Katarina Johnson-Thompson led a string of impressive victors on the second and final day of the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships at Arena Birmingham.
Confirmed as the biggest and best British indoor championships for some decades on the back of record athlete entries and tickets sold, many of those in action on a day consisting of 17 finals stepped up when it mattered most to claim domestic silverware and confirm British team spots ahead of next month’s European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
The recipient of some of the biggest cheers of the day – as she appeared for the second time this weekend following 60m hurdles silver yesterday – was multi-international medallist Johnson-Thompson produced a season’s best of 6.46m in round four to add a second consecutive British indoor long jump title to her long list of achievements.
Behind KJT, a best of 6.36m secured Jahisha Thomas a silver medal that ensures she will make her first ever British team having secured the qualifying mark earlier this year, while Abigail Irozuru completed the podium courtesy of a 6.35m best.
One of the races of the day based on the strength of the final’s field, the women’s 400m failed to disappoint as an eyeballs-out affair saw a change of lead late in the day.
Johnson-Thompson’s joint indoor national record holder in the women’s high jump, Morgan Lake was another big name who stepped up once again to secure domestic gold. Lake’s 1.94m was another solid mark following the 21-year-old’s strong entrance to the year.
Among those to take advantage of the opportunity to score qualifying marks for the European Indoor Championships at a highly competitive domestic championship was Sophie McKinna, who entertained the crowd with the best display of British women’s shot putting since 2000 on her way to gold.
She said; “I couldn’t be more happy. It is amazing to break barriers like this [best throw for 19 years], and at the European outdoors I got the best result by a British woman in sixty years. These milestones and barriers will stay with me but for me the most important thing is to qualify for those World Champs by throwing 18m.”
Joining McKinna in Glasgow will be local star Feron Sayers who prevailed in a tight men’s long jump with a 7.72m effort in the penultimate round distancing himself from the other eventual medallists James Lelliott and Reynold Banigo, whilst in the men’s 3000m Chris O’Hare, Andrew Butchart and Charlie Grice seems certain to be the three athletes toeing the start-line in Glasgow next month.
Though they are events that won’t form part of the programme at the European Indoor Championships, both the 5000m race walk and 200m competitions proved to be fiercely competitive affairs.
In the walk showpieces Heather Lewis won a tough women’s 5000m race walk in a personal best of 22:55.15 whilst all eyes were also on multiple British record holder in the men’s equivalent, Tom Bosworth, who underlined his class with yet another comfortable a victory in 19:22.56 despite battling illness in the build-up.
All three women’s 200m medallists recorded lifetime bests in a race won comfortably by Tamworth runner Hayley Mills ahead of Kiah Dubarry-Gay’s and Birchfield Harriers’ Melissa Roberts.
They were just some of what topped-off an action-packed, medal-laden weekend of athletics as places on the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team were booked ahead of the European Indoor Championship in Glasgow with confidence – and expectations – at its highest, for some time.