UK Olympic Trials – 22-24 June 2012 – Young Guns Go For It

It was great to see fifteen Bristol & West athletes competing in the UK Olympic Trials at Alexander Stadium over the period Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th June 2012 and although none of them medalled and probably only one is waiting to hear whether they will get selected for a relay squad the age of the group was such that they will all be back. For all of them the future lays ahead but they will all have learnt a lot from being involved in trials for a home Olympics and rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s greats.

Leon REID finished third in his heat of the 100 metres in 10.85 but now knows what it is like to race Dwain Chambers. Bethan WAKEFIELD was sixth in her heat in the Women’s 100 metres in 12.38 facing current young sprint sensation Jodie Williams.

Emily DIAMOND was next on the track and she chased Christine Ohuruogu home in the first heat, with Emily running 53.52 to Christine’s 52.14. In the final on the Saturday Emily gave it everything and finished fourth in 53.36 – a second outside her PB but probably worth more in the difficult conditions with a strong swirling wind present for all three days of the Championships. Christine Ohuruogu booked her Olympics place with a win: Emily took the scalp of Nicola Sanders but will it be enough to secure a slot on the 4 x 400 metres relay squad?

The Men’s 1,500 metres is probably the club’s strongest event at present so it was no surprise that there were 4 athletes competing in this event. Rich PETERS (newly back from Boston) faced Mo Farah and found third place in heat one not quite enough to make the final as he clocked 3:48.46. Dave BISHOP went one better in his heat to secure a place in the final as he ran 3:48.33 as runner up to Chris O’Hare. In the third Heat Steve MITCHELL decided to keep the pace moving as he had a loaded heat and with only two going through by right was hoping for a fastest loser slot. Despite leading to 1,200 metres it was not to be when eventual winner Andy Baddeley led a charge past. Steve jogged the home straight to finish 11th in 3:56.65 – his slowest 1,500 metres for some time. Mike WILSMORE took a very similar view in the fourth and final heat taking the race to 1,100 metres before Ross Murray took over. Mike finished seventh in 3:49.24 and was also disappointed not to make the final.

In the final of the Men’s 1,500 metres the race went to the form book for the one-two with Andy Baddeley winning from Ross Murray. Dave BISHOP finished seventh in 3:50.24 and again will have been disappointed not to have finished higher having run a 3:37 not too many weeks ago.

New find Omar SIMPSON finished seventh in his heat of the 400 metres in 48.27 which was probably worth more than his current PB of 47.77 given the conditions. Nigel Levine won that particular heat in 45.91.

Our only thrower on display was Christina JONES who told me afterwards that she was disappointed with her thirteenth place in the final. Her best throw of 51 metres came in the second round – but was way down on her PB set earlier this season.

In the Men’s 800 metres the qualifying conditions were brutal (as they were in most events) with only the winner and three fastest losers to go through. Andrew WOODS took his heat out quickly – but probably a little too quickly in the conditions with a 53.99 first lap. 1:46 runner Gareth Warburton took the heat in 1:50.45 as Andrew slowed to fifth place – but nevertheless a great learning experience in what has been for Andrew – like most of the club athletes at the trials – a real breakthrough season already.

In the 3,000 metres steeplechase Charlie MACLEAN ran a solid race and worked through to finish sixth in the final recording 8:56.47 – a time just outside his PB. I am sure Charlie will run quicker before the end of the season.

Theo CAMPBELL is another athlete who has threatened a big breakthrough and he ran an impressive bend in Heat 5 of the 200 metres chasing Christian Malcolm and Danny Talbot as he ran a good bend. However 20 metres along the straight he pulled up clutching his hamstring and could not finish. Afterwards Theo saw the irony of transferring to the 200 metres as he thought it carried less of an injury risk than triple jumping! The eventual third placer in the heat ran 21.19 so a fast time was certainly on the cards for Theo before the injury.

Tom RUSSELL hasn’t been in his best form lately but like most athletes couldn’t resist the lure of the Olympic trials and ran solidly for 14th place in 14:28.67 in what could be his last race in Bristol & West colours.

Lucy BRYAN was our youngest competitor at just 17 and will have been disappointed to have seen her final jump end in failure when well clear at 3 metres 91 centimetres – the bar was knocked off by the pole as all she could do was watch on her way down. Her highest clearance at 3 metres 71 centimetres left her in joint eighth place.

The last athlete to compete at the trials was Imogen AINSWORTH who finished thirteenth in the 3,000 metres steeplechase final in 10:47.8 in only her fourth race at the event. Again an athlete with more to come as she finds her feet and improves her technical skills in the event.

It was great to see so many white vests with the red chest band in evidence and the athletes who were there got a real buzz from competing at the trials – for most of them it was a great learning experience and many of them are likely to be true contenders for Olympic selection in four years time.

Keith Brackstone Reports.