Top sprinting as Fearon clocks 9.96 at England Athletics Championships

Sensational sprinting highlighted a great first day at the England Athletics AAA and UK CAU Senior and Disability Championships at Bedford.

Joel Fearon (Club: Birchfield Harriers, Coach: Michael Khmel) set his stall out early in the day with a legal 10.10 win in his heat followed by a 10.02 slightly windy (+2.3) semi final. Few, however, were ready for the 9.96 he flew to in the final.

“I just wanted to consolidate my 10.04 from two weeks ago,” said a jubilant Fearon who now owns the joint third fastest time ever by a Briton in the UK. “Training has been going really well,” the bobsleigh competitor said, but admitted you can never be too careful about predicting fast times.

Perhaps more significant was the fact he ran three 10.10 clockings or better on the same day, which will have the stat-types amongst us flicking through previous results to see if anything quite so impressive has ever been accomplished before. Certainly Bedford, which so often results in windy performances hasn’t played host to such amazing speed and definitely not legal clockings – Fearon’s 9.96 was right on the limit of 2.0m/s.

“I have to thank my wife Gemima,” he said before consulting with his coach about running the Manchester International on August 17, an event winners are selected for if it fitted into their plans.

The women’s 100m was an equally swift affair with Rachel Johncock (Club: Swansea, Coach: Leon Baptise) taking gold in a windy 11.37, a time which compares favourably with her best this season of 11.57 and lifetime best of 11.45.

Continuing on the speed theme was wheelchair competitor Kare Adenegan (Club: Coventry, Coach: Job King) who scored a huge PB in the wheelchair 100m of 18.50, the No.2 time in the world this year. Definitely it’s a case of watch out in Rio, there’s more to come from this T34 15-year-old.

Not to be outdone, Sophie Kamlish (Club: Team Bath, Coach: Robert Ellchuk), rocketed to a British record in the T44 100m, running 13.26, comfortably improving her 13.35 of just a week before in the Olympic Park. In the longer sprint, Kadeena Cox (Club: Sale Harriers Manchester, Coach: Brian Scobie) confirmed her World No.2 status in the ambulant 400 with a PB of 62.38.

Moving up through the distances on the track, the 800s were both controlled by composed running over the final 400m, with Sarah McDonald (Club: Birchfield, Coach: Bud Baldaro) seizing the initiative at the bell after a relatively sedate opening lap of 64.71. She eased away on the back straight and never looked in any danger, winning in style with 2:04.42, a sub 60 last 400m with all the real running done in the first 200m of that last lap.

Likewise the men’s race saw Max Wharton (Club: Liverpool, Coach Mark Goldie) run 1:51.88 in a gun to tape effort. Comfortable in his heat, Wharton displayed similar composure in a typically cagey affair that saw the field cruise through in high 56s. The race marked a real move on for Wharton, an U23 athlete and certainly suggests his 1:49.21 is ready for improvement.

Championships, of course, are rarely about PBs but all about winning which is a perfect description of the dominance displayed by the steeplechasers, both men and women.

Charlotte Green (Club: Bristol and West, Coach David Taylor) wasted no time in hitting the front, controlling the tempo with a 3:15.8 opening kilometre. Unable to respond, her competitors were left fighting it out for silver and bronze as Green pushed on up front. “I just wanted to win,” she said after crossing the line in 10:23.70. “I’m in sub 10 shape,” she concluded, highlighting a PB 1,500m of 4:19 just a few days prior to Bedford.

In the men’s race Tom Horton (Club: Hallamshire, Coach: Bashir Hussain) couldn’t praise his coach enough for the improvement he has made this year, his first as a steeplechaser. Horton led all the way and even though he describes it as a “cagey affair” early on barely missed his PB of 8:58.57 with 8:58.81. “This is my first year on the track and Bashir just seems to know me and how to get the best out of me,” he enthused. It just might be a case of ‘watch this space’ as he turns that new-found strength and speed to the autumn and beyond.

Back in the now, it had been GB captain Nathan Douglas (Club: Oxford City, Coach Aston Moore) who got things under way with a 15.50 opener in the triple. But he was unable to respond to Ben Williams’ (Club: Sale, Coach John Crotty) 16.07 which secured gold for the Louisville, Kentucky-based student. It’s been an up and down season for Williams who has jumped 16.41 in Florida back in April. Injured, he missed most of the spring and in Bedford managed just one legal jump, understandably cautious on his return to big competition.

As usual, the final action of the day produced a string of great performances as David Omoregie (Club: Cardiff, Coach: Benke Blomkvist) won the men’s 110H in 13.37w and Angelita Broadbelt-Blake (Club: Thames Valley, Coach: Chris Zah) was victorious in the women’s 100H in a windy 13.29, suggesting she’s returning to something like the form that took her to 12.8w last season. “I wasn’t that happy with the run,” she said, “but at least it was a season’s best. I’ve been training well, but haven’t been getting it right in races.”

The competition continues on Sunday at Bedford and will certainly produce more sensational times for spectators and athletes to admire. Get along!

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You can watch footage the 9.96 performance by Joel Fearon here

Full video coverage is available here

Full results from Day One of the England Athletics AAA & UK CAU Senior Championships and England Athletics Senior Disability Athletics Championships are available here