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aviva indoor uk trials and championships (2)

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Tom Parsons

13 February 2011

European Indoor qualifying performances were few and far between on day two of the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships at the EIS in Sheffield (12/13 February), but Tom Parsons (coach: Fuzz Ahmed) not only achieved the required standard for the high jump, but in doing so recorded a brilliant new lifetime best and Stadium Record with a mark of 2.31m to take gold.

It was a clean sweep of medals for coach Ahmed as Robbie Grabarz finished second with an indoor best of 2.25m with Matthew Roberts in third (2.18m), but the plaudits deservedly went to Parsons who cleared the winning height with room to spare on his second attempt.

“That’s my first personal best in about two and a half years so I’m a bit emotional really,” said Parsons who won his first UK indoor title and was presented with the £1000 award for “Aviva Outstanding Performance” of the day. “I knew my clearance was absolutely huge so I went into 2.35m and almost got it at the first attempt. It’s nice to know there’s a bit more in the tank before the Europeans. It feels like I’m bridging the gap a bit between me and the Russian athletes.

“Maybe I need to start a bit higher in the next competition and take a few less jumps on route. It took me three jumps at 2.28m when it really should have only taken me one. I’ve got the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham next weekend which is probably my favourite track. Hopefully I can build on this performance; I was so close to 2.35m, I’ve got so much belief now. I want to jump 2.35m twice this year, that’s one of my goals because I know time’s running out for London.”

The men’s 800m also delivered as Joe Thomas (coach: Arwyn Davies) and Andrew Osagie (coach: Craig Winrow) clocked 1:47.87 and 1:47:96 to finish first and second respectively, inside the 1:48.00 qualifying time.

Commonwealth Games finalist Thomas - who clocked a Stadium Record and indoor personal best - went through half way in 53.59 and built up a big lead before defending champion Osagie kicked back into contention to eventually take silver.

“It was a bit of a ‘rugby’ race with a lot of pushing and change of pace,” said the 2009 bronze medallist. “I wanted to go out quite hard but some of the other guys had a really good start and I was out wide. I realised I was in a position I didn’t want to be in so I slowly started working back at them and I took one out on each straight to go to the front, there was a bit of argey bargey but you expect that in the 800m.

“I didn’t realise I got the time for the European Indoors, so that’s ticked both boxes now.”

Guy Learmonth finished third in a new Scottish junior record - the seventh time he has reduced that mark - of 1:49.34.

In arguably one of the most eventful races of the day however, Andy Baddeley (coach: Andy Hobdell) - one of 19 athletes on the start line - missed the European Indoor Championships qualifying mark by less than a second when taking the UK 3000m title in 7:54.60.

Ross Murray (coach: Craig Winrow), second in last weekend’s BUCS Cross Country Championships, took the race out in his first indoor outing of the year, but Mike Skinner (coach: Andy Hobdell), in a bid to hit the 7:54.00 mark for the European Indoors, took it on with ten laps to go tracked by Mark Draper (also Hobdell).

Off the pace when passing half way in 3:58, Skinner picked it up and Baddeley moved through the field into second. Skinner stepped off the track with five laps to go, followed by Draper with four laps to go and Baddeley raced home to take the win in a season’s best with Murray, in a brilliant breakthrough performance to go sub-8 minutes for the first time, clocking 7:59.19 for second.

It was messy at the start, there were a lot more people thinking they could run 64s than perhaps I had assumed,” admitted who has achieved the equivalent qualifying mark with a 7:42.75 outdoors in September. “There were a lot of people at the front and it took a while for Mike Skinner to go to the front…I thought he [Skinner] was going to carry on, but he went probably a bit further at that pace than we could have hoped and he did a great job.

“Being in the lead is a place I am more comfortable than maybe people think, but it does make it harder to clip around in those nice 62s, so I was probably running 63s and 64s on my own and it was tough for those last four or five laps, but I’ve had a tough three weeks and I’ve got three more weeks to the European Indoors so it’s ok.”

Kelly Sotherton (coach: Aston Moore) impressed when taking her first UK 400m title - and seventh UK indoor title in total - in a UK leading time of 53.56.

Progressing as second quickest from yesterday’s semi finals behind Jenny Meadows (coach: Trevor Painter), Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Sotherton, in her first competitive outing over 400m since 2008, took the lead at the break and worked hard to hold on for the win.

