UK record-holder delighted to be heading to Rio as she wins on the final day of the British Championships
Andrew Pozzi, Dina Asher-Smith, Laura Muir and Eilidh Doyle were among the winners who secured places on Britain’s team for the Olympics at the British Championships at Alexander Stadium on Sunday.
Competition was fierce in north Birmingham as athletes could guarantee their selection by placing first or second as long as they had gained the British Athletics qualification standard twice during this year or last summer.
Asher-Smith, who was fifth in the 200m at the World Championships last year, is on course to challenge for medals in Rio after her win in the half-lap event. However, she was pushed harder than expected by Desiree Henry before she crossed the line in 23.11.
The winner, who broke Kathy Cook’s longstanding British record with 22.07 last year, said: “It’s a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. I can’t believe it.”
Henry, who had been disappointed not to guarantee her place in the 100m on Saturday when she finished third, made no mistake here as she clocked 23.13. Jodie Williams took bronze with 23.22.
Meanwhile, the athlete who, like Asher-Smith, finished fifth in the men’s equivalent at last year’s Worlds appears unlikely to be competing individually in Rio after a disappointing fourth for Zharnel Hughes continued a below-par season. However, ahead of him, Adam Gemili continued to show improved form, gaining his second Rio qualifier with 20.44 ahead of Danny Talbot, who had already achieved it twice. Hughes was also behind Reece Prescod as his 20.84 was a long way off his PB of 20.02. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake pulled out shortly before the event through injury but, subject to fitness, seems almost certain to be added to the roster.
Competing on his home track, Hudson-Smith was a popular winner as he came home to 44.88, his second quickest ever time. The European silver medallist was well clear of the rest, led by Rabah Yousif, whose 45.52 proved enough to see him on the team.
European champion Martyn Rooney, who took third with 46.01, one hundredth ahead of Jarryd Dunn, who also has a qualifying mark, will have to wait to hear from selectors after not having the best of seasons so far this year.
Hudson-Smith said: “It feels actually amazing, I can’t put it into words. To know I am now going to Rio is just indescribable.”
Pozzi, who has been one of the unluckiest British elite athletes when it comes to injury in recent years, completed his return to the international stage as he won the 110m hurdles in 13.31, taking one hundredth off his best despite going into a headwind of 1.3m/sec.
The Stratford upon Avon athlete was challenged early on by Lawrence Clarke, who held on for second in 13.44 and, as he also has two qualifiers, will join Pozzi in Rio. David King was third in 13.57 as three-time world finalist William Sharman did not take his lane in the final.
The winner said: “It’s the first race of the season where I’ve really had it all together. That’s what you need to do in the final, I knew I had to get out and focus on myself. The body feels great and it is the best it’s felt this season.”
Muir pulled easily clear on the final lap of the 1500m, clocking 4:10.14 as she bids to build on her Scottish record and World Championships fifth last year. Laura Weightman had the two qualifiers but had to battle hard in the home straight to hold off Charlene Thomas for second (4:11.76 to 4:11.84).
Eilidh Doyle was a class apart in winning the 400m hurdles as she safely negotiated the 10 hurdles to clinch her place on the team. Her time of 54.93 was her fourth under 55 seconds this year. Jessica Turner was second with 57.34 and Bethany Close set a PB for third of 57.70. Shona Richards, who had one qualifying mark to her name, was seventh with 59.07.
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke edged out Lynsey Sharp in the 800m as both athletes made sure of going to Rio. The winning time was 2:01.99 as the athletes were separated by 0.15 seconds. Alison Leonard was third in 2:02.45.
Robbie Grabarz, who won bronze in London 2012, is back at the Olympics after his win in the high jump. He and runner-up Chris Baker, who also has the two qualifiers cleared bests of 2.26m.
Jazmin Sawyers added four centimetres to her PB and gained her second Olympic qualifier in gaining victory with 6.75m over world silver medallist Shara Proctor, who recorded 6.65m.
Emily Diamond confirmed she is her best shape ever as she won the 400m in 51.94. Both she and silver medallist Seren Bundy-Davies, who ran 52.38, will be going to the Games. Anyika Onuora was third with 52.57 after Perri Shakes-Drayton, who went to the last Olympics as a hurdler but is now focused on the flat, dropped out of the race. Twice world and 2008 Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu was missing from the event because of a virus.
