Middle-distance man Jake Wightman back from injury to beat strong domestic 800m field at BMC Grand Prix while Sarah McDonald and Andy Butchart also enjoy good victories
Jake Wightman took the honours in the much-anticipated men’s 800m race on Saturday night at Watford, but on Britain’s hottest day of the year there were masses of PBs in 28 races, making it one of the best BMC meetings in history.
Wightman had not raced on the track since last August due to a stress fracture of the sacrum but he made a sensational comeback. Holding back from the fast pace (51.28 at the bell) he took control in the last 200m to win in 1:45.55.
Charles Da’Vall Grice finished strongly to finish second in 1:45.72 from Elliot Giles third in 1:45.80 with Spencer Thomas fourth in an one-second PB with 1:46.19 as the Brighton Phoenix athlete celebrated his European under-23 selection.
In the B race there were big breakthroughs for juniors Oliver Dustin and Joshua Lay. Dustin won in a PB 1:46.84 while Lay ran 1:47.93 in what has easily been the greatest year in British junior 800m history.
Britain currently has the fastest five juniors in Europe, led by Max Burgin, the Halifax athlete who ran 1:45.36 in Bedford the previous weekend.
Behind Dustin and Lay, Alex Botterill was third in 1:47.93 and another junior, Ben Lee, won the C race in 1:49.36. Even in the D race, two juniors excelled with Callum Dodds clocking 1:49.17 and Daniel Howells 1:49.34.
Sarah McDonald (below, No.81) showed superb 800m speed to win the women’s A race in a PB 2:00.15 with a strong last 200m.
Alex Bell ran 2:01.36 and European indoor champion Shelayna Oskan-Clarke 2:01.47 to complete the top three.
The women’s 800m B race, meanwhile, was won by Finland’s Sara Kuivisto in 2:02.64.
The men’s 1500m saw a strong finish from Olympic 5000m sixth-placer Andrew Butchart, who won in 3:38.84 to overhaul James McMurray, who ran 3:39.02.
Under-23 runners Archie Davis (3:40.30) and George Mills (3:40.30) both had breakthrough runs.
Butchart then paced the 5000m which was won by Hillingdon’s Mohamed Mohamed in 14:07.25.
The women’s 1500m was won by Denmark’s European under-23 champion Anna Emilie Moller in 4:09.15 as Jess Judd finished strongly to take second in 4:10.74.
Judd then paced the women’s 5000m which was won by Emily Hosker-Thornhill in a PB 15:46.22 as Amelia Quirk finished second in 16:02.54 (pictured below).
European under-18 champion Thomas Keen won an exciting under-20 men’s 3000m that was labelled as a trial for the European Under-20 Championships in Sweden.
Eighteen athletes were in contention at 2000m but Keen kicked in a hard penultimate lap and although he weakened down the backstraight when Max Heyden kicked past he rallied in the straight to win in 8:18.41 from Heyden’s 8:18.82 as nine athletes broke 8:30.
The event saw probably the most exciting men’s 3000m steeplechase with the best depth in BMC history as nine athletes broke nine minutes and five went sub-8:50.
Chris Perry took almost 10 seconds off his PB to win with a fast last lap in 8:44.55 with Jayme Rossiter second in 8:46.81.
The women’s 3000m, mostly made up of juniors, was won by Katie Holt in 9:15.34. Behind her there was a huge breakthrough for under-20 Saskia Millard, who ran 9:20.82, a time which will surely confirm her European under-20 selection along with Eloise Walker, who ran 9:21.96 – well inside the 9:30 qualifying time for Sweden.
Ireland’s Michelle Finn was an easy winner of the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:51.22.
The final race of the day also saw an Irish win as under-20 Darragh McElhinney showed a good last lap kick to win the 3000m men’s A race in an Irish junior record of 8:01.48 ahead of Jonathan Davies.
» More coverage, photos and full results in the July 4 issue of AW magazine