Day three of the Müller UK Athletics Championships at the Manchester Regional Arena witnessed a host of eye-catching performances despite the cool temperatures and challenging winds, as British athletes impressed with World Championship qualifications and prestigious national victories.
The pressure was on for him to emerge victorious following his swift 1:43.52 in Ostrava last month and 20-year-old Max Burgin (Coach: Ian Burgin, Club: Halifax Harriers and AC) duly delivered with a fine 800m performance, winning in a 1:44.64 Stadium Record, enroute to booking his spot on the British Team for the World Athletics Championships in Eugene next month.
In a loaded field in arguably one of the most highly anticipated races of the weekend, 2020 champion, Daniel Rowden (Matt Yates, Woodford Green and Essex Ladies) claimed the silver medal in a 1:45.58 season’s best, whilst 2015 champion Kyle Langford (Jon Bigg, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) took the bronze with 1:46.34.
An elated Burgin revealed afterwards: “I am delighted with that race today. Going into today, I was the fastest so there was a little bit more of expectation on me to qualify. So, I am delighted to have come out and secured the win.
“The conditions were tough so running from the front isn’t necessarily the best as you feel the wind more. It is quite normal for me to feel sick straight afterwards - it is a side effect of the effort but nothing to worry about.
“I have never run in a senior major championships so it will be a new experience. I have the world lead at the moment, so I am in a good place. With the Commonwealths and the Europeans, I have plenty of opportunities to get used to championship running with the three rounds and so on.”
The high winds temporarily calmed just in time for Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Ryan Freckleton, Newham and Essex Beagles) to take advantage of the perfect +2.00 conditions to blast to a 20.05 Championship Record in the 200m and book his seat on the plane to the World Championships.
The 2017 world fourth placer - who was also victorious in this event in 2017 and 2018 - was a comfortable winner over national indoor bronze medallist, Joe Ferguson (Lewis Samuel, Leeds City AC), who clocked a 20.23 lifetime best which was also inside the World Championship qualifying standard to book a surprise place on the team heading to America.
Under-20 athlete, Jeriel Quainoo (Ryan Freckleton, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) smashed his 20.65 personal best with 20.40 for the bronze medal.
Mitchell-Blake later explained: “It feels amazing to be third time UK champion, I have got my title back which is incredible and to book my seat on the plane to Eugene I cannot complain.
“I have been in a great place mentally, I feel like I have a second wind within this sport now, I’m feeling great at the right time especially with World’s on the horizon.
“I don’t want to put a limit on myself, I’m excited to get back to work and train as hard as I can, my confidence is the highest it has been in a very long time. That race right then was the cleanest race I have had in four years, and it feels great.”
A day after scorching to a superb windy 10.80 (+3.8) 100m victory, Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers) became the first female athlete to do the 100m-200m sprint double since Laura Turner in 2010 with a windy 22.34 (+3.5) 200m win.
Taking the silver medal, 2018 winner Beth Dobbin (Leon Baptiste, Edinburgh AC) secured her British team place as she clocked 22.49 ahead of 100m bronze medallist, Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Stuart McMillan, Sutton and District AC), who registered 22.70 to take her second bronze of the championship.
A delighted Neita said afterwards: “Double British sprint champion sounds good doesn’t it! I came here to do that, and I have achieved it. Obviously, the wind means I don’t have the qualification standard for the Worlds. But I can’t ask anymore than the win.
“I really think I can go to Eugene and perform. I don’t look at others, just me. I am a great fan of the sport and I watch others, but I don’t measure myself against others. I am here to stay now.”
Olympic bronze medallist, Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn Harriers and AC) leapt to her ninth national outdoor pole vault victory with a 4.50m first-time clearance.
European under23 silver medallist, Molly Caudery (Stuart Caudery, Thames Valley Harriers) replicated her 2021 runner-up position here with a second-time clearance at 4.50m, whilst UK indoor silver medallist, Jade Ive (Brian Hooper, Harrow AC) cleared 4.30m for the bronze medal.
Bradshaw revealed, “It always feels great to be British champion again, which is something I never take for granted. It was good to have a battle with Molly. I jumped off a shorter approach today because right now I need to build confidence and because of the strong wind which was such a challenge.
“I have not had the best preparation for the summer coming off the back of illness but it is gradually getting there. It is so good to have more competition from the British girls. I am quietly optimistic for Eugene.”
World indoor 3000m bronze medallist, Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher, Richmond and Zetland Harriers) - claimed his third 5,000m title - after wins in 2018 and 2020, respectively - in 13:42.82. In silver, James West (Ben Thomas, Tonbridge AC) continued his move up from the 1500m event with a 13:44.47 personal best, whilst 2020 runner-up Jack Rowe (Tim Eglen, Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) took the bronze medal in 13:45.30.
