This past weekend the feature event was the Welsh ‘Open’ Championships at UWIC and as is the new trend we had a fair few B&W competitors showing off their talent. But first we must not overlook some unreported performances from last week.
At the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Birmingham Theo CAMPBELL broke the 15 metre barrier for the first time with a giant PB of 15.01 metres. Seemingly at last free of injury Theo is really putting into practice that great experience conveyed by his Coach Paul Weston. Theo went on to confirm his all round abilities with two outstanding victories in the 60 metres with 7.01 & 7.03 clockings. Alyssa SMALL was slightly off her early season form with 8.41 & 8.49 60 metre clockings but is now building up a firm experience base ready for a good season as an Under-17.
At the ‘Vault Manchester’ event Lucy BRYAN opened her season with a solid 3.83 vault but Luke BAILEY would not be happy with his 4.02 vault in the Men’s event.
Over in the USA it was pleasing to see Hollie KNIGHT’s name back on the scene after I think a year’s absence – Hollie ran an excellent 9:55.36 in Lexington (Kentucky).
Then back to the week before we note that Hailey PITMAN jumped another solid 1.70 metres in the High Jump Gala event at Birmingham HPC.
Steve MITCHELL was our outstanding athlete at Cardiff UWIC winning the 1,500 metres majestically and fairly untroubled in 3:50.76. This precedes Steve’s well deserved International call up for a 1500m in Vienna on Tuesday 31st January 2012 so we all wish him well in another step toward the top flight. Coach Keith Brackstone described Saturday’s race as a potential banana skin: Steve arrived expecting a heat on Saturday and then a final with a pace maker on Sunday. Drop outs and illness to James Thie meant that Saturday’s race became a straight final with no pacemaker. Steve’s pre –race tactics were to be on the leader’s shoulder unless it was too slow – in which case he would take it on himself. Adam Bitchell of Cardiff (who Steve trains with on a regular basis) did the honours until Steve opened up with 350 metres to go before cruising home a couple of seconds clear. Probably the favourite on paper beforehand it was a well executed win in a relatively slow race.
Following close behind Steve these days is Mike WILSMORE who won the Southern event at Lee Valley with a 3:53.22 clocking following a heat win in 3:52.98. Both Steve & Mike have run considerably faster indoors recently but these of course were wins at domestic Championship level which counts for a lot.
In the Women’s sprints Hannah WILLIAMS brought her time for 60 metres down by over a tenth to 8.09 but just failed to make the final by one place. What was really good was to see the first appearance of Bethan WAKEFIELD in Club colours. Bethan, a first year under-20, has been out of training for nearly 6 weeks after an ankle injury but decided to try a race to see how her fitness was. She made the final with a sound 8.01 clocking but was a little disappointed not to then go under 8 seconds where she repeated her time of 8.01 again.
So that is two of our recent sprint signings now on the road and I hear that the other Rebecca COURTENAY will be doing the Midland Championships in February 2012 so all is improved at Club level for Women’s sprinters.
Scott BAJERE shone in the Men’s sprints, although many did not spot him wearing an Avon Schools vest. Don’t keep your light under a bushel Scott we need to see you. On the Saturday Scott ran 6.96 in a very tight final following an excellent 6.93 in the Semi. That equals Leon Reid’s leading Club performance of the year and so shows that the Men’s sprint prospects for 2012 are solid (with Theo CAMPBELL also close to 7 seconds the previous week).
In the 200 metres on the Sunday Scott opened with a heat win of 22.71 followed by a semi-final win in 22.76. However in the final he slipped back to 22.99 after failing to put enough effort into the first 100 metres and then losing out in a very close finish. Nevertheless this was an impressive series of 6 races at a high level for Scott. In the 60 metres we welcomed the sight of new boy & Under-20 Elliott PRENDERGAST who made the semi-final and clocked 7.21 seconds. I think Elliott was a little dissatisfied with this run but we were very pleased to see him into the semi’s running in a Club vest amongst the top flight. So don’t worry Elliott, you did impress.
In the 400 metre races Alex FIELDS looked good with his 52.03 clocking but unfortunately Alex was denied a place in the final by a convoluted judgement by the track Officials. John BRIERLY also looked good after recent slight injuries to clock 52.81 seconds.
The 800 metres lacked Andrew DEAN-YOUNG who was on a course so Martin FLOOK cashed in with a 1:58.08 clocking (not bad for a thirty year old) and hurdler Will HARTLEY dipped under 2 minutes for the first time with a PB of 1:59.05. 400 metre runner Kristian STANLEY ventured over 800 metres for the first time and found it tough clocking 2:05.55.
In the field both Hayley PITMAN & Luke BAILEY looked good at opening heights but both went out to close failures at 1.65 & 4.14 both still finishing in the medals showing that even on a bad day they are competitors to be reckoned with.
My performance of the week end was Yannick BUDD’s 60 metre Hurdles win at Loughborough with a national top 10 run of 8.14 seconds. Yannick shelved his training objective of cutting his strides to the first hurdle to 7 but still chopped his PB by .04 secs and now feels that he can get under 8 secs before this indoor season ends. That will put Yannick into UK final contention.
The other top hurdler with Bristol & West interests is Oliver JEFFERIES who won the Welsh Champs Gold Medal with an 8.74 clocking. This was all achieved by training at Whitehall in adverse weather so you athletes who come to the track should note what can be achieved even in dodgy conditions. Olly only tried 3’6” height hurdles just before Christmas so will make a great deal of progress before the end of this season. Watch out Yannick?
In the USA there were two notable runs this week. Imogen AINSWORTH clocked 2:21.26 in Albuquerque (New Mexico) for 800 metres and David BISHOP clocked a very impressive 8:07.65 3,000 metres in Bloomington (IN). Not quite a PB for David but that does put him up to number 2 in the UK just behind Chris GAUSON who narrowly beat him in this race. Dave is apparently scheduled to return to the UK for the UK Indoor Trials so watch out for the Steve Mitchell, Dave Bishop and Mike Wilsmore head-to-head on 11th/12th February 2012 someone will probably need to medal just to be top dog in the club.