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Sprinters flock to UK Indoor City Challenge

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There has been a great response to the decision by the UK Athletics Competitions Department to add a 60m SprintsFest to the UK Indoor City Challenge semi-final at the newly opened Lee Valley Athletics Centre in North London on Sunday 28 January.

 

A total of 21 Men and 5 Women asked for lanes between Wednesday afternoon and noon on Saturday 27 January. And meeting director Paul Aldridge has decided to give them all an opportunity to run on the track on which Craig Pickering clocked a world leading 6.56 seconds last Sunday.

 

When Pickering became European Junior 100m champion in 2005, he could never have dreamt he would become a Pied Piper so quickly for athletes aiming to challenge him for places in Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Teams in the future.

 

Aldridge, who initially said he was willing to add two extra races for 12 athletes, said: “I think we’ll run four extra heats for Men and one extra for Women in addition to the match races. It won’t mean too much change to the timetable and it’s much better to do that than to disappoint athletes who want a decent race. They are obviously focused on improving performance, which is what the UKA Competitions Department is all about.”

 

The athletes who have signed-up for the extra races in the match – the first to be organised by the governing body since Lee Valley opened close to the site on which London 2012 will be staged – are…

 

Men: Isaish Adekanmbi, Milton Baker, Dwayne Bovell, James Bridge, Gary Carr, James Dasaolu, Rikki Fifton, Tremayne Gilling, Jason Greenidge, Hamin Iubega, Nick Leavey, Keith Marle, Andy Mensah, Michael Otubambo, Daniel Plummer, Lloyd Rice, Leroy Slue, Greg Smith, Nick Smith, Eli Winn, Bernard Yeboah. These are in addition to the match competitors, currently listed as Seriashe Childs, Darren Chin, Danny Doyley, Mark Lewis-Francis, Alex Nelson and Ryan Scott.

 

Women: Melinda Cooksey, Johnelle Gibbons, Crystal Robinson, Claire Spurway and Ruth Watson. These are in addition to the match competitors: Emma Bailey, Rozelle Cavaciuti, Amy Harris, Emma Heath, Montell Douglas and current Power of 10 No.1 Laura Turner.

 

Their heats will slot in immediately after the 60m match races in the match between Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London North, London South and Oxford which promises quality competition in all events.

 

There were 30 personal best performances last weekend at the first semi-final, when Manchester, Glasgow and reigning champions Sheffield qualified for places in the final of the competition created by UK Athletics to help athletes take the step up in standard from regional to international level.

 

And many more personal records are expected this weekend as athletes chase shares of the £8,500 prize pot provided by UKA and its sponsors.

 

Current leaders of Power of 10 rankings set to compete include sprinter Laura Turner, 800m runner Chris Reynolds, triple jumper Nadia Williams and high jumper Samson Oni, who faces UK Challenge Champion Tom Parsons as both pursue the European Indoor Championships elite qualifying height of 2.26m.

 

There are also a host of Norwich Union GB senior and junior internationals who will be aiming for the Norwich Union European Trials at the Sheffield EIS on 10 and 11 February. Among them are Lesley Owusu in the 200m and 400m, 1500m runners Charlotte Best and Jessica Sparke, hurdlers Damien Greaves, William Sharman and Julie Pratt, high jumper Julie Crane, pole vaulter Andy Marsh, long jumper Amy Harris, triple jumper Julian Golley, shot putters Emeka Udechuku and Jo Duncan, and multi eventer Roger Skedd.