“I’m a bit emotional because I had two and a half years out, and after the round yesterday I wasn’t sure what would happen,” she admitted. “I'm still learning my trade. I knew Jenny was very strong in the last 200m, so I had to go out and be strong in the first 300m.

“I keep knocking seconds off my time, so if I keep going on like that, who knows what can happen,” she continued. “I’m very satisfied with how I ran, who I beat and my first national title. Not a bad one for me.”

She was followed home by fast finishing Kelly Massey (coach: Stephen Ball) in second (53.58) and Laura Wake (coach: Nick Dakin) in third (53.97). Meadows finished in seventh (54.47).

There was also a first UK senior national indoor title for World Junior Championships bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale (coach: Julien Raffalli) in the women’s pole vault (4.36m).

Already the revelation of the winter in British athletics having increased her lifetime best from 4.35m outdoors in 2010 to 4.50m indoors this year, it was yet another deserved accolade for the 19-year-old.

“I’ve never won this title before or come close to it so it feels really great to win it this time,” said the Aviva UK Championships outdoor silver medallist who hopes to continue her winning form in Poland on Wednesday. “I’ve been getting PBs quite a lot so it’s disappointing not to get a PB, but 4.36 is still a good height so I’m happy with that.”

Nick McCormick (coach: Lindsay Dunn), following two previous UK indoor victories over 3000m, won his third title when taking gold in the 1500m (3:45.30).

No athlete had the qualifying standard for Paris coming into the event and so it promised much, but in the end McCormick finished three seconds outside the required mark, albeit in a lifetime best, with Lewis Moses (coach: John Nuttall), also with a PB, in second (3:45.57) and defending champion Colin McCourt in third (3:45.63).

It was a similar story in the women’s 1500m, with Stacey Smith (coach: Mick Woods), English  national outdoor champion over 800m, winning in an indoor PB of 4:22.96 – 11 seconds off the European Indoors standard.

Joice Maduaka (coach: Loren Seagrave) won the women’s 200m - not a European Indoor Championships event - in a season’s best time of 23.63, and in doing so took her UK indoor gold medal haul to an impressive nine, while in the men’s 200m Danny Talbot (coach: Daniel Cossins), World Junior Championships semi finalist, recorded a lifetime best of 20.89 in securing a last gasp victory ahead of Aviva UK 60mH champion Andy Turner (coach: Lloyd Cowan) in 20.94.

Gemma Bennett (coach: Lloyd Cowan) won the 60mH in 8.22, some way off the 8.10 mark for the European Indoors, and while the concluding track events of the day – the men’s 400m and women’s 800m – failed to deliver qualifying performances for Paris, they were exciting nonetheless: Nigel Levine (coach: Simon Duberley) raced to a UK leading time and lifetime indoor best of 46.76 to take gold in the former, while Marilyn Okoro (coach: Ayo Falola), silver medallist over 400m in 2009, clocked 2:04.36 after a blistering opening 200m (27.51) in the latter.

On the in field, Ben Williams (coach: John Crotty) improved his bronze medal position from 12 months ago to win his first UK senior indoor title in the triple jump with a best mark of 15.88m – matching his performance in the Aviva International Match in Glasgow - in the opening round.

Scott Rider (coach: John Hiller), bronze medallist in 2008, built on his successful start to 2011 with his second in seven days in the men’s shot putt (17.96m), while Ireland’s national record holder Kelly Proper, the defending champion, won her third successive women’s long jump title with a best effort of 6.35m in round two but the Aviva UK Championships crown went to Dominique Blaize (coach: Julie Hollman) - second overall - with 6.25m.

World and European heptathlon Champion Jessica Ennis (coach: Toni Minichiello), who currently tops the UK rankings, withdrew from day two of the event as a precaution after having an “annoying niggle” on the side of her left foot for the past week. “A scan revealed there is no damage and it is a bit of inflammation,” explained Ennis, who has decided to prioritise being fully fit for the Aviva Grand Prix on 19 February and the European Indoor Championships in Paris. “My coach and I decided that rest today would be best as it is still stiff and focus on the bigger picture.”

The first two eligible athletes in the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships will be automatically selected for the European Indoor Championships in Paris provided they hold a UKA Qualification Standard within the UKA Qualification Period. The full selection policy – along with results from both days of the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships – are available on the UKA website: www.uka.org.uk