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Lewis-Francis anchors British quartet to victory

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The Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team left it until the last event on the first day of their international with the USA, Russia and China to record a victory. But it was worth the wait - and sent the crowd home happy from the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on Saturday 19 August at the halfway point of this exciting match.

Six days after winning gold at the European Championships, the men’s 4 x 100m relay team combined to triumph again. Led by Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers), they had too much speed and slick baton changing not to be beaten. Dwayne Grant (Blackheath & Bromley) then took over, handing onto Marlon Devonish (Coventry Godiva) before Mark Lewis-Francis (Birchfield Harriers) led the team home in 38.91 ahead of the USA, who were second in 39.00, with Russia third in 39.18.

It was an important victory in this Norwich Union International going into the second day where Russia lead with 165 points, followed by the USA with 143, Britain with 129 and China with 73.

Even though the season is heading towards a close, it was a good afternoon for Natasha Danvers-Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet). The British No 1, who finished seventh in the European Championships in Gothenburg, ran a season’s best time of 54.82, when she was narrowly beaten by Russia’s Yevgeniya Isakova, who won in 54.76, with Dominiqe Darden, of the USA, third in 55.86. Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet) was fourth in 55.97.

”I am very tired at the moment. It has been a long season starting with the Commonwealths. It is more about mental strength at this stage of the season. I am proud of the way I raced today.” Said Danvers-Smith.

A week ago in Gothenburg, Andy Turner (Sale Harriers Manchester) won bronze in the 110m hurdles. He finished a place higher in Birmingham, clocking 13.62 as China’s Dongpeng Shi won in 13.48. Fellow Briton David Hughes (Trafford) was sixth in 13.86. ”I felt a bit flat in this race,” said Turner. “My race was pretty poor but I came second, so I will take that.”
“I have heard that guy’s name (Shi) for a few years now and I know he has been running better times than me, so it was good to get close to him. ”If you train with the world record holder (Xiang Liu, who could not be here), you’re going to be no slouch!”

Andy Baddeley (Harrow) finished second in the Emsley Carr Mile in 4:10.08, just ahead of fellow Briton Michael East (Newham & Essex Beagles), who was third in 4:10.11 as American Gabe Jennings won in 4:10.02.

Britain’s sprinters finished in similar positions in the men’s 100m, a race won by American Jordan Vaden in 10.39. Lewis-Francis was second in 10.41 with Chambers third in 10.43.

 

“My legs are dead after last week,” said Lewis-Francis. “It has been a tough time.”

Chambers said: “I have paid my dues and I believe the crowd are forgiving. The sport needs to be patient at the moment because we are going through a tough phase where the sport is being cleaned up.”

In the high jump, Germaine Mason (Birchfield Harriers) failed to achieve a mark as Andrey Silnov won with 2.32m. Britain’s Martyn Bernard (City of Sheffield) was fourth with 2.15m.

For once on British shores, there was no world record in the women’s pole vault. But Russian Yelena Isinbayeva did win with 4.77m. Britain’s Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers Manchester) and Janine Whitlock (Belgrave Harriers) finished sixth and seventh respectively, both with 4.10m.

 

“I was hoping for 4.40m at least,” said Dennison. “I am a bit disappointed but I think I was tired from the European Championships.”

Tim Benjamin (Belgrave Harriers) was third in the 400m in 45.93, his final race of the summer, with Graham Hedman (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) fifth in 46.09 as American Jamel Ashley won in 45.55.

 

“I did not enjoy the race at all,” said Benjamin. My body is aching all over, but I wanted to run at home and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. That is it now for the season. I am going away to recuperate.”

In the women’s 1500m, Russian Olga Yegorova won in 4:09.53 with Helen Clitheroe (Preston Harriers) second in 4:10.17 and British teammate Katrina Wootton (Bedford & County) sixth in 4:16.47.
“I have been very consistent this season but not ran fast times,” said Clitheroe. “I need to improve on those times.”

Goldie Sayers (Belgrave Harriers) was third in the javelin with 58.10m as Ning Ma, of China, won with 59.74. Britain’s Jo Blair (Birchfield Harriers) was seventh with 49.50m.

In the 3000m steeplechase, Russian Tatyana Petrova won in all-comers record of 9:22.82 as Hattie Dean (Hallamshire Harriers) was a fine third in 9:52.33 and Jo Ankier (Shaftesbury Barnet) was sixth in 10:22.60.
“I thought that I might catch the girl in second place but I just missed out,” said Dean as Russian Yelena Sidorchenkova finished ahead of her in 9:46.09.

Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers) was fifth in the long jump with a best of 6.26m, fellow Briton Gillian Cooke (Edinburgh Southern) was seventh with 6.06m as Russian Oksana Udmurtova won with 6.79m.

In the shot put, as Christian Cantwell, of the USA, won with 21.13m, Britain’s Carl Myerscough (Blackpool and Hyde) was fourth with 19.93m and Sam Westlake Cann (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) making his Senior GB & NI debut was seventh with 17.61m, a personal best.

In the women’s 400m, Nicola Sanders (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) was fifth in 52.31, just ahead of teammate Jenny Meadows (Wigan & District) in 52.84 as Russian Tatyana Veshkurova won in 51.29.
“That was horrible,” said Sanders. “There are no excuses for that but after a Championship, you just mentally and physically drained.”

Britain’s women, who won silver at the European Championships 4 x 100m relay, were third today in 44.25 with a team of Anyika Onuora (Liverpool Harriers), Emily Freeman (Wakefield & District), Montell Douglas (Blackheath & Bromley) and Joice Maduaka (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) as Russia triumphed in 43.46 and the USA were second in 43.93.
It was a big day for the youngsters of in the Spar Sprint Series as the event came to an end.

In the women’s under-17 100m final, Ashlee Nelson (City of Stoke) made a fine start and was never caught, as she won in 11.73 ahead of Shaunna Thompson (Sale Harriers Manchester) in 11.95 with Chinedu Monye (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) third in 12.05, a season’s best.
Thompson was crowned the overall winner, and even though Nelson won three out of three, she did not accumulate enough points, missing some events during the season.

Olufumi Sobodu (Worthing) completed an excellent year of performances by winning the men’s equivalent in 10.78 and winning the overall title.
He came charging through at the 40m mark, to drive away to triumph in 10.78 from Antonio Infantino (Enfield & Haringey), second in 10.86, with English Schools champion Richard Kilty (Gateshead) third in 10.94.

Sobodu beat Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes), who is in the British 4 x 400m relay squad at the World Junior Championships in Beijing. The two overall winners of the SPAR series, each receive a bursary of £500.

The meeting opened with an invitation 100m, an opportunity for the men who would appear later in the relay to warm up. In the end it became a straightforward win for Devonish (Coventry Godiva) in 10.31, beating John Woods, of the USA, who was second in 10.54, with Tim Abeyie (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) third in 10.59.