The 100m runners appropriately brought down the curtain on three days of world trials action in Birmingham
Sprinters shone on the closing day of the Sainsbury’s British Championships at Alexander Stadium on Sunday as Dina Asher-Smith and CJ Ujah won the 100m.
Asher-Smith set a championship best of 11.08 as she stormed to victory by 0.35 seconds. However, the Blackheath & Bromley AC athlete had an easier ride than anticipated after reigning champion Asha Philip pulled up in her semi-final.
When Asher-Smith ran 11.28 into a headwind of 3.0m/sec in the semi-final, it had been thought she could challenge her recent UK record of 11.02 and maybe break the 11-second barrier in the final. However, her winning time, aided by a wind of 0.5m/sec, has been bettered by only one other Briton in history, the former UK record-holder Montell Douglas.
Bianca Williams followed up silver in the 200m on Saturday with another, running 11.43. Desiree Henry was third with 11.45.
Saying she had targeted another UK record, Asher-Smith said: “I would have liked Asha (Philip) to have lined up next to me and the other brilliant British sprint girls that couldn’t be here through injury.”
She added: “I am absolutely over the moon about being British champion. It is one of those things you always want to be but until you get out there and do it you can’t say you are.”
The men’s 100m had been billed as a head to head between Ujah and James Dasaolu. However, it was a no-contest between the two sub-10-second men in the field as Ujah stopped the clock on 10.10.
Dasaolu was second with 10.24 – three hundredths ahead of third-placed Ojie Edoburun.
Ujah said: “The preparation from all the British Athletics staff, my coach and family have helped me a lot. We focused more on preserving energy, getting to that final and executing the race well. Everyone has been telling me to keep my head. I’ve had a tough time – obviously false starting in Prague (European Indoors in March) but I’ve learned from that and hopefully this will be a stepping stone toward the World Championships.
“I really wanted both the indoor and outdoor British titles this year and to come out and do both of them this year at the age of 21 is good and I can build on this now.”
Ujah, Dasaolu and Asher-Smith secured automatic selection for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month by being placed in the top two while also having attained the qualifying standard twice this year.
Arguably the biggest surprise in terms of top performances over the weekend was the 45.01 by Rabah Yousif.
The Sudan-born athlete ran his way on to the team for Beijing by beating into second Jarryd Dunn, who had been installed as favourite following the late withdrawal by Matthew Hudson-Smith. Dunn clocked 45.24 and was followed by Nigel Levine and European champion Martyn Rooney, who shared bronze.
Yousif said: “When I saw the line-up I felt like I had been left behind. I can’t take anything away from the boys, they’re absolutely the most talented squad for 400m, but at the same time, when I’m in shape I can match anybody and give a 110% performance.”
Having made only two appearances in these championships since 2007, Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford was eagerly welcomed by the spectators.
The Olympic champion was made to work for his victory, though, by Dan Bramble, the recent new find of the event in Britain. Both secured selection for Beijing.
The early lead was taken by Bramble with 8.03m in round two and he went further still with 8.04m in found four. But Rutherford added to wins in two Diamond League meetings and the Great CityGames Manchester with his fifth-round leap of 8.11m.
The other London 2012 Olympic champion on show here, Jessica Ennis-Hill, followed up her bronze in the 100m hurdles on Saturday with a less satisfying performance in the javelin. She was 12th with 39.84m – four metres down on her season’s best – behind winner Izzy Jeffs (53.50m).
Long after the last track event and most of the spectators had left the Alexander Stadium, a small clutch of onlookers were treated to a masterclass in hammer throwing by Sophie Hitchon.
The event was paused for safety reasons because of a lightning storm but Hitchon was untroubled as she had three throws over 70m. The last competitive action of the weekend established the championship record at 71.10m – 1.87m short of her UK record.
It had been thought the UK record could be under threat in the women’s long jump, but ultimately winner Shara Proctor fell just short with a nevertheless impressive 6.86m. Lorraine Ugen took silver with 6.69m, while heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson was third with 6.56m.
Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz showed a return to form in winning his event with a Beijing qualifying standard of 2.28m. He said: “I so enjoyed jumping again closer to heights which I should be jumping. Some of the lads got put off by the weather but I was fortunate the sun came back out and I made the most of it. I’m getting close now and it is just really good fun to jump.”