Scott commented: “I am delighted with that result today, securing my place for the Worlds. I would have liked a quicker race, but conditions weren’t really conducive and championship racing is different.
“I am going back to the States now to prepare and get the best preparation possible. Training at altitude is definitely what suits me best.”
Olympic finalist Jemma Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan AC) continued her return to health after suffering from glandular fever with a commanding 2:06.03 800m win following two silver medals in the event.
Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) was close behind in 2:06.26, narrowly ahead of 2020 outdoor runner-up, Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn, Enfield and Haringey), who recorded 2:06.59 for the bronze.
Now on the plane to Eugene, Reekie said: “Today means a lot to me. This season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me, but I know I can be ready for the Worlds and I have booked my spot. Some of the British girls are the best in the world so I really couldn’t take anything for granted. I knew it would be slow because of the wind and I knew some could sprint, but I really wanted it out there today.
“Last year, I was so nervous at the Olympic trials whereas today I decided I just needed to do my best and I had prepared myself the best I can.”
2020 winner, Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) sealed her selection for Eugene with a fine 55.08 400m hurdles victory over Lina Nielsen (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), who claimed the silver medal with 55.32 to also book her seat on the plane to the USA next month. Hayley McClean (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) took the bronze medal with a 56.74 clocking.
Knight later explained: “I was third here last year, so I am delighted to get the championship this year. I really love these Champs. It is amazing to get to my first World outdoor Champs, it was so tough out there today. Hopefully in Eugene it will be much better conditions and Lina and I can have some good times out there. We haven’t had much chance of fast times.
“This year has been a psychological battle. My Olympic dream was a bit of shambles last year so this season has been a challenge but I am really happy with how I have handled it. I want to be healthy and fit on the start line and so far, so good.”
Rio Olympic fourth placer, Cindy Sember (Jeff Porter, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) sealed her World Championships selection with a windy 12.56 (+5.4) 100m hurdles victory to add to her 2020 win.
Ever-improving, Jessica Hunter (Scott Grace, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) claimed the silver medal with 12.79, whilst 2017 and 2018 winner, Alicia Barrett (Benke Blomkvist, Trafford AC) took the bronze medal in 12.98.
Sember revealed: “The race wasn’t the best, hitting a few hurdles but the gold was the target and to get the selection. I really just needed to get that win today and execute well. I was pleased with my heat then I just rested up, got some strides and was ready to go this afternoon. I shall try and get a few meets in now before Eugene then I’ll be ready to go.”
British record holder, Lizzie Bird (Pat McCurry, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) retained her 3000m Steeplechase title with ease, as the Olympic ninth placer sped home in 9:46.16 to book her place on the British team for Eugene.
Joining her in the World Championships will be runner-up here, Aimee Pratt (Vicente Modahl, Sale Harriers Manchester), who replicated her 2021 silver medal with a 9:49.32 run ahead of Elise Thorner (Joe Franklin, Yeovil Oliympiads), who crossed the line in 9:57.06.
Bird said: “I’m very excited, today was all about getting the job done, you never know you're going to go until you have finished top two so I’m delighted.
“Luckily, some of the other girls took on the pace, my plan wasn’t to lead early on, so I was happy sitting in behind and focused on getting over the barriers until I decided to make a move with about 600m to go.
“I was feeling pretty confident coming into the Championships this weekend, I think this winter has been my best year of training yet which I think I showed here and last week in Paris.”
2021 bronze medallist, Adele Nicoll (Ryan Spencer-Jones, Birchfield Harriers) caused a surprise in taking the shot put with a 17.59m fourth round throw to push Tokyo Olympian and three-time winner, Sophie McKinna (Paul Wilson, Great Yarmouth and District) into the silver medal position, with a 17.49m effort. 2019 bronze medalist, Divine Oladipo (Ashley Kovacs, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) replicated that position with a best of 17.20m. However, with a top two finish, McKinna booked her spot for Eugene.
Taking a remarkable seventh straight title in these championships, Morgan Lake (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) stole the high jump show once again with a solid 1.85m leap.
Fellow Tokyo Olympian, Emily Borthwick (Wigan and District AC and Harriers) - the national indoor silver medallist and the 2021 outdoor bronze medallist - claimed the silver on countback with 1.85m, whilst Kate Anson (Liverpool Harriers and AC) replicated her UK indoor bronze with the same colour medal here, thanks to her 1.79m clearance.
Capturing an impressive eighth national outdoor crown, Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake, Tonbridge AC) strode to an emphatic 5000m walk victory in 19:51.21.
UK indoor 3000m walk champion, Christopher Snook (Verity Snook, Aldershot, Farnham and District) took the second spot in 21:20.14, with Luc Legon (Noel Carmody, Bexley AC) finishing in the bronze medal position in a 22:33.18 season’s best.
Four-time champion, Nicholas Percy (Zane Duquemin, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) unleashed a huge 65.00m Scottish record in the third round of the discus competition to get the better of his coach, Zane Duquemin (John Hillier, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), who claimed the silver medal with 63.76m. Greg Thompson (Neville Thompson, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) added to his 2021 bronze with the same medal again with a 61.23m best effort.
2020 runner-up, Charlotte Payne (Paul Dickenson, Reading AC) launched a 70.59m Stadium Record effort to take the hammer throw crown from the winner two years ago, Jessica Mayho (John Pearson, Birchfield Harriers) - who registered a 65.73m best effort. She moved up to third in the UK all-time list in the process. Katie Head (Paul Head, Newham and Essex Beagles AC) improved on her 2021 fifth place to take the bronze medal with 65.58m.
Elsewhere in the field, Ben Williams (Aston Moore, City of Stoke AC) collected his fourth triple jump victory in this event with a best leap of 16.76m in the fourth round, whilst Jude Bright-Davies (David Johnson, Thames Valley Harriers) took the silver medal in 16.10m. Improving on ninth place last year, Seun Okome (Keith Hunter, Sale Harriers Manchester) claimed the bronze medal with a windy 16.09m (+2.2).
Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore) brought down the curtain on a twenty-year career with a 15.73m jump for fifth position. A European indoor and outdoor medallist during his career, the Oxford City athlete bowed out in style after a remarkable time in the sport.
Bethan Davies (Andi Drake, Cardiff AC) took title number seven in the 5000m walk, crossing the line in a swift 22:30.59, ahead of under-17 athlete, Gracie Griffiths (Peter Freeman, Pembrokeshire Harriers) who clocked a 25:18.40 lifetime best for the silver medal. Abby Hughes (Steve Shaw, Taunton AC) was timed at 25:23.62 as the under-20 athlete collected bronze.
Kickstarting day three, James Whiteaker (Nigel Whiteaker, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) claimed his third national title with a 74.06m first-round throw in the javelin to add to his 2018 and 2020 victories. 18-year-old Benjamin East (Luke Angell, Team Kennet) reached 73.49m to take the silver medal and exceed the World junior Championships qualifying standard by more than four meters, whilst 2021 champion Daniel Bainbridge (Michael McNeill, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) collected bronze courtesy of his 71.35m best effort.
Reynold Banigo (Matt Barton, Sale Harriers Manchester) added to his 2020 victory in winning the long jump with a 8.00m (+1.4) leap ahead of Jack Roach (Lukasz Zawila, Harrow AC) who replicated the silver medal he won back in 2020 with a windy 7.88m (+2.6) jump. Samuel Khogali (Mike Bennett, Woodford Green and Essex Ladies) took the bronze medal with a 7.83m (+1.8) lifetime best.
In the heptathlon, Jodie Smith (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) claimed the gold medal with 5929 points, following a strong second day which included a 6.11m long jump, a 42.39m javelin throw and a 2:21.15 800m.
Ella Rush (David Feeney, Amber Valley and Eerewash AC) took the silver medal with 5469 points, whilst Eloise Hind (Marcia Marriott, Oxford City AC) went home with the bronze courtesy of her 5318 points.
Paralympic and World 100m and 800m champion, Hannah Cockroft (Jennifer Banks, Leeds City AC) took the spoils in the women’s wheelchair 400m in 58.79 for the T34 athlete, whilst her partner - T54 athlete, Nathan Maguire (Steven Hoskins, Kirkby AC) - won the men’s wheelchair race by over five seconds in 51.57.
In the men’s Paralympic 1500m, Scotland’s T20 athlete, Steven Bryce (Victoria Park Harriers) unleashed an impressive sprint finish to take the win in 4:11.57.
Midway through the day, a special presentation was held to relocate the medals for the 4x400m World Indoor Championships back in 2010, with Lee McConnell, Vicky Barr, Kim Wall and Perri Shakes-Drayton receiving the bronze medals as part of their upgrade from their original fourth-place finish.
McConnell revealed afterwards:
“It is a bittersweet moment to be honest but it is great to finally get recognition. At the time even if you have suspicions, you put them to one side and just do your best and assume that is that.
“I don’t actually remember much from the day. I’ll have to go back home and watch it on YouTube!”