivals by the narrowest of margins.
The meeting had started with another rousing relay performance that threatened to match England’s victory two days previously in the 4x400m, with the medley team of Hannah Williams (Herts Phoenix, Colin Gaynor), Theo Campbell (Birchfield H, James Hillier), Alex Bell (Pudsey & Bramley, Aaron Thomas) and Michael Rimmer (Liverpool Pembroke, John Bigg) pushing Australia all the way to finish second by around 20 metres.
The final relay brought the three match series to a close in fine style, with the Bolt All Stars, again featuring Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt himself, taking the victory, but with England finishing an excellent second with their best performance of the week. Anchored by Adeoye, running her third race of the night, the team of Hannah Williams, Kieran Showler-Davis (Basingstoke & Mid Hants, John Davis) and Confidence Lawson (Shaftesbury Barnet, Clarence Callender) had both out sprinted and out-thought their rivals with the their leg order.
Nitro Athletics, in which England competed at the invitation of their Australian hosts, provided both an innovative new approach to staging athletics meetings, as well as an opportunity for athletes in contention for 2018 Commonwealth Games places to better understand the demands of competing so far away from home.
Team captain Christine Ohuruogu was impressed with what she saw: “It has been fantastic to see so many young athletes enjoying competition and learning about what it is like to not only compete following a long journey, but also better understand the demands of competing at their best with such a short turnaround. Nitro Athletics has been a real success with both athletes and spectators and I have no doubt that it will continue to grow over the coming years. Our team loved it!”
The England team:
- Jo Blair (Luton/ Rugby & Northampton, David Burrell)
- Karla Drew (Sheffield & Dearne, Antonio Minichiello)
- Joe Dunderdale (Sheffield & Dearne)
- Mary Elcock (Oldham & Royton, Karen Williams)
- Adam Hague (Sheffield & Dearne/Sheffield Hallam Uni, Trevor Fox)
- Scott Hall (Gateshead, Sam Stanislaus)
- Gabriel Odujobi (Sale Harriers Manchester, Tony Jarrett)
Abigail Roberts (Sheffield & Dearne, Trevor Fox)
- Margaret Adeoye (Enfield & Haringey, Linford Christie)
- James Arnott (City of Plymouth, Ryan Freckleton)
- Theo Campbell (Birchfield H, James Hillier)
- Confidence Lawson (Shaftesbury Barnet, Clarence Callender)
- Erin McBride (Liverpool Harriers, Robert Roberts)
- Christine Ohuruogu (Newham & Essex Beagles, Lloyd Cowan)
- Kieran Showler-Davis (Basingstoke & Mid Hants, John Davis)
- Conrad Williams (Kent, Lloyd Cowan)
- Bianca Williams (Enfield & Haringey, Lloyd Cowan)
Hannah Williams (Herts Phoenix, Colin Gaynor)
- Alex Bell (Pudsey & Bramley, Aaron Thomas)
- Alison Leonard (Blackburn, Bud Baldaro)
- Michael Rimmer (Liverpool Pembroke, John Bigg)
- Charlene Thomas (Wakefield, Aaron Thomas)
- Jamie Webb (Liverpool H, Rob Denmark/ Adrian Webb)
- Richard Weir (Derby, Spencer Duval)
Getty images; used with permission