Relay strong performance for Loughborough at BUCS

Loughborough dominate the relays, winning all four races in Bedford on Monday, as Niall Flannery also reigns supreme in the 400m hurdles

Loughborough men4x400 BUCS 2013 (Mark Shearman)

With wall-to-wall sunshine and light winds, conditions were perfect on day three at the BUCS Championships, writes Emily Moss.

Niall Flannery (Loughborough, pictured above, right) got the day off to a flying start, winning his fourth BUCS title in as many years in the 400m hurdles.

Supremely confident and sporting different coloured spikes, Flannery had overtaken everyone by 250m, despite being in lane three to come home 50m clear in 50.09. Jack Houghton took silver, with David Dempsey (Newcastle) third in a PB of 51.91.

Flannery also played his part in Loughborough’s relay success. Part of the men’s 4x400m team, Loughborough’s victory in that race rounded off their domination of the relays, also having won the women’s 4x400m as well as both the shorter relays.

The men’s 400m was an equally high-quality affair, with Nottingham Trent’s Michael Warner gaining victory in 46.90. Dan Putnam (Loughborough) had led through 200m, but tied up down the homestraight and had to settle for silver, ahead of teammate Christian Byron.

The men’s 110m hurdles provided plenty of drama in the form of two false starts from Edirin Okoro and pre-race favourite James Gladman. This left the door wide open for someone to step up and so they did. Junior David King (Bath) took his chance and recorded a big PB of 14.30 to take glory, ahead of Ben Kelk (Loughborough) and Onajite Okoro (Herts).

It was left for two Olympians to lead the way in the sprints, with Ireland’s Jessie Barr (UWE) emerging triumphant in the 400m hurdles in 58.03 ahead of Emily Bonnett (Southampton), who claimed silver for the second year in a row and Abigayle Fitzpatrick (Liverpool John Moores), who took bronze. Fellow Olympian Emily Diamond, who was part of the GB 4x400m relay squad in London, showed her class with an easy 200m win in 23.87.

The 800m had been highly anticipated as one of the races of the championship, with Irish European indoor 1500m representative Claire Tarplee (Loughborough) going head to head with world junior 800m finalist Emily Dudgeon (Cambridge). Ultimately, however, Tarplee proved too strong for her rivals, sprinting past the field in the final 100m with ease to come home clear to win her first BUCS medal in 2:07.66.

“I was always confident I could finish fast,” she said. “I have been training in Font Romeu and we got a solid block in there, including lots of hills. I am now targeting the World Student Games later this season and also hope to run in the European Team Championships.”

Brunel’s Melissa Courtney was a popular winner of the 1500m, making it a 2013 indoor and outdoor double. The two pre-race favourites Courtney and Gemma Kersey (Middlesex) established a lead before Kersey made a move at the bell. However, Courtney fought back and showed her strength by sprinting clear in the final 100m.

Emily Stewart was a class apart in the 2000m steeplechase, setting a new CBP of 6:36.60.

Bleaken just outside European Under-20 Champs qualifying time at Millfield

Loren Bleaken went to the BMC Young Athletes’ PB Classic at Millfield School on Monday planning to attack the European Under-20 Championships qualifying time, but it wasn’t to be for the reigning British and English Schools champion, as she finished just outside the 2:06 mark, crossing the line in the women’s 800m ‘A’ race in 2:07.48.

The 17-year-old dipped well under the mark when setting her PB of 2:04.59 at the BMC regional race in Exeter. But as her coach Adrian Clover explained, that mark won’t count as the qualifying period is from January 1 and she had the help of a male pacemaker at Exeter.

You can find full results from the meet here.

Cherono sets course record in women’s race at Belfast Marathon

Elsewhere on Monday and Belfast City Marathon action saw Joel Kipsang Kositany claim victory in the men’s race with the Kenyan crossing the line in 2:19.28, almost six minutes slower than the course record set last year.

Fellow Kenyans James Roitich and Freddy Sittuk claimed second and third spots respectively with 2:19.57 and 2:24.39.

At the other end of the scale there was a course record in the women’s race, as Ukrainian Natalia Lehonkova finished in 2:36.50 to shave more than two minutes off the previous mark.

Kenyan Helen Cherono Kosgei followed her home in 2:37.08, while her compatriot Sarah Kerubo finished third in 2:40.13.

Thomas Frazer of St Malachy’s AC was the top Northern Ireland finisher, crossing the line fourth overall in 2:26.24, while North Down AC’s Julie Balmer was also fourth overall in the women’s race, finishing as first Northern Ireland woman over the line with 3:00:29.

» Athletics Weekly has reported from all three days of the BUCS Championships (May 4-6) with full in-depth coverage in the May 9 issue of AW

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