Drama all the way to the end

On a night that had everything, Team England brought the curtain down on the athletics competition at Birmingham 2022 to finish with 34 medals.

Across the marathon events and six days of track and field, the team secured seven gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze medals for second in the table behind Australia, smashing the 17 medals won by England in 2018.

The final race of the night, the women’s 4x400m relay, may ultimately have ended in disappointment following disqualification but summed up the thrills and spills of an incredible Games for Team England.

Earlier in the evening, the men’s 800m had been described as a wide-open race with three, four or more in real contention for the gold medal.

After a cagey start, this was anybody’s race, and it would be all about who had the best finishing speed and more significantly who was best positioned with 200m to go. Kenya’s defending champion Wycliffe Kinyamal, who’d run just inside 52 seconds for his second lap, finished first with a time of 1:47.52.

Australia’s Peter Bol took silver medal whilst England’s Ben Pattison (Dave Regan, Basingstoke and Mid Hants) who finally got himself out of the box he had been sealed in earlier in the race, finished the fastest of all to clock 1:48.25.

“I wouldn’t say it was a wonderful run; it was a bit of a shambles of a performance, and I executed my race plan very poorly,” he said. “But the crowd spurred me on in that final straight,” added Pattison, happy to have come out of a race he didn’t run at all well in with a bronze.

“I thought the Kenyan might take it out, but it wasn’t like that at all. That’s the beauty of 800 running. You never know how it’s going to go.”

Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb, Liverpool Harriers) ran a much better tactical race than most, challenging for the gold with 220 metres to go but had to be satisfied with fourth and 1:48.60.

A fascinating women’s long jump was all about the seven-metre line as three athletes peppered that mark with a series of jumps, much to the crowd’s approval. It was the Olympic bronze medallist Nigeria’s Ese Brume who hit it with her last effort, measured as 7.00 exactly, a Games record.

England’s Jazmin Sawyers (Lance Brauman, City of Stoke) opened with a massive 6.84, which she matched with her fourth-round jump to finish fourth. Just behind her in fifth, Lorraine Ugen (Dwight Phillips, Thames Valley Harriers) started with two fouls, jumped 6.60 with her third-round leap to make the cut and then followed that with three more no marks. Her last jump, a marginal foul, was long looking around 6.80+ but it wasn’t to be on this occasion. Abigail Irozuru (Aston Moore, Sale Harriers) didn’t make the cut, finishing 12th with 6.19.

The women’s 1500m was all about who would finish second to Scotland’s Laura Muir (Andrew Young, Dundee Hawhill) such is her dominance in this event globally. That meant the field was happy to amble through the opening two laps, waiting for Muir to take control. The Scot did that with 600 metres to run, instantly splintering the field. Katie Snowden (Herne Hill Harriers) slotted into seventh place and chased hard all the way to the line, finishing with 4:07.15.

In the women’s 5000m, Scotland’s Eilish McColgan (Liz Nuttall, Dundee Hawkhill) earned herself a silver medal whilst England’s Amy-Eloise Markovc (Chris Fox, Wakefield Harriers) ran a superbly controlled race to place a superb fourth in a lifetime best of 14:56.60, her first time inside the magical 15-minute barrier.

Calli Thackery (Nick Bideau, Rotherham) finished 10th in 15:24.82.

Time for the dramatic women’s 4x400m relay.

With three finalists and two medallists (silver and bronze) from earlier in the day in the individual final, the women’s 4x400 relay team was always going to be about how well the English athletes recovered from that amazing morning.

The race for the gold medal between England and Canada provided the answer with England crossing the line first only to be disqualified for a lane infringement.

Gold or not, the race was a tremendous battle to the line thanks to all four members of the team, Victoria Ohuruogu (Christine Ohuruogu, Newham and Essex Beagles), Jodie Williams (Stu McMillan, Herts Phoenix), Ama Pipi (Marco Airale, Enfield and Haringey) and Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow).