Bleasdale heads world rankings

Pole vaulter clears 4.77m on opening day of the British Athletics European Indoor Trials and UK Championships in Sheffield

Holly Bleasdale (Mark Shearman)

Holly Bleasdale vaulted her way to the top of the world rankings with a clearance of 4.77m at the European indoor trials in Sheffield. The Olympic sixth-placer had three attempts at 4.90m, which would have been a UK record and put her second on the world all-time list, but she was not close.

Her UK lead came at her third attempt after a first-time success at 4.65m. Katie Byres, Zoe Brown and Lucy Bryan finished in that order behind her, all clearing a best of 4.20m.

Bleasdale said: “I felt really confident in my warm up and I was blowing through all my poles so I knew that I could be on big poles today. I was really happy when I cleared 4.77m on my last attempt, I didn’t quite hook things up how I’d like to but I can’t complain with 4.77m and I know that once I hook everything up I’ll be in a good place.

“It gives me a lot of confidence, I’ve got a few more competitions now and every time I compete I get stronger. I can put all the things I’m doing in training into the competitions and I’m getting better and better at that as I compete. I’m looking forward to getting a few more competitions in before I go to Gothenburg.”

Bleasdale’s performance was the highlight of the first of two days of action, in which athletes placing in the first two with the UKA qualifying standard would be guaranteed a place on the team for the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg next month.

Meanwhile, away from the final action, 400m hurdler Eilidh Child produced the best performance. She clocked 52.06 in the 400m to take 0.41 off the 12-year-old record of Sinead Dudgeon and also moved to third on the world list for 2013.

Asha Philip was similarly impressive in winning the 60m in a PB of 7.15. With a blistering start, she took 0.04 off her best and went to third on the UK all-time list behind Jeanette Kwakye and Bev Kinch.

James Dasaolu, in the men’s 60m, was the third and final athlete to make sure of his selection for Gothenburg. The Croydon Harrier already had the qualifier of 6.60 and he won the 60m, taking two hundredths off that PB. Former world indoor champion Dwain Chambers, who also has the standard, had pulled out beforehand with a back injury. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey was second with 6.69, a time he shared with sprint find of the season Sean Safo-Antwi, who was third.

Matthew Burton produced something of a shock in the long jump, defeating Chris Tomlinson into second. The John Herbert-coached athlete leaped 7.94m – 11 centimetres better than his outdoor PB from last year and six centimetres further than Tomlinson managed.

London-based Nigerian Tosin Oke took a triple jump competition in which four of the first six set PBs. The 2010 Commonwealth champion jumped 16.87m, just two centimetres short of his indoor PB. In second place, Kola Adedoyin added 25 centimetres to his outright best with 16.50m, while third-placed Michael Puplampu was also in career-best shape with 16.43m.

Andrew Pozzi, who has run nine hundredths inside the qualifier of 7.65, had been expected to secure his place on the Gothenburg team. However, the European indoor fourth-placer pulled out after the semi-final stage because of a niggle. In his absence, Gianni Frankis regained the title, clocking 7.73.

David Bishop prevailed after a tightly contested final lap of the 3000m, but the runners were never on target for the European qualifier of 7:50 after a slow opening kilometre of 2:50. Tom Humphries, the leader for much of the race, pushed on the pace to 5:34 at 2000m, but there was still a large group with 200m to go and Bishop had the strongest finish, stopping the clock on 8:06.98, 0.13 ahead of Humphries.

The women’s European qualifying height of 1.92m was never likely to be threatened, but Emma Perkins and 15-year-old Morgan Lake put in fine performances as they battled it out for the win, both sharing a best height of 1.81m. Perkins ultimately denied the combined-eventer the chance to become presumably the youngest-ever title winner at these championships.

Rachel Wallader took the shot put as she and three others of the first five set indoor PBs. Her 16.19m put her 12 centimetres ahead of Shaunagh Brown, who also set an indoor best.

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