Pozzi, Okoye and Whiteman shine in Loughborough

Andrew Pozzi and Lawrence Okoye record further Olympic ‘A’ standards while Anthony Whiteman sets a world veteran record

Andy Pozzi (Mark Shearman)

It was a cloudy day in the Midlands, but a handful of promising performances brightened up proceedings at the Loughborough International.

Competing for the first time since breaking the European age-19 best, Andy Pozzi confirmed his fine form with another victory, this time running 13.44 into a -0.3m/s headwind.

In what could have doubled up as a training session for the all-star Malcolm Arnold hurdles group, Pozzi defeated team-mates Lawrence Clarke (second, 13.58), Jack Meredith (fourth, 14.02), William Sharman (fifth, 14.04) and James Gladman (sixth, 14.32).

“I wasn’t quite as confident coming into today as I was at BUCS but I knew I could do it when it mattered,” said Pozzi, who has missed a few training sessions since his stunning BUCS victory, due to university exams. “I’m pleased with the time particularly given the head wind. It just confirmed what I already knew really – I am in good shape and I am capable of running well under the A standard in any conditions.”

Just 24 hours after breaking the British discus record with 68.24m in Germany, Lawrence Okoye showed no signs of tiredness as he dominated a field that will be a similar quality to the one he’ll likely face at the Olympic Trials.

With several throws in excess of 60 metres, Okoye’s best mark of the day came in the final round. The European under-23 champion threw 65.20m to defeat training partner Zane Duquemin, who threw a PB of 61.33m in second. UK champion Abdul Buhari was third (59.47m) with world finalist Brett Morse in fourth (59.12m).

“There’s a lot more to come,” said the 20-year-old. “I’m still in heavy training at the moment. I’ve got to keep working hard, get my head down and I’m sure that come August I’ll be able to throw pretty far, close to my best if not better.”

But the day wasn’t all about the up-and-comers as supervet Anthony Whiteman broke the world masters M40 record in the 800m. While Gareth Warburton was a runaway winner of the race in 1:46.57, Whiteman was competitive with the rest of the field and finished fifth in 1:48.28, bettering Johnny Gray’s previous record of 1:48.81 set indoors in 2001.

In the women’s event, world 1500m silver medallist Hannah England opened her outdoor season with her first two-lap race for two years. Making her move with 150m to go, she won by more than a second in 2:02.05 – her fastest ever opener for the distance with a run that looked effortless.

While England moved down in distance, 800m specialist Emma Jackson moved up to great effect, winning the 1500m by a clear margin with a PB of 4:11.54.

On a track that is known for favourable sprint conditions, headwinds generally hampered many of the sprint races. But it was a good day for throws with several Olympic qualifiers.

Mervyn Luckwell struck an ‘A’ standard in the javelin with 82.15m. Meanwhile, Mark Dry and Eden Francis both set PBs and Olympic ‘B’ standards in their respective events, Dry taking the hammer with 74.82m and Francis winning the shot with 17.24m.

Elsewhere, Commonwealth silver medallist Eilidh Child was an easy winner of the women’s 400m hurdles with 55.92, and UK junior heptathlon record-holder Katarina Johnson-Thompson was in PB form in the long jump, winning with 6.46m.

The day ended, as is tradition, with the relays, and Martyn Rooney ran a 44.7 anchor to bring the Loughborough team to victory in 3:04.20.

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» See next week’s Athletics Weekly for full coverage from Loughborough

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