Day two of the Müller UK Athletics Championships at the Manchester Regional Arena welcomed a cluster of superb performances and a host of World Championship qualifiers, in a day of mixed weather conditions and considerable winds.
In the women’s 100m, Olympic finalist Daryll Neita (coach: Marco Airale, club: Cambridge Harriers) claimed a memorable victory after taking the silver medal in 2016, 2017 and 2018 with a windy 10.80 (3.8) performance. Four-time winner and world 200m champion, Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) finished in the runner-up spot with 10.87, ahead of Imani Lansiquot (Stuart McMillan, Sutton and District AC), who clocked 11.03.
A delighted Neita revealed afterwards: “I always knew I could do it and it is a great time even though it is with wind and to be British Champion is wonderful. It is not just about what you go through but more about how you deal with it, and this is another stepping stone for me. I do really believe there is no limit to me.
“Making the Olympic final last year was a major achievement for me. Once there, I realised I still had more in me and I wasn’t so happy with the result because I knew I could do more. It is going great with my new coach and I am just super excited for the rest of the season. The British team now is so strong and it is great that we can challenge each other at these champs.”
Jeremiah Azu (Helen Patricia James, Cardiff AC) caused the shock of the day by blasting to a windy 9.90 (+2.5) 100m victory to become the first Welshman in 53 years to win the national crown, in one of the most popular victory of the day. Behind, 2017 and 2018 winner Reece Prescod (Mike Holloway, Enfield and Haringey AC) clocked 9.94 for the silver, whilst Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) registered 9.97.
An emotional Azu exclaimed afterwards: “The last few weeks haven’t been great in terms of preparation for the Champs however, I got through it and my family and coaches are here and I couldn’t do it without them.
“In the semi-final, I lost some forward momentum, and I knew I had to get that second step right in the final and I got out of the blocks extremely well. By the time I hit the 80m mark, I felt really relaxed and knew I was in the lead, and I dipped for my life. I couldn’t believe it; I still can’t believe it.”
Olympic silver medallist, Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) provided a masterclass in tactical running as she bided her time for the first half of the 1500m final, before unleashing her trademark killer kick to comfortably take the metric mile crown she also won in 2015 and 2016 - this time in 4:12.91. 2017 fifth-placer, Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Rob Denmark, Poole AC) continued her return from injury with silver in 4:17.72 to make the Eugene squad, with Sabrina Sinha (Bud Baldaro, Cambridge Harriers) in third in 4:19.76.
Now with her World Championship selection sealed, a delighted Muir explained: “I am really happy with that today and to become British Champion at 1500m again. I cannot afford to ease up and am trying to get something out of every time I run. I was feeling a bit race rusty a couple of weeks ago, so it is nice to get some good races under my belt. Now the training is translating into the races.
“I am training hard and now I am racing well so feel good and with three championships I am training even harder than usual because of the three events. I am very excited for Oregon now and am really determined to get a medal.”
Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh AC) captured the 1500m crown on his tenth appearance in the championships in 3:40.26. The Olympic finalist and world fifth placer finished like a train to hold off 2018 and 2019 champion, Neil Gourley (Giffnock North) who clocked 3:40.38 to snatch the silver medal in front of Olympic bronze medallist, Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh AC), with 3:40.63.
With a spot on the plane to Eugene with Gourley confirmed, the victor said: “I’m very relieved because there have been a few occasions where I have been so close to winning this title, but the main aim was to come top two, however - to be a champ going into Worlds is a real confidence booster so it’s a massive relief.
“It’s tough to be in the 1500m because it’s such a strong event, but I’m confident and currently in the best shape I have ever been, so hopefully I can go out there and try to get myself a medal. The main aim is to get a medal at the worlds, as well as getting another medal at the Commonwealth Games would be an amazing achievement.”
Recent British record holder, Matthew Hudson-Smith (Lance Brauman, Birchfield Harriers) sped to a swift 44.92 stadium record enroute to his fifth national outdoor title. Lewis Davey (Newham and Essex Beagles) and Rio Mitcham (Leon Baptiste, Birchfield Harriers) clocked 46.18 and 46.22 respectively for a personal best a piece for the duo.
With his World Championship spot now guaranteed, Hudson-Smith explained: “I’m thrilled, I did the job that I needed to do, I executed the run to make sure I got that ticket to Eugene.
