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Highlights of this weekend’s indoor action

 

20 January 2008

 

On the first big weekend of the indoor season, Phillips Idowu (Belgrave Harriers) made his best-ever start to an indoor season, Jessica Ennis (Trafford AC) went close to equalling the UK high jump record of 1.96m at the Saucony Open at Loughborough University, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Sutton and District AC) ended his 11-month injury battle with the 60m bronze medal at the South of England AA Indoor Championships and Richard Buck (City of York AC) lowered his North of England AA Indoors 400m Championships Best to celebrate his call into the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for next Saturday’s Norwich Union International on BBC TV from Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall.

 

Here’s a quick run through the weekend’s major highlights…

 

60m: With all eyes on Harry AA’s return to action after his recovery from a back injury suffered during warm weather training last spring, he was quickest down the Lee Valley straight in the first round (6.81 seconds), the second round (6.74) and semi-final (6.72, the fastest time in the UK this indoor season). But his “absolutely atrocious” – his description – start to the final left him too much to do and, despite a powerful finish, he was placed third in 6.72 seconds behind 20-year-old social worker Elijah Winn (Enfield and Haringey AC), who clocked 6.71, and Sierre Leone international Gibril Bangura. While Harry AA took considerable consolation from coming through four rounds in no pain, youth worker Elijah – ranked 25th in the UK over 60m last winter – delighted at the prospect of showing the troubled teenagers of the North London suburb of Crouch End his gold medal and telling them: “If I can do it, you can!”

As if his club need any more sprinters! His club mate Jordan Huggins won the Under 20s’ title in 6.79 while Harry AA’s Under 17 CBP of 6.95 seconds was well and truly beaten by Kieran Showler-Davis (Winchester and District AC), who won his final in 6.86.

At the North of England Indoors at the EIS Sheffield – venue of next month’s Norwich Union World Trials and UK Championships – Anyika Onuora (Liverpool Harriers) took three-hundredths off the seven-year-old CBP by her club mate Diane Allahgreen in winning her first round heat in 7.42 and was then pushed to 7.40 in the final by European Junior 200m Champion Hayley Jones (Wigan Harriers), who clocked 7.52.

 

400m:

Richard Buck (City of York AC) celebrated his call-up into the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the Norwich Union International by winning his North Indoor Championships first round heat in 48.26 seconds and the final in 47.05, lowering his CBP of 47.62 and hopefully ending an indoor jinx in which he has been disqualified from the NU European Trial after crossing the line first, been injured in winning a race that helped Sheffield retain the Indoor City Challenge trophy and had a 300m time trial ruined by it being over-distance.

Amazingly, his final time was matched in the South by Steven Green (Newham and Essex Beagles), taking 0.85sec off the CBP he achieved last year. Dale Garland (Birchfield) was second in 47.41.

The Midlands race of the day came in the Women’s final: Laura Langowski (Coventry Godiva) won in 54.29 seconds, a CBP, just two