England Athletics Senior Champs - Day Two

With Manchester International Selection and Commonwealth Games places still very much on athletes’ minds day two of England Athletics AAA and UK CAU Senior Champs incorporating the England Athletics Senior Disability Athletics Championships meant competition was a good standard despite the blustery, cool conditions.

On a day of great competition, one of the best was the women’s 400m. Maya Bruney (Blackheath and Bromley, John Blackie) looked to have secured gold with 100m to run but Margaret Adeoye (Enfield and Haringey, Linford Christie, Middlesex) had other ideas and hauled her back dramatically in the final 30 metres to nip by for the 53.17 win.

Not to be outdone for drama, the men’s 400 was also decided with the final six or seven strides as Sadam Koumi (Birchfield) cruised by to win in 46.14, while behind him in third Edmond Amaning (Thames Valley, Middlesex) ran a PB of 46.49 after two rounds of the 200. In between the two Ben Snaith (Enfield and Haringey, Mick Graham) was rewarded with a PB of 46.21.

Needless to say, the 200 was as close with a photograph needed to separate first from second. It was Antonio Infantino (Kings College London, Ryan Freckleton) who got the nod, winning the title in 21.14 for the third time. For the record, Amaning had to miss the 400 award ceremony (understandably) to earn another medal – a bronze with 21.26 in the 200m.

Hannah England (Oxford City, Bud Baldaro) completed a rare double at this championships by taking the 1500 in 4:17.84 to add to her 800m gold from the previous day. She was made to work for it though as Kimberley Johansen (Chelmsford) braved the blustery conditions to make the early pace solid (69.4, 2:20.8), whittling the field down to four at the bell (3:12.7). England struck for home with 180m to run and understandably Johansen paid for her bravery, but the GB international had to fight all the way to the line as Jacqueline Fairchild (Preston, Helen Clitheroe, Greater Manchester) surged hard in the final 40m to almost catch England on the line.

Kirsten McAslan (Sale, Trevor Painter, Greater Manchester) flew through the first 200 in the 400H to stamp her authority on the field early on and it proved a successful tactic for the new-to-the-event hurdler. Always a name to watch on the flat thanks to her 52.1 speed, she improved her pre-event best of 59.11, which was just one week old, to 57.31 by the final, putting her fifth fastest in the country for 2017 and looks to have more in the tank yet. She was just 0.01sec shy of the Commonwealth Games standard and will surely be looking to get that. In the men’s event James Forman (Southampton, Andy Forman, Hampshire) survived climbing the last hurdle after looking a runaway winner to clock a season’s best of 50.72.

Distance races are almost always tactical affairs in major championships, even more so when Bedford and its notorious wind is the venue and so it proved in both the women’s and men’s 5000m finals. Six quickly got away in the women’s race, but in the final kilometre that was reduced to three. After the bell, Verity Ockenden (Swansea, Tony Houchin) used her undoubted pace to good effect to run away from her two rivals, winning in 16:36.91, the best part of a minute slower than her best. Likewise, the men strolled through an opening kilometre of 3:07 with not much occurring until Mohamud Aadan (Thames Valley Harriers) said enough is enough at 4km and moved from last to first in the space of a few metres. That reduced the medal contenders to five over the final two laps. At the bell Alex Teuten (Southampton, Roderick Rock) and Steve Mitchell (Bristol and West, James Thie) surged past Aadan who had no response and it was Teuten who hung on to win in 14:54.56.

The exception to that rule was the men’s mile which thanks to Luke Gunn’s opening quarter mile of 60sec was what traditionalists refer to as a true run race. Maintaining a shade of 60sec quarter miles through three laps, Jonathan Davies (Reading, Luke Gunn) gave himself a real chance of cracking the four-minute barrier but despite a 58sec last lap he came up just short with 4:00.58 – great running on such a windy day and good to see.

As usual, the hammer opened the day’s event and it was a super consistent Callum Brown (City of Norwich, Amir Williamson, Norfolk) who emerged a deserved winner in a tightly fought contest with a series of PBs that saw him improve to 69.13, far in excess of his pre-event best of 67.31. The discus was an equally competitive affair with Alan Toward (City of Sheffield, Nick Ridgeon, NE Counties) finding his rhythm perfectly, improving his third round lead of 56.70 with a sold 57.59 in the fifth round.

Meanwhile, kicking the day off on the track was the Isle of Man’s Erika Kelly (Northern, Isle of Man, Steve Partington) who was a comfortable winner in the 3km walk with 13:50.72. The men’s race was won in 12:42.73 by Chris Snook (AFD, Verity Snook, Hampshire), who at 17 was the youngest champion on the day and quite possibly ever at the Inter Counties – historians were flicking through their records all afternoon to find a younger winner. Certainly, the future looks good in this rapidly growing event.

In the women’s high jump Emma Nuttall (Edinburgh, Fuzz Khan) went over 1.86 at the second attempt to equal her season’s best for the victory. But as pleased was second placer Nikki Manson (Giffnock North, Ken Allen) who also cleared 1.86 for an outright PB; and more significantly a Scottish Commonwealth Games qualifying mark, putting both in the reckoning to make the 20-strong team.

Producing your best on the day is always important on a day like this so hat’s off to Jack Roach (Middlesbrough Mandale, Jacqueline Pringle, NE Counties) for his 7.43w win in the long jump (the only windy leap in the top three, unluckily for him!) and also to Nicholas Chiddle (Stevenage North Herts, Samantha Manning) for his 15.50 PB in the seated javelin. He also did a season’s best in the discus, recording 23.60. Danny Nobbs’ (British Wheelchair Athletics Association/City of Norwich, Tim Newenham) 23.27 was also a season’s best in the same event.

And finally we must draw attention to guest thrower New Zealander’sTomas Walsh’s 22.06 in the shot putt – globally speaking the best performance of the weekend and one of the greatest putts ever in Britain. Watch for him next week in London!