“It has been very stressful these championships because it’s the first time I have done rounds in a few years, so I was just trying to negotiate them and I did that, now onto Eugene.
Continuing her stand-out breakthrough 2022 campaign, Victoria Ohuruogu (Christine Ohuruogu, Newham and Essex Beagles AC) captured the 400m crown with a 51.45 clocking ahead of Olympian, Nicole Yeargin (Pitreave), who registered 51.69 for the silver medal - both securing their berths on the British team for the World Championships in the process. In the bronze medal position, Laviai Nielsen (Enfield and Haringey) - the 2019 winner - came home in 51.97.
An elated winner said: “It feels surreal, it hasn’t quite sunk in. Now I’m in the spotlight, it feels strange! I’m happy that all the training is really paying off.
“My sister is so knowledgeable and is so talkative, she really helps as she always knows what to say when I’m competing. A great person to have in the corner. I have changed and adapted my individual programme that I think has benefitted my overall performances as of late, which is really pleasing to see.”
Taking his third consecutive 400m hurdles crown, Alastair Chalmers (Matt Elias, Guernsey AC) booked his World Championship team spot and flew to an impressive 49.21 Stadium Record, ahead of Chris McAlister (Marina Armstrong, Thames Valley Harriers) in 49.40, who upgraded his 2019 bronze with silver this time round. 2021 bronze medallist, Jacob Paul (Marina Armstrong, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) replicated that finishing position with 49.89 in third.
A delighted Chalmers exclaimed: “I am over the moon. It was such a big race for me today - two times winner before but today was a stacked final with some quality athletes here. I knew I would need to be on my A game today, so I am buzzing to be on the plane.
“I feel like I have no pressure going to Eugene, I am 22 years old and to just be competing with the names that will be out there is a dream. I will keep working hard. I also cannot wait for the Commonwealth Games and to wear the Guernsey vest. I feel I have a chance to medal there if I keep improving.”
Taking her fifth long jump title, Lorraine Ugen (Dwight Phillips, Thames Valley Harriers) enjoyed a consistent series to capture the gold and her World Championships place with a windy 6.79m (3.9), ahead of Olympic finalist and two-time winner, Jazmin Sawyers (Lance Brauman, City of Stoke AC) - who leapt a windy 6.67m (2.4). Lucy Hadaway (Matt Barton, City of York AC) claimed the bronze with a windy 6.45m (3.1). European indoor 3,000m champion, Amy-Eloise Markovc (Chris Fox, Wakefield District Harriers and AVC) upgraded her 2021 silver with gold in the 5,000m in a 15:37.23 season’s best. With the Eugene qualifying time already under her belt, she will be joined there by runner-up here, Jessica Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn Harriers and AC), who ran 15:38.39 for silver, whilst Sarah Inglis (Lothian AC) claimed the bronze medal with 15:39.55.
Olympic finalist, Harry Coppell (Scott Simpson, Wigan and District Harriers and AC) took his third national outdoor title with a fine 5.75m clearance to book his place on the Eugene team. Adam Hague (Trevor Fox, City of Sheffield) and Lazarus Benjamin (Matt Cullen, Sale Harriers Manchester) cleared 5.40m and 5.30m, respectively for the silver and bronze medals. Improving on fourth place last year, Jamaine Colman (Preston Harriers) registered a fine 8:27.01 lifetime best to eclipse 2020 winner, Phil Norman (Tomaz Pilbersek, Woodford Green and Essex Ladies), who clocked 8:28.86. Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon, Bracknell AC) - the winner in 2018 and 2019 - registered 8:34.47 for the bronze medal.
Retaining his title from the 2021 event, Tade Ojora (Caryl Smith-Gilbert, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) took the 110m hurdles gold medal with a 13.27 (3.8) run to pip Joshua Zeller (Adrian Brown, Bracknell AC) - 13.31. Three-time winner, David King (Tim O’Neil, City of Plymouth AC) claimed the bronze with 13.38.
Zeller, who holds the World Championships qualifying standard, booked his place on the GB & NI team for Oregon 2022 with his top two finish. 2017 and 2019 winner, Naomi Metzger (Aston Moore, Trafford AC) took the triple jump win with 14.17m, ahead of Sineade Gutzmore (Ashton Moore, Birchfield Harriers) - who leapt a 13.36m season’s best and Lily Hulland (Femi Akinsanya, Thames Valley Harriers) with 12.84m.
