Chambers runs European-leading 6.57 in Sheffield

World indoor champion Dwain Chambers wins fourth consecutive national 60m title

Dwain Chambers (Mark Shearman)

If there were any question marks over Dwain Chambers’ form following his shaky performance at last week’s Birmingham Indoor Games, the world and European indoor champion dispelled those today at the Aviva UK Indoor Trials and Championships in Sheffield.

Last week in Birmingham Chambers suffered his first 60m defeat in three years, but when the pressure was on with team spots for the European Indoor Championships at stake, Chambers turned on the afterburners to win the 60m in a season’s best of 6.57.

Chambers, who won his heat in 6.68 and semi in 6.61, held off a strong field in the final as Harry Aikines-Aryeetey guaranteed his place on the team for Paris with a season’s best of 6.64 in second place. The selectors will be left with a headache, however, over who should get the third spot on the team.

Craig Pickering finished third in the final, but is yet to get the qualifying time of 6.65. Mark Lewis-Francis set a season’s best of 6.63 in the heats, but only finished fourth in the final. The much-improved Joel Fearon, who had been unbeatable before today with a 6.63 PB in Birmingham last week, finished fifth in the final with 6.72.

“It’s great to be competing again,” said Chambers. “I’ve got a few more weeks to go until the Euros so I’m keen just to stay injury free, get out there and do really well. Overall I’m pleased with today.”

World junior 100m champion Jodie Williams won the women’s 60m, improving on her own European indoor age-17 best with a 7.24 PB. Bernice Wilson set a PB of 7.25 in second to book her spot on the European Indoors team while 2008 world indoor silver medallist Jeanette Kwakye will have to wait to see if she has done enough for a place in Paris after finishing third in 7.33.

The positions in the final replicated those of the first semi final, which Jodie Williams won in 7.28 from Wilson (7.28) and Kwakye (7.30). In the semi finals, seven women broke 7.40 – a time that won the gold medal at this same competition as recently as 2006.

“I couldn’t ask for more in my first senior race,” said Williams, who became the youngest winner of the UK indoor 60m title since a 14-year-old Sonia Lannaman won in 1971. “I’m just so happy with how it turned out, especially with such a strong field today.”

World champion Jessica Ennis got her weekend off to a solid start in the high jump, winning with 1.88m. Second-placer Isobel Pooley went to No.5 on the UK all-time indoor junior list with a 1.85m PB.

Ennis took two attempts at 1.91m before prematurely ending the competition due to slight tightness in her ankle. She had sailed over all of her previous heights with first-time clearances.

She then went on to compete in the shot, where she finished seventh with 13.86m, 75cm down on the PB she recently set. Eden Francis won the shot with 15.85m, while Sophie McKinna set a UK indoor age-16 best of 14.91m, finishing third.

Pole vaulter Max Eaves is making a habit of producing surprises. Four months ago he set a PB of 5.40m to win bronze at the Commonwealths, and today he added a staggering 21 centimetres to his PB to land a shock win with a 5.61m clearance.

Commonwealth silver medallist Steve Lewis had won this title for the past five years, but today he finished third after being beaten by two younger vaulters. Eaves moved into the lead with his second-time clearance at 5.41m, but Luke Cutts and Lewis bounced back with first-time clearances at 5.51m.

A fired-up Eaves then countered the attack with a first-time clearance at 5.61m, his third PB of the day. Lewis and Cutts both twice attempted 5.61m before moving to 5.70m, but failed to clear the height, leaving Eaves as the surprise winner. With three men over 5.51m, it was easily the highest quality competition ever at the UK Indoor Championships.

Andy Turner lived up to his favourite status in the men’s 60m hurdles, winning with 7.61 and being chased hard by the future generation of sprint hurdlers. Gianni Frankis set a PB of 7.75 in second, with Commonwealth bronze medallist Lawrence Clarke in third with 7.77.

Turner, the European and Commonwealth champion, will not compete at next month’s European Indoor Championships after his extended 2010 season.

Helen Clitheroe produced another strong run to win the 3000m, although this time she had closer company than in Glasgow two weeks ago. Clitheroe won in 8:55.26 to beat Gemma Turtle (8:57.24).

World junior silver medallist Laura Samuel won the triple jump with 13.24m, a UK indoor age-19 best, while Ezekiel Ewulo won the long jump with a last-round PB of 7.60m.

Kelly Sotherton made her eagerly-awaited debut as a 400m specialist, breezing through to the final with a 54.28 run in the semi finals. But tough opposition could come from World and European 800m bronze medallist who ran 53.50 in the semi finals, her fastest indoor 400m run in seven years.

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