Laura Muir put in another scintillating performance to win the 1500m by a big margin over Laura Weightman. Following on from Oslo where she front-ran most of the way, she accelerated away from the field with 800m to go after a slow opening lap and three-quarters. Her last 700m was 1:48.05 and last lap was 63.1 as Weightman tried in vain to keep up and finished second with 4:14.83 to Muir’s 4:10.37. Both thus booked their places on the team for Beijing.
“I knew Laura (Weightman) would be really strong over the last lap so I wanted to use my endurance,” she said. “I knew that I would be only happy with winning and it’s my first British outdoor title. It’s only my third time competing here – I was last the first time and second last year so the win was really important today. I was confident but I know Laura is really strong so I couldn’t let my guard down. I want to be pushing the best of Britain and the best in the world.”
Jess Judd, European and Commonwealth finalist at 800m last year, took bronze with 4:16.08.
Britain’s top walker Tom Bosworth took 16 seconds off the UK 5000m race walk best he set in this event last year. Though not a trials event for Beijing, the 25-year-old has already secured selection in the 20km.
Winning £2500 for his record-breaking efforts, he said: “I’m over the moon, but also gutted as I wanted to dip under 19-minutes but I’m in amazing shape and I’m absolutely buzzing for the World Championships.”
He added: “I can’t wait to compete in my first World Championships. I left it all out on the track. My body is in bits. I wanted to entertain the crowd by pushing myself the whole way. Training’s been fantastic recently so today was a bonus from all of that.”
Johanna Atkinson, the 2010 Commonwealth 20km walk champion, took her eighth national 5000m race walk title, clocking 22:03.55. Atkinson, who under her married name of Jackson long dominated British women’s race walking until injury in the past couple of years, had company for much of the race in the form of Bethan Davies (23:06.46).
Brett Morse found 58.83m enough to win his third discus title. His second-round effort put him two metres ahead of defending champion Zane Duquemin (56.02m). Carl Myerscough, a two-time champion appearing in these championships for the first time since 2012 when he won his 10th consecutive shot title, was third with 55.34m as several athletes were well below par.
Niall Flannery comfortably defended his 400m hurdles title with 50.16, although he will be looking for two qualifying performances of 49.50 or quicker to assure his selection for Beijing. Jack Houghton was just a few tenths outside his best with 50.82.
Dai Greene had a solid opening competition of the season, finishing third with 50.82, having been touch and go to line up in the heats on Friday as he has been trying to come back from injury.
Tom Burton, who was the only athlete lining up with the Beijing standard, was just sixth. UK No.1 Jack Green, who has not competed since a fall in Geneva on June 7, was a non-starter in the heats Saturday.
A trademark strong finish by twice world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu was not enough to overhaul Anyika Onuora, who secured her Beijing selection with 51.87. Ohuruogu clocked 52.04 while Shana Cox was third with 52.64.
In the 800m there was a spread in age of 24 years between the leader at the bell, 43-year-old Anthony Whiteman and the winner, Kyle Langford.
Whiteman, who won a silver medal in the 1500m at these championships in the year Langford was born, went through halfway in 57.63. Langford, the 19-year-old 2013 Commonwealth youth bronze medallist, accelerated with 300m to go, moving through the field and up into the lead to clock 1:49.70.
Seven-time winner Michael Rimmer clocked 1:50.04 ahead of Gareth Warburton, third, as Whiteman ended up sixth.
With five athletes over 5.50m this year, the men’s pole vault promised much, but Steve Lewis found 5.35m enough to win – a best height he shared with runner-up Max Eaves. However, both secured selection for Beijing, having twice each gained the qualifying height of 5.65m this year.
European champion Eilidh Child was another to gain automatic selection, clocking 55.57 to win the 400m hurdles from Meghan Beesley (56.81) and Hayley McLean (58.80).
After a slow opening 800m, Charlie Grice took the 1500m in 3:50.66 with Chris O’Hare second in 3:51.03 and Dale Clutterbuck third.
Lawrence Clarke’s search for the qualifying standard for Beijing goes on after he dipped to an easy victory in the 110m hurdles in 13.55. Joseph Hylton and Jake Porter were second and third respectively, crossing the line in 13.91 – a PB for the latter.
Scott Lincoln added 33cm to his PB in winning the shot with 18.54m. The previous UK No.1 Zane Duquemin won another silver following the discus earlier in the day.
» The July 9 issue of Athletics Weekly will have 16 pages of coverage from the Sainsbury’s British Championships