Roundhay Park in Leeds was witness to a historic day, as 4 race walkers secured selection for the British Athletics team for the London 2017 World Athletics Championships. Tom Bosworth (Coach: Andi Drake, Club: Tonbridge / Leeds Beckett Uni) and Gemma Bridge (Coach: Mark Wall, Club: Oxford City / Leeds Beckett Uni) took the Grand Prix Titles and the British and English titles. The performance of the day came from Gemma who clocked a huge new personal best of 92.33, the second fastest ever performance by a British athlete.
The Women’s race saw a race long battle between Gemma Bridge, New Zealand’s Alana Barber and Bethan Davies (Coach: Andi Drake, Club: Cardiff / Leeds Uni). The trio walked a string first half, with Alana targeting the New Zealand qualifying time of 91.00 for London. The battled together until the 15km point when Bethan slipped off the back of the leading duo. It was Alana that was pushing the pace, but Gemma sat behind her and made her move on the last lap to take victory and a big new personal best. Only Jo Atkinson has ever walked faster. Alana in second just missed her own national record in clocking 92.38.
Gemma said, “I am not sure where that performance came from, I was planning on walking to secure selection. To win against this field is incredible and I am happy to secure my selection for London and to have four of us secure selection today is incredible! Getting a PB was the icing on the cake; it is going to be one awesome summer!”
Behind them Bethan stormed to a personal best and Welsh Record of 93.04, the 3rd fastest time ever by a British Athlete. She said “I am thrilled to have secured my place and to get a Welsh Record was incredible. The support and atmosphere was fantastic and it is great to be part of such a resurgence in British race walking”.
Erica Kelly (Coach: Steve Partington, Club: Northern (Isle of Man)) won the battle for the bronze medal in the British Championships and silver in the England Championships - passing Heather Lewis (Coach: Martin Bell) at the 12km point. She took nearly 6 minutes off her previous best, to clock 1.41.27, which moves her to 4th in the UK list for 2017 and to 11th on the UK-All time list. Most importantly, it was inside the Isle of Man qualifying time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Taking the bronze in the England Championships was Hannah Hunter (Coach: Martin Young) of Manx Harriers in 1.47.29.
In the Men’s 20km, Leeds-based duo on home turf, Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson (Coach: Andi Drake, Club: Enfield & Haringey / Leeds Beckett Uni) went to the front from the start and soon established a lead ahead of Dominic King (Club: Colchester Harriers) and Greek Zacharias Tsamoudakis. The duo passed halfway in 43.50 and wound up the pace the second half. They walked together until the last 100 metres, when in a sprint finish, Bosworth took the victory in 84.58, just a second ahead of Wilkinson, as they both secured their places on the team for London.
Tom said “It was fantastic to take the victory and to secure my selection for London. I can now focus on performing the best of my ability in London on The Mall. It was great that the Leeds public got behind me today”. Wilkinson the World Junior Champion, added, “This year has been such an amazing set of performances, and I am elated to secure my selection to line up on the Mall on the 13th August in front of a home crowd."
Behind them Tsamoudakis pulled away from Dominic in the second half to clock a new personal best of 85.31 ahead of him who clocked a personal best of 86.08, which ranks him 4th in the UK in 2017 and moves him to 19th on the UK All Time list just above his twin brother Daniel (Club: Colchester Harriers) who was disqualified in the second half. In the Junior Men’s 10km, Tom Partington (Coach: Steve Partington, Club: Manx Harriers) produced a big personal best of 45.10 to move to second on the Under 20 Rankings for 2017. In the Women’s 10km Ana Garcia (Coach: Mark Wall, Club: Sheffield and Dearne), clocked 51.53 to move to the top of the Under 17 rankings and to 3rd on the UK Under 17 All Time list.