Talented team produce brilliant bests in Bratislava

England Athletics attended the annual Elan Indoor International meeting in Bratislava, with athletes from all over Europe competing. Despite a flight delay meaning the team only arrived at their hotel after midnight there were many excellent performances from the 21 athletes who competed, all acquitting themselves very well.

The race walkers kicked off the programme with two indoor personal bests, with debutant Madeline Shott (Coach: Mick Graham, Club: Belgrave) obliterating her previous best in the 3000m walk with a time of 14-38.11. This was followed by an excellent third place and personal best by Cameron Corbishley (Coach: Andi Drake, Club: Medway & Maidstone) in a classy European field.

The men’s 800m was arguably the closest finish of the day; George Mills (Coach: Jon Bigg, Club: Brighton Phoenix/ Brighton Uni) just pipped Markhim Lonsdale (Club: Crook) to win the competition in a great race, undoubtably one of the highlights of the competition. There was also a great result for England in the women’s event. England Team athletes achieved first, second and third places. Mari Smith (Coach: Bud Baldaro, Club: Birchfield Harriers/ Birmingham Uni) won with a good season opener of 2-04.92 with very strong runs from Emily Thompson (Coach: Luke Gunn, Club: Banbury/ Birmingham Uni) and Tamsin McGraw (Coach: Martin Cook, Club: Amber Valley & Erewash/ Sheffield Hallam Uni).

In the women’s Triple Jump, Naomi Ogbeta (Coach: Tom Cullen, Club: Trafford/ Manchester Uni) had a solid series of jumps, culminating with a new indoor personal best and victory. Alex Russell (Coach: Mike Holmes, Club: Wigan & District/ Liverpool John Moores Uni) achieved a top three finish with a season’s best and just outside her previous best. In the women’s long jump Josie Oliarnyk (Coach: Dominic McNeillis, Club: Halesowen) returned after her debut last year to jump a strong series of jumps peaking round five with an indoor best of 6.16.

In the 60m sprints, Confidence Lawson (Coach: Clarence Callender, Club: Shaftesbury Barnet/Hertfordshire Uni), and Sam Miller (Coach: Leon Baptiste, Club: Preston/ Loughborough Students) led the field in both their heat and the final. Confidence pipped Sam in the final to win with a time just off his personal best with a very respectable time of 6.68. Sam Miller ran a new personal best of 6.72. Both looked like they have much more to give in future competitions. Alicia Barrett (Coach: Toni Minichiello, Club: Chesterfield/ Sheffield Hallam Uni) and Jess Hunter (Coach: Scott Grace, Club: Shaftesbury Barnet) had two really good rounds of the 60mH, both achieving Season’s Best times in the final with Jess running an indoor personal best of 8.45 and Alicia winning the competition with a time of 8.37. In the men’s sprint hurdles Cameron Fillery (Coach: Michael Baker, Club: Woodford Green Essex Ladies/ Loughborough Students) and Jack Hatton-Johnson (Coach: Mark Hatton, Club: Thames Valley/ Bath Spa Uni) competed in the same heat finishing in time of 7.92 and 7.93 respectively, both easily qualifying for the final.

James Gormley (Coach: John Wood, Club: Sheffield & Dearne/ Birmingham Uni) showed great tactical awareness in the 3000m and used a convincing kick to win the race by some distance in the end to show great promise for the remainder of the indoor season.

In the women’s 400m Sabrina Bakare (Coach: Jane Dixon, Club: Shaftesbury Barnet/ Loughborough Students) and Emma Alderson (Coach: Stephen Carroll, Club: Liverpool Harriers/ Loughborough Students) were drawn in lane 3 for consecutive heats. Both led from the front until the final moments when both were just pipped on the line. Both put in extremely credible performances with Sabrina achieving a Season’s Best and Emma very close to her own. The final event of the day was on paper going to be one of the best races for the England Team with Adam Walker-Khan (Coach: John Henson, Club: City of Sheffield) and Sam Hazel (Coach: Jane Dixon, Club: Shaftesbury Barnet/ Middlesex Uni) representing the team in the 400m. Both led from the start, making it a two-horse race, finishing strongly with Sam coming in just in front to win the race.

Team Leader Sarah Friday said, “It’s been a privilege to work with this talented group of young athletes. They acquitted themselves brilliantly, producing a host of personal bests and even more season’s bests. It was extremely pleasing to see our debutants equip themselves so well on the International stage.”

She continued, "Thanks must also go to our wonderful team staff Graham Pilkington (manager), Alison Allee (speed), Toks Adeniji (jumps), Mark Brace (endurance) and our physios Jemma Oliver and Dan Elias for their excellent support to the athletes.”

Coach Alison Allee added, “This has been my first trip abroad with an England Team and I enjoyed the camaraderie of the team and the event, which has been an excellent development opportunity for all the athletes and staff involved.”