Experience wins over youth at Aviva 2012 Trials as Dwain Chambers beats teenager Adam Gemili over 100m, while Jessica Ennis scores a sprint hurdles and high jump double
Just eight weeks after BOA lifted their bylaw for life-time Olympic bans, Dwain Chambers took one big step nearer to representing Great Britain at the London Olympics by winning the men’s 100m at the Aviva 2012 Trials at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
But despite running a season’s best of 10.25 into a -0.1m/s headwind on a cold and cloudy day in the Midlands, Chambers has still not yet quite done enough to gain automatic selection for the team, as he is yet to dip inside the Olympic ‘A’ standard of 10.18 this year.
Nevertheless, his manner of victory was impressive. In recent weeks the focus had shifted from Chambers and on to youngster Adam Gemili, who ran a 10.08 European age-18 best. Gemili had looked the most impressive through the rounds in Birmingham, clocking 10.27 in the heats and 10.20 in the semis, but Chambers got off to a much better start in the final and was never headed.
Gemili, though, did not crumble under the pressure and held on for second place in 10.29, booking his place on the team. James Dasaolu, the only other British man with the ‘A’ standard this year, finished third in 10.31.
“In a situation like this I have to draw on my experience and that’s what enabled me to win today,” said Chambers.
“I don’t want to let my guard down yet. I’ve still got to get that qualifying time and I’d rather get it from merit rather than the selectors giving me an opportunity. I’d rather go out there and achieve it, and I believe I can do that.
“He [Gemili] is fantastic, and it’s great to see youngsters coming through,” added Chambers of his younger rival. “That’s what gives us old boys a kick up the backside and we need that. And looking at him remembering myself in that position wanting to beat all the old boys, now we’re getting a taste of our own medicine.
“I still feel young at heart, and having a youngster like Adam is fantastic for the sport. I believe he’s going to be a fantastic attribute for the relay and he’s going to do fantastically well in the world juniors.”
Simeon Williamson finished fourth in the final with 10.33, having set a season’s best of 10.29 in the semis. The ‘old guard’ of Christian Malcolm and Mark Lewis-Francis finished fifth (10.39) and sixth (10.44) respectively, while former world finalist Marlon Devonish and Olympic semi-finalist Tyrone Edgar failed to make the final.
Jessica Ennis confirmed her fine form ahead of the biggest competition of her life, winning a sprint hurdles and high jump double at the UK Championships for the first time since 2007.
Both performances were satisfying for different reasons. In the 100m hurdles she defeated UK record-holder and world indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter, after the former American lost her momentum over the final few barriers. Ennis won in 12.92 from Porter’s 13.12.
“It was a great race,” said Ennis. “To win it was brilliant. To know that I’m in good shape and things are moving forward is great.”
Earlier in the day, Ennis had won the high jump with a season’s best of 1.89m, four centimetres higher than the leap she managed when setting her British heptathlon record in Gotzis last month.
The men’s 400m hurdles had been one of the most anticipated events of the weekend, and although times were slow, from a competitive viewpoint it did not disappoint. World champion Dai Greene went out hard and Nathan Woodward stuck with him. But Woodward could only hold on for 300m and began to fade in the final straight as Greene pulled clear, despite clipping the penultimate hurdle.
European under-23 champion Jack Green then came through as European silver medallist Rhys Williams hit a hurdle and fell. Greene won in 49.47 with Green clocking 49.88. Woodward battled the lactic and held on to third in 50.56 with Richard Davenport coming through for fourth (50.70).
Undoubtedly, the most bizarre race at the Trials was the women’s 800m. Just two athletes – Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson – had the ‘A’ standard from this year, which meant that all they needed to do was finish in the top two and not worry about how fast they ran. But instead of playing it safe, Okoro – known for her penchant for front-running – went off like a shot and went through halfway in 57.65 seconds.
She held the lead through 600m, but as the field approached the home straight they began to catch up with Okoro. 17-year-old Jessica Judd moved on to her shoulder, as did European finalist Jemma Simpson. But while that pair duked it out, European under-23 bronze medallist Lynsey Sharp, full of life, came bounding down the straight on the outside to steal the victory in stunning fashion in 2:01.72.