Taking his seventh national crown, Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson, Border Harriers and AC) threw 73.84m to win the hammer throw and book his Eugene spot ahead of Osain Jones (Liverpool Harriers and AC) and Jake Norris (Paul Dickenson, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) - who reached 69.68m and 68.79m, respectively. Clinching a remarkable eighth title in the discus, Jade Lally (Zane Duquemin, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) - reached an impressive 61.42m in capturing the gold medal. 2020 winner, Kirsty Law (Zane Duquemin, Sale Harriers Manchester) threw 55.18m for the runner-up spot, whilst Amy Holder (Neville Thompson, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) registered 54.54m in the bronze medal position.
Joel Clarke- Khan (Emily Borthwick, Thames Valley Harriers) leapt 2.21m to take the high jump gold medal ahead of David Smith (Ken Allan, Giffnock AC), who cleared 2.18m. Kelechi Aguocha (Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) claimed the bronze medal with 2.18m. 2021 winner, Bekah Walton (David Turner, Loughborough Students AC) retained her javelin title with an 51.87m effort, whilst Emily Dibble (David Turner, Liverpool Harriers) registered a 51.54m personal best for the silver medal. Emma Hamplett (Michael McNeill, Birchfield Harriers) took bronze with 49.02m.
Elsewhere in the field events, Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson, City of York AC) captured his eighth national outdoor title with a strong 20.40m effort in the shot put, ahead of Youcef Zatat (Scott Rider, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), who reached 18.21m, and Patrick Swan (Ryan Spencer-Jones, Cornwall AC)m who cleared 17.24m. Following in his father’s famous footsteps, Elliot Thompson (Greg Richards, Enfield & Haringey) took the decathlon gold medal 46 years after Daley Thompson won the same title, with 7197 points. Caius Joseph (Rafer Joseph, Basingstoke and Midhants) claimed the silver with 7169 points, whilst Jack Turner (Kevin Skinner, Exeter) took the bronze with 7121 points.
In the men’s ambulant 100m, T12 European bronze medallist, Zac Shaw (Leon Baptiste, Cleethorpes) sped to a 10.66 (4.6) victory in front of T38 Paralympic champion, Thomas Young (Joe McDonnell, Loughborough Students AC), who clocked 10.80.
Shaw said: “It feels really good, it’s so good to have Para events included now pretty much every time, British Athletics do such a great job. It’s so good to be selected again for the Commonwealths, it's so great to have the two sports integrated because it puts more media attention on us Para athletes which shows everybody how talented we are as athletes.”
In the women’s ambulant 100m, T38 Paralympic champion, Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood) impressed with a wind-assisted 12.82 (2.5) victory ahead of Ali Smith (Benke Blomkvist, Guilford and Godalming) with a 13.09.
Hahn said afterwards: “I was happy with the start, but the wind was so strong and as I’m a little person I thought it was going to blow me about a little more, but I just put my head down and focused on my technique. I’m very excited to have the Commonwealths in Birmingham, it is going to be incredible in front of a home crowd, it is going to be something special.”
Jodie Smith (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) finished day one of the heptathlon with 3525 points following a 1.77m season’s best high jump and a 24.80 200m personal best. Ella Rush (David Feeney, Amber Valley and Erewash AC) lies in second spot with 3247 points, whilst Jordanna Morrish (Rafer Joseph, Epson and Ewell Harriers) sits in the third place position with 3218 points. The men’s 800m heats lived up to their thrilling expectation with Max Burgin (Ian Burgin, Halifax Harriers and AC) leading the qualifiers following his scorching 1:43.52 in Ostrava last month. 2020 champion, Daniel Rowden (Matt Yates, Woodford Green and Essex Ladies) and three-time winner, Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield Harriers) also progressed to the final, as did 2015 champion, Kyle Langford (Jon Bigg, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) and Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC).
The women’s 800m heats also entertained with Olympic fourth-placer, Jemma Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan AC) and two-time silver medallist, Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) leading the qualifiers for tomorrow’s final. UK indoor champion, Jenny Selman (Lewis Walker, Fife) and 2020 outdoor runner-up, Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn, Enfield and Haringey) were the other notable names to progress. 2020 winner, Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) made it through to the women’s 400m hurdles final with Jessica Tappin (Thames Valley Harriers), Lina Nielsen (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) and Hayley McLean (Chris Zah, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers).