On a remarkable fifth morning of track and field action at Birmingham 2022, Nick Miller’s hammer gold led a series of great results for England athletes.
Nick Miller (coach: Tore Gustafsson, club: Border Harriers) defended his title with a fourth-round throw of 76.43m to score the host nation’s only medal of the session. The competition had been slow to get going with even Miller himself struggling with two no-throws as openers. His 'safe' 69.04m in the third round earned him a further three attempts before he unleashed the big mark on his next appearance in the circle. The distance has only been beaten twice in Commonwealth Games history, although he had a nervy moment when Canada’s Ethan Gatzberg landed within seven centimetres of it in the fifth round. Team-mate Joseph Ellis (Jerry Clayton/Colin Boevers, Blackheath and Bromley) was demoted from bronze medal position in the last round but can be happy with fourth in his first major championships with 73.09m. Craig Murch (Lorraine Shaw, Birchfield Harriers) finished eighth with 68.42m.
Morgan Lake (Robbie Grabarz, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) narrowly failed to replicate her medal from Gold Coast as she finished fourth in the high jump. The 2018 silver medallist had to be content with 1.92m, just a centimetre short of her season’s best. She had three unsuccessful attempts at 1.95m, the last one particularly close, which would have guaranteed her a medal. It was also the height at which Jamaica’s Lamara Diston took gold.
Laura Zialor (Julian Reid/Jade Surman, Marshall Milton Keynes) placed eight with a best of 1.85m as he was unable to clear 1.89m. In 11th was Emily Borthwick (Robbie Grabarz, Wigan & District), who cleared her opening height of 1.76m but was unable to step up as the bar rose to 1.81m Lake talked afterwards about her “mixed emotions”. She said:
“I obviously came here with the intention to medal after getting silver in the Gold Coast. I jumped the same height as I did last time but sadly out of the medals just due to a few errors at the beginning, like I was just so nervous coming out here… I’m proud of myself and how I jumped. It’s the best I’ve felt all season.”
Seventh and ninth place for Matt Stonier (Chris and Sonia McGeorge, Invicta East Kent) and Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield Harriers) in the 1500m was no reflection of the incredible performances from both. Amid probably the highest quality-field of the entire Games, both English athletes recorded PBs. The fast pace from the off which resulted in a Games record for Australia’s Olli Hoare pulled eight of the twelve athletes to PBs. In the case of Stonier, his 3:32.50 was a British under-23 best and a three-and-a-half second improvement. Having begun the season with a PB of 3:39.17, he is now the 12th fastest Brit in history.
“I’ve come seventh but I’m so over the moon,” he said. “I’m 20, first major event, first senior champs and it’s just unbelievable… It’s amazing to be part of it. I may be biased but it’s the strongest field here across all athletics events.
Giles, whose most successful event previously has been the 800m, clocked 3:33.56 — a time which would have taken gold at all bar one of the earlier 13 Commonwealth 1500m finals. The field had included the current and former world champions in Jake Wightman and Timothy Cheruiyot, plus world indoor bronze medallist Abel Kipsang.
England’s sole representative in the steeplechase, Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon, Bracknell AC) was eighth in a high-quality race with 8:46.11. Three athletes had run quicker than 8:10 so it was always going to be tough for the athlete with a best of 8:22 to become England’s first medallist in the event since 1996. In the end it was Abraham Kibiwot of Kenya who triumphed with 8:11.15.
England’s women’s 4x100m quartet confirmed their credentials as contenders to defend their title. Asha Philip (Amy Deem, Newham and Essex Beagles), Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Stu McMillan, Sutton and District), Bianca Williams (Linford Christie, Enfield & Haringey) and Ashleigh Nelson (Leon Baptiste, City of Stoke) combined to clock 42.72 for second out of the three automatic qualifiers from their heat. It is 0.26 seconds outside the English record from Gold Coast and they have the option of bringing in 100m bronze medallist Darryl Neita for the final too. Nigeria, just ahead of them with 42.57, were the only team quicker.
Their male counterparts joined them in their final not long afterwards thanks to victory in 38.48. Jona Efoloko (Clarence Callender, Sale Harriers Manchester), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Benke Blomkvist, Sutton and District), Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Ryan Freckleton, Newham and Essex Beagles) and Ojie Edoburun (Stuart McMillan, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) produced safe changeovers to come home within four tenths of the time with which they won gold last time out. Next quickest from that round were Trinidad & Tobago with 38.84 in the same heat. Edoburun said the team were “confident” ahead of tomorrow’s final. He added:
“Before we came out, the goal was to put down a marker, be dominant, everyone trust themselves, go on their marks, run hard. And I feel like we did that.”