With 2018 being a quieter year of athletics, lacking a major World Championships or Olympics, the European Championships in Berlin is taking centre stage. The British Athletics Championships were held over the weekend with athletes hoping to guarantee selection for Berlin. Here is a quick British Champs Review of the middle distance events.
The British trials for the 10,000m were held three weeks ago at the Night of 10,000m PBs at Parliament Hill. The leading two on the night – given the qualifying time had been achieved – were automatically selected. In the women’s race, Charlotte Arter was victorious in 32:15, gaining selection with Philippa Bowden a close second. The men’s race was a hotly contested affair with a breakthrough performance from Alex Yee running an excellent 27:51. Veterans Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson battled out for second place, both running 27:52 and are also likely to join Yee in Berlin.
The trials are often a tactical and nervy occasion. This is accentuated further in the 5,000m which is often left until a last lap burn up, with a lot at stake in this British Champs. In both the men’s and women’s race this was the case. In a highly competitive field, Marc Scott of the US-based Bowerman Track Club ran away from Andy Vernon over the last 100m to win with a 56 second last lap. Vernon once again finished second with Chris Thompson third, both of whom are likely to double up if given the opportunity. In the women’s race, a similar race unfolded. Steph Twell showed a great return to form under her new coaching set-up with Geoff Wightman, winning in style with a surge over the last 300m ahead of Melissa Courtney who will also be guaranteed a place in Berlin.
The strength and depth in British middle distance running is growing year upon year. The standard of men’s 1,500m running especially is at a really positive level. In this year’s British Champs, it was Chris O’Hare who took the title with a flying 38 second final 300m to inch ahead of Jake Wightman who was arguably the pre-race favourite. This places both of them on the plane to Berlin with an interesting selection dilemma for the selectors to choose who to take as the third runner. Charles Da’Vall Grice, Josh Kerr and James all have the qualifying time but finished 4th, 5th and 7th respectively.
Here’s a lesson in where not to be as you hit the bell… _________________________ Really thrilled to get on the podium at the British Championships for the first time. Took a 51.4 last lap to do it off a stupidly timed stumble, but tactical racing is what I love the most about this ruthless sport. _________________________ Next stop…time trial somewhere to take care of the the European Standard! _________________________ #bethoma1 #VTelite #GNAC #totalsportsus #TeamGourley
On her birthday, Laura Weightman took down a strong field to guarantee her place, but second-place finisher Jemma Reekie still lacks the qualifying standard, putting Sarah McDonald in strong contention to be picked for Berlin.
I recently wrote an in-depth review of the state of men’s 800m running in the UK. Given 8 men were under the 1:46.50 standard, it made the British Champs and trials an incredibly interesting spectacle. Unfortunately, one of the pre-race favourites, Kyle Langford, was unable to race due to injury but is still likely to be selected. The race didn’t disappoint as all the top five protagonists who made it to the final fought it out over the final 100m. Having initially being boxed in the race fell into Elliot Giles’ hands as he sprinted away over the final 50m to beat Daniel Rowden to the line; both are guaranteed for Berlin.
There was controversial drama in the women’s 800m which was inevitably won by Laura Muir. Despite being a 1,500m specialist, she is the UK leader and dominant 800m runner. She plans to double in the 8 and 15 at the European Championships and could (maybe should) win both. Shelayna Oskan-Clarke finished second with Adelle Tracey third, both of whom are likely to be there in Berlin. The controversy came after the race where Lynsey Sharp -who finished 5th – claimed Muir had illegally entered the race after the deadline, a claim refuted and proved to be wrong by British Athletics.
British Champs Overview
The 2018 British Champs were another resounded success. Despite small crowds on the Saturday, they picked up for the Sunday and showed a great day of athletics competition.
The full results for the British Champs can be found here.