Simpson out-dipped Judd for second, 2:02.29 to 2:02.30, while junior athlete Emily Dudgeon finished well to take fourth ahead of a fast-fading Okoro. Jackson, who last week fractured a rib, was seventh in 2:05.83.
UK leader Abi Oyepitan had been favoured to win the women’s 100m but she withdrew from the final, presumably to save herself for tomorrow’s 200m, her preferred event. It was a close race in her absence with Ashleigh Nelson taking a narrow win in 11.50 (-0.6m/s) from Anyika Onuora (11.51) and Montell Douglas (11.52).
But world junior champion Jodie Williams – whose preparations for this year have been hit by injury – pulled up some 30 metres from the finish line, clearly in pain and devastated that her Olympic dreams were over.
The women’s 400m and men’s 1500m were two of the more clear-cut events of the weekend in terms of selection. In the one-lap sprint, defending Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu won easily in 51.89 from Shana Cox (52.87), both booking their places on the team.
In the metric mile, Andy Baddeley came through strong at the end to maintain his unbeaten streak this year, defeating breakthrough athlete Ross Murray – 3:47.99 to 3:48.20. Both athletes will be automatically selected for the Games.
The final event of the second day was the women’s 10,000m – which, like the men’s event last night, featured some top Ethiopian athletes. Former world silver medallist Worknesh Kidane and Meselech Melkamu, the second-fastest woman of all-time over the distance, quickly established a big lead over a depleted British field.
They reached halfway in 15:44, after which Kidane moved into the lead. Melkamu dropped out a few laps later, leaving Kidane out on her own with Caryl Jones in pursuit. Kidane, having also won this event last year, duly went on to win in 31:28.21 with Jones finishing the top Briton in second with a big PB of 32:52.53.
UK record-holder Sophie Hitchon smashed the championship record in the hammer with 69.59m, winning by almost four metres from Zoe Derham (66.02m). She was the first athlete of the weekend to gain automatic selection for the Olympic team, having already been in possession of an ‘A’ standard.
She was closely followed on to the team by Steve Lewis, who won the pole vault with 5.50m, and world leader Greg Rutherford, who won the long jump with 8.12m – one of three leaps over eight metres. Joint UK record-holder Chris Tomlinson was narrowly beaten by club-mate JJ Jegede into third, 7.90m to 7.89m.
In the absence of UK leader Mervyn Luckwell, Lee Doran successfully defended his title in the javelin, winning with a PB of 79.72m and putting himself in line for Olympic selection with a ‘B’ standard. Selectors will now have to choose between him and Luckwell, who boasts two ‘A’ standards. Finishing second behind Doran was 50-year-old Roald Bradstock – an Olympic finalist in 1984 – with 72.78m.
Luke Gunn was another athlete to defend his title. He won the steeplechase in 8:42.20, but as he only has one ‘B’ standard from this year, his place on the Olympic team is not guaranteed. Veteran Stuart Stokes, who has two ‘B’ standard, is also selectable but skipped the Trials to instead focus on next week’s European Championships.
Following the late withdrawal of European champion Phillips Idowu, Larry Achike won his second successive UK title in the triple jump with 16.19m.
Eden Francis won a shot and discus double with respective marks of 16.13m and 53.09m.
The first round of the men’s 400m was particularly brutal with just the winners of each of the four heats guaranteed their place in the final. European indoor finalists Richard Strachan and Richard Buck were made to sweat it out after finishing third and fourth in the second heat behind Nigel Levine and surprise performer Jarryd Dunn. But the times of Strachan (46.29) and Buck (46.31) proved to be just enough to squeak into the final.
They will be joined there by Levine, Dunn, Martyn Rooney, Robert Tobin, Luke Lennon-Ford and Conrad Williams. But missing the cut were European silver medallist Michael Bingham, Olympic semi-finalist Andrew Steele, former world youth champion Chris Clarke, and 45.77 runner Louis Persent.
Elsewhere in the heats though, there were few surprises. Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child progressed to the 400m hurdles final, Lisa Dobriskey, Laura Weightman and Charlene Thomas led the 1500m qualifiers, while all the main players made it through to the 800m final, including Andrew Osagie, Gareth Warburton, Michael Rimmer and Mukhtar Mohammed.