Day one of England Athletics UK CAU and AAA Senior Championships including Disability Championships produced a selection of quality performances as athletes put the finishing touches to their summer championships programmes and significantly earned spots on the team for next month’s Manchester International.
As ever, the first day was always about the 100m, especially so this year, as the sprinters found the wind very much in their favour… perhaps a touch too much given it often gusted to more than 7m/s before returning to zero for the next race.
There was no way of telling just what was about to occur. However, Kimbely Baptiste (Crawley) wasn’t complaining. She strode through the heats with a windy 11.52, just shy of her best of 11.50, then surged hard in the final 15m of the final to take gold in a windy (no, make that a very windy +7m/s) 11.35 from Hannah Brier (Swansea, Steve Fudge), who ran 11.42.
A similarly favourable breeze blew for the men’s final. Heats and semis in the 10.2-10.3 range hinted at something sharp come the final, and so it proved. Andrew Robertson (Sale, Sam Robertson) quite simply crushed the field, flying to a 10.06 clocking, with a +5.6m/s. Yes, it was windy, but it was as an impressive win as the time suggests.
Needless to say, tactics were order of the day in the distance events, as a 68sec first lap demonstrated in the women’s 800m – not too many were keen to take it on down the back straight into the teeth of the wind. Mari Smith (Birchfield, Bud Baldaro) was the fastest in the field going into the race and she seized the initiative with less than 200m remaining to run away for a 2:09.23 victory, almost all of the running coming in the final 150m.
The men’s 3000m steeplechase was similarly pedestrian early on. Daniel Eckersley (Kingston and Poly, Geoff Watkin) surged to the front after 1km, leading at the bell in 8:07.5 before looking like he might just steal it as he opened up a two-stride lead off the water jump. However, Chris Perry (Vale Royal), who had kept in touch all race, in third and then second, waited until the final barrier to make his move and powered away for a 9:13.95 victory.
The women’s 1500m was an interesting affair, not least because of the large field. For once, everybody was keen to crack on with things and the opening lap of around 72sec made sure this would be a true run race. With pretty much the entire field still in touch at 800 (2:23), it would take a bold move to make secure gold. Enter Jess Judd (Blackburn, Mike Judd). As she has so often proved in the past, she has a tremendous change of pace, which she superbly demonstrated as she surged to the front with around 600m to run and ran right away from her rivals to take the title in 4:18.01.
Earlier in the day, Sophie McKinna (Great Yarmouth, Mike Winch) continued her fine season with a solid series, culminating with a 17.71 win in the shot put, 5cm short of the distance she reached at the Commonwealth Games in April. For real aficionados, it was one of the more notable wins, not least because just last week, such was her need for competition, she found herself taking part in East Anglia League action in Great Yarmouth; at the other end of the scale, next up is the European Champs.
Craig Murch (Rugby and Northampton, Lorraine Shaw) went one better than last year and took gold in the men’s hammer with 66.86. Joe Harris (Manx) retained his javelin title with 67.63.
The cross-wind proved problematic in the triple jump but Jonathan Ilori (Blackheath and Bromley, John Shepherd) got to grips with the conditions better than everyone else and won, albeit with a well below par 15.90.
The competitors fared rather better in the women’s long jump, and Lucy Hadaway (City of York, Matt Barton) clearly found conditions to her liking as her 6.23 was just 2cm shy of her lifetime best. She then produced a legal 6.39 for a massive PB along with a final round 6.33. She needed that, as behind her Alice Hopkins (Oxford City, Marcia Marriott) also jumped 6.39 but lost on countback.
This event includes some fabulous ambulant events, often with performances that rank globally. And so it proved once again. Without any doubt, Sophie Kamlish (Bristol West, Rob Ellchuk) produced the performance of the day, strolling through the prelims of the ambulant 100 in a what would have been a world record 12.86, bettering the 12.88 previous mark. Sadly, the wind on this occasion was just too strong for it to be ratified (+2.2), but such was the comfortable nature of her win, you’d suggest there’s much more to come.
And that indeed was the case. The wind appeared to have calmed down considerably for the final, but Kamlish was equally impressive, if not more so than the heats, clocking a fabulous 12.83. Sadly, just as the gun fired, the wind gusted to 5.1m/s but nevertheless, what a day!
Shane Spence Hudson (TVH, Andre Fernandez) has run quicker this year, but nonetheless his 51.31 win in the ambulant 400m was eye-catching. Smooth and controlled, the 2016 Paralympic fourth placer and world silver medalist suggests here’s much more in the tank and surely he’ll return to 2016’s sub 50sec shape.
In the ambulant competition, Sabrina Fortune (Deeside, Ian Robinson) fired the shot out to a world lead of 13.49, while in the seated shot F56 Ed Clifton (BWAA) produced 10.19, great for his first season in the event.
The England Athletics UK CAU and AAA Senior Championships including disability championships continues in Manchester tomorrow from 11:00.