The gold and silver medallists in the men’s event are also going to the Games. Charlie Grice took victory in 3:43.11, while Chris O’Hare (3:43.68) had to fight to hold off Jake Wightman (3:43.90) for second.
Steph Twell won a closely contested 5000m as she and runner-up Eilish McColgan clinched the guaranteed places in Rio. The Aldershot, Farnham & District athlete broke away just before the bell to clock 15:53.35. Laura Whittle, who also had two qualifiers, was third with 15:56.63, completing an all-Scottish top three.
Twell, who suffered a career-threatening ankle injury in 2011, will be back at the Olympics after competing in the 1500m in Beijing in 2008. McColgan is likewise delighted to be back on the Olympic stage after several injury problems in recent years, having gone to London 2012 as steeplechase and now concentrating on the flat.
Seb Rodger surprised UK No.1 Jack Green in the men’s 400m hurdles as he crossed the line first in 49.45. Green, who was four hundredths behind, will definitely be on the British team, though, as he already has run the qualifying mark of 49.40 twice, whereas Rodger still needs it. Rhys Williams and Tom Burton, who have one qualifier each, were third and fourth. Niall Flannery, who has two qualifiers, was back in seventh.
Jade Lally confirmed her place in Rio in the discus. As she had already achieved the Olympic qualifying distance more than the required twice she knew she only had to finish in the first two to gain the right to compete in her first global championships. She duly won with 59.15m in the final round as Eden Francis picked up silver with 56.24m and Kirsty Law the bronze with 52.19m.
However, there was disappointment in the hammer circle, particularly for Nick Miller, who had the two qualifiers but could only finish third with 72.21m. Winner Chris Bennett and Mark Dry produced good throws of 75.67m and 74.92m respectively but neither have the tough Olympic standard of 77.00m.
Rosie Clarke caused a surprise in the steeplechase to beat Lennie Waite, who had the two qualifiers and nevertheless will be confirmed on the team as she placed second. Clarke, who took up the steeplechase this year and had only run the event three times, set a PB of 9:52.20. Waite was second with 9:54.06, while third-placed Louise Webb was also under 10 minutes.
However, Goldie Sayers’ quest to compete in her fourth Olympic Games hangs in the balance as the Beijing fourth-placer, who has achieved the qualifying standard of 62.00m once – last year, finished second behind Jo Blair. The winner climbed to seventh on the UK all-time list with her PB by more than two metres – 57.44m. For Sayers, who threw 54.98m, it was her first defeat in the British Championships since 2002, having won 11 times since.
Luke Cutts went clear at a best of 5.40m to gain his place on the plane to Brazil with victory. Steve Lewis was second on 5.25m, but the man who was fifth in 2012 and also went to Beijing in 2008 has not achieved the 5.70m qualification.
In the absence of Greg Rutherford, it was his predecessor as British long jump record-holder, Chris Tomlinson, who stole the show with his retirement announcement. However, the man who had finished fifth and sixth respectively in Olympic finals, was just fifth with a best of 7.43m as a low-key affair was won by Daniel Gardiner with 7.67m. Rutherford, who had been given permission to miss the championships, is on a training camp in the United States as he prepares to defend his Olympic title.
Elliot Giles, who had won the England under-23 title the previous weekend, upstaged seven-time champion Michael Rimmer, passing him in the home straight to clock 1:48.00. Michael Rimmer drifted out to third behind Jamie Webb. British M40 record-holder Anthony Whiteman brought up the rear, the 44-year-old having lined up one lane inside 17-year-old Ben Greenwood.
Bethan Davies won the opening event on the track on day two, clocking a PB of 22:03.82 in the 5000m walk. In the men’s event, Australian Dane Bird-Smith took victory with 19:08.76, but the British title went to Tom Bosworth (19:13.56), who has already been picked to compete in the 20km walk in Rio.
Rachel Wallader defended her shot put title, throwing 16.67m as Sophie McKinna took silver with 16.16m.