It was a busy day one of the Müller UK Athletics Championships at the Manchester Regional Arena as a number of athletes proved this is where it starts as they kickstarted their summer Championships campaigns at the leading fixture in the domestic track and field calendar.
Wearing the red bib for 2022 UK lead, Victoria Ohuruogu (coach: Christine Ohuruogu, club: Newham and Essex Beagles) began her UK Championships in style as she won her heat in the fastest time of the night - 51.53 - as she finished ahead of Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter, Leigh) who was second in 52.90 and also qualified for the final.
Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey) [52.32], Ama Pipi (Marco Airale, Enfield & Haringey) [52.46] and Zoey Clark (Ryan Oswald, Thames Valley) [52.97] were all among the heat winners with Nicole Yeargin (Quincy Watts, Pitreavie) also advancing for what is expected to be an entertaining final on Saturday.
After recently revising the British record, Matthew Hudson-Smith (Gary Evans, Birchfield) looked in great form as he progressed as the fastest qualifier in the men’s 400m in a time of 46.43, while Alex Haydock-Wilson (Benke Blomkvist, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) and Joe Brier (Matt Elias, Swansea) also looked in strong form as they won their heats to reach the final in times of 46.47 and 46.49 respectively. Elsewhere there were PBs for Daniel Putnam (Blackheath and Bromley) and Rio Mitcham (Leon Baptiste, Birchfield) [both 46.75] who both reached the final.
Hudson-Smith said post-race, “The plan is just to qualify, and I did not need to go crazy, so I just need to run and qualify for the worlds. I have done this for a while now, so I am used to rounds and feeling my way through. I am really buzzing to get the British record; it has been around for 25 years so almost my lifetime, so it is an honour to take it and now it inspires me to go even quicker.”
Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) put in a burst of pace in the middle 600m of her race to easily win her 1500m heat as she aims for the first UK Championships title over the distance outdoors since 2016. She won her heat by a long distance in a time of 4:11.34 with Khahisa Mhlanga (Mick Judd, Herts Phoenix) pulled along to a lifetime best of 4:17.73 for second in the race and second fastest from the heats to reach the final.
She spoke afterwards, “It was really good, I wanted to make sure I made it a hard run in the middle of the race, so hopefully my splits are looking pretty good. Overall, I’m just happy to get through to the finals tomorrow.
“The kick was planned, we wanted to make the most out of running today, it’s all about being in the best shape possible for later on in the year, so can’t really afford to ease up at all and you want to make sure you get the best out of every time you run, which is why I did the hard little time trial in the middle of the race to get some speed into the legs and see whereabouts I was at. I got the job done and into the final.”
Ellie Leather (Jason Michael, Yate) won the second women’s 1500m heat, while Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Rob Denmark, Poole) claimed heat three victory to advance to the final.
Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas, Giffnock North), Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh) made it a Scottish hattrick of wins in the men's 1500m heats.
Gourley looked supreme as he secured victory ahead of Matt Stonier (Peter Mullervy, Invicta East Kent) as both moved into the final with ease after running the fastest of the three heats.
Olympic medallist, Josh Kerr comfortably won his heat in 3:43.41, holding off Jake Heyward (Mark Rowland, Cardiff) for the race win. Meanwhile, Jake Wightman had to make a late surge for the line to win his heat ahead of George Mills (Brighton Phoenix) to progress.
Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers), Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath and Bromley) and Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Stuart McMillan, Sutton & District) were among those to ease their way into the women’s 100m semi-finals.
Olympic finalist, Neita was the fastest to go through after clocking 11.04 (2.8) as she eyes her place on the team for the World Athletics Championships this summer.
She said, “I felt good and very excited to be here again and feel the track again after last year. It was good and I am excited to come back and light it up again tomorrow. My coach just said I eased off a bit; not sure if I should have! I am feeling confident, I have trained hard, and I am super excited.”
Reigning UK champion Asher-Smith won her heat in 11.16 (2.4) and Lansiquot was victorious in heat four in 11.21 (1.5). Hannah Brier (Matt Elias, Swansea), who was recently selected for Team Wales for the Commonwealth Games, was another to progress as she won her heat in a PB of 11.33 (1.7).
As strong tailwinds impacted the times in the men's Ojie Edoburun (Stuart McMillan, Shaftesbury Barnet) came out the quickest as Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet) and Reece Prescod (Marvin Rowe, Enfield and Haringey) were among the qualifiers through to the men's 100m semi-final.
Edoburun clocked a wind-assisted mark of 10.13 (+2.5) to win heat four, while Hughes, Tommy Ramdhan (Michael Afilaka, Bexley) and Jeremiah Azu (Helen James, Cardiff) all won their respective heats in 10.18, all wins-assisted. Prescod, who recently ran 9.93, also advanced comfortably as heat eight winner in 10.22 (1.9).
Josh Faulds (Alex Currie, Shaftesbury Barnet) and Seamus Derbyshire (Nick Dakin, City of Stoke) were the two fastest qualifies for the men's 400m hurdles final after excellent performances in the heats.
Faulds ran a personal best of 50.05 to win heat one and was visibly delighted to have achieved the new best time. Chris McAlister (Marina Armstrong, Thames Valley) was second in that heat in 50.14 to be the third quickest qualifier for the final.
Elsewhere, Alastair Chalmers (Matt Elias, Guernsey) needed a late burst of energy to qualify as the first past the post in his heat, while Jacob Paul (Marina Armstrong, WSEH) and Seamus Derbyshire (50.13) won the other heats to set up a fascinating final on Saturday [15:15].
Pippa Roessler (Mick Woods) won the women’s U20 3000m which acted as a trial for the World U20 Championships Trial. Although she is still to achieve the standard, she took home the title after a strong push to the line.
It was a very close contest as they came into the home straight with Roessler, Emily Shaw (Bob Smith, Wimborne) and Jessica Spilsbury (Trafford) all in contention but the Aldershot Farnham and District athlete took the gold medal. Shaw and Spilsbury both ran personal bests of 9:34.03 and 9:37.31 to earn their spot on the podium.
There was a Championship record for Thomas Bridger (Mark Vile, Cambridge and Coleridge) as he claimed the men's U20 3000m title after winning a stunning late sprint for the line.
He was part of a handful of athletes gunning for the line around the final bend and he emerged with Edward Bird (Mark Pauley, Poole) and Johnny Livingstone (Exeter) vying for gold. He held the inside line and came through in a PB of 8:18.10, with Bird also revising his best to 8:18.22 for silver, while Livingstone earned bronze with 8:18.38. None of the athletes have achieved qualifying marks for the World U20 Championships but will be chasing that standard of 8:10 in the coming weeks.
Elliot Thompson (Greg Richards, Enfield & Haringey) leads the men's decathlon at the end of day one by six points ahead of Jack Turner (Kevin Skinner, Exeter).
Thompson started well with a 11.30 (3.0) in the 100m hurdles, while 7.25m in the long jump and 12.67m in the shot put took him into the lead. He moved back down into second after 1.90m in the high jump, but a very strong 49.98 in the 400m saw him edge it at the end of day one.
Turner had edged it for much of day one after 11.02 (3.0) in the 100m hurdles, 7.31m in the long jump, 12.59m in the shot put, before 1.99m in the high jump catapulted him into the lead, with 50.35 following in the 400m.