It was a historic day at Leeds Roundhay Park on 24 June - for the first time in 28 years, four British race walkers secured their selection for the European Championships in Berlin. Tom Bosworth (Coach Andi Drake) and Bethan Davies (Coach Andi Drake) became English 20k Walks Champions.
Tom Bosworth (Club: Tonbridge / Leeds Beckett Uni, Coach: Andi Drake) and Bethan Davies (Club: Cardiff / Leeds Uni, Coach: Andi Drake) took the Grand Prix, British and English titles, qualifying for the European Championships in Berlin. Callum Wilkinson (Club: Enfield & Haringey, Coach: Andi Drake) and Heather Lewis (Club: Pembrokeshire, Coach: Chris Jones / Martin Bell) took second places in the British Trial to secure their places on the start line in Berlin, having achieved the qualifying standards earlier this year.
In the men’s 20km, Tom Bosworth went to the front from the start on his home turf and soon established a lead ahead of Callum Wilkinson, Slovak Miroslav Úradník and Cameron Corbishley (Club: Medway & Maidstone, Coach: Andi Drake). Tom passed the 5km mark in 20.27, with the chasing trio 30 seconds behind, but crucially on pace for the 85.00 British and Slovakian qualifying time for Berlin. Tom passed halfway in 41.08 with the chasing pack in 41.53. Soon after the halfway mark Cameron began to push the pace, but before the 13km was shown the red paddle and disqualified. Miroslav and Callum passed the 15km point in 62.57 just under a minute behind Tom, who maintained his lead and cruised home in a course and meeting record of 83.10, to record a hatrick of British Grand Prix titles and his 7th British title. He said, "This is a fantastic event showcasing race walking. I’m so happy to have achieved a record of 7 national titles."
In the battle for the minor medals Miroslav moved ahead of Callum to record a huge pb of 84.09. Callum secured his place in Berlin with a time of 84.21 in 3rd place. Guy Thomas (Club: Tonbridge, Coach: Martin Rush) took 3rd in the British Championships and the Welsh title by clocking his second best ever time of 89.32 to move to 3rd on the UK rankings for 2018. Andrew Millar (Club: Wolverhampton & Bilston) took bronze in the English Championships behind Tom and Callum.
In the women’s 20km, Bethan Davies started quickly and established a lead passing 5km in 23.30. Behind her, Welsh compatriot Heather Lewis went through in 23.56. Gemma Bridge (Club: Oxford City/Leeds Beckett Uni, Coach: Mark Wall) went through 5km in 24.26 alongside Erika Kelly (Club: Northern AC (Isle of Man), Coach: Steve Partington). Bethan passed the halfway mark in 47.36, with Heather in a clear second place in 48.27. Erika went through this point in 49.31 having moved into 3rd place ahead of defending champion Gemma 49.50. At the 15km point Bethan had a comfortable lead (72.07) and hung on to regain the British Grand Prix and British title she last won in 2016 clocking 96.55.
Heather took the silver medal and secured her section for Berlin clocking 99.06 with Kelly 3rd in 101.30 ahead of Slovakian Monika Hornakova in 4th and Ireland Kate Veal who clocked a PB of 102.35 ahead of Gemma who was 2nd in the England Championships (103.27) behind Kelly who took her first England 20km title. Davies said -“I’m happy to have finished in a decent time and secured a place for the European Championships this summer.” Heather enthused, "I am so happy to have qualified for the European Championships."
In the supporting 10km Tom Partington (Club: Manx AC, Coach: Steve Partington) clocked a new pb of 44.04 to move to the top of the UK Under 20 rankings for 2018. Agata Kowalska who is based in Leeds clocked a new personal best of 48.47
England 20km Race Walking champs results
- Tom Bosworth
- Callum Wilkinson
- Andrew Millar
- Erika Kelly
- Gemma Bridge