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LONDON NORTH LIONS CROWNED 2011 MCCAIN CITY CHAMPIONS

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McCain City Champions London North Lions
26 February 2011

Robbie Grabarz leapt to an equal lifetime best in Cardiff as London North Lions dethroned Sheffield Flames as the McCain City Champions.

In the second of two McCain City Challenge matches, Grabarz (coach: Fuzz Ahmed) cleared 2.25m on his third and final attempt to set himself up nicely for the European Indoor Championships, which will take place in Paris next week (4-6 March).

He said: “I’m just still perfecting my curve and today was one step closer to having it how I wanted. It’s nice to jump 2.25m going into the Europeans because fingers crossed if I jump that on my first attempt in Paris I should make the final. That’s my target for now.”

Joe Thomas (coach: Arwyn Davies), running for Cardiff Dragons, stepped down to the 400m as a bit of speed work before the European Indoors where he will contest the 800m.

The 2011 Aviva Indoor UK champion ran a new lifetime best, indoors or out, of 47.94, and claimed maximum points for the home city team.

Thomas said: “I thought I’d started well but it was my first time in blocks and going down the back straight I had a bit of work to do. I went for the gap down the home straight on the first lap and just went for it. It’s difficult coming down from 800m, I only did one session with starting blocks during the week so I wasn’t very confident it - I normally do a standing start.”

“I’m excited for the European Indoors, I’m probably in the best form of my life so I want to just get to the final. Indoors anything can happen and the fastest guy doesn’t always win.”

Fellow Paris-bound athlete, Bernice Wilson (coach: George Skafidas), was a clear winner of the 60m for Sheffield Flames in 7.4 seconds.

She said: “I’m pleased with the race. It was good preparation for the Europeans next week. I’ll have a word with my coach to see how it was technically but it felt good. I always like competing in the McCain City Challenge – I find the team aspect of it really good.

“I’ve been preparing well with my coach for next week and I’ve had a good indoor season. It’s been particularly positive because my times have been consistent so I’m looking forward to the Europeans. I’m going there to win but it’s my first major championship so I’m just taking each round as it comes.”

Conrad Williams (coach: Linford Christie) – who will look to pick up another major championship medal in the 4x400m relay in Paris – had another busy day. After warming up his legs in the 60m, he had his first outing over 400m this season in the medley relay. After being stuck in lane two for the entire first lap, he opened up a gap and eased London Sharks into a lead which they held onto until the end, clocking 47.5.

He said: “Today was good. I got left in the blocks a bit in the 60m. It isn’t my event but it will help me get sharp. Training’s been going well and I know I’m in shape in the 400m ahead of next week.”

A delighted Gemma Werrett (coach: Steve Fudge) raced to a new Scottish record of 8.34 in the 60m hurdles for Birmingham Falcons to cap a fine season.

The Birchfield Harrier said: “I’m really really pleased. Last weekend I ran my slowest time of the season so I was really chuffed to come here and do what I did. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Ashley [Helsby, who also ran a personal best] who was right there with me. I’m over the moon at getting the record. It’s just the pinnacle of a great season.”

Werrett’s wasn’t the only record of the day as Cardiff Dragons’ Sally Peake (coach: Scott Simpson) leapt to a new Welsh Indoor record of 4.21m in the pole vault, in an event won by Sheffield Flames’ Emma Lyons (coach: Lee McLaren), who also jumped 4.21m.

Peake said: “It feels great to get the record. I’ve wanted to get it since the start of the season so to get it today in my last competition is great.

“I’m quite injury plagued and I’ve gone from the Commonwealth Games run up through to now without getting injured and no interruptions to my training which I think is the key.

“I’d really like to get 4.30m outdoors because that would get me to the World University Games, and I’d like to be consistent at that level and start mixing it with Holly [Bleasdale] and Kate [Dennison].”

There was a double match winner in the men’s shot put as Scott Rider (coach: John Hillier) of London South Sharks threw a season’s best 18.02m to top a month which has seen him win the McCain City Challenge Match 1 as well as the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships.

He said: “I’m not in my best shape but I’m pleased to have gone over 18 metres for the first time this season. I feel like I’m slowly coming into some shape. The main goal is the outdoor season. I’m hoping this year I can step up and throw over 19 metres.”

National finalist Matt Hudson (coach: James Hillier) had a busy day for Newcastle Angels, competing in both the 60m and the 60m hurdles, winning the latter in 7.94.

He said: “I’m pretty pleased with the 60m hurdles. After racing a 60m flat too I was a little tired. It was under eight seconds though so it was consistent.”

Please click HERE for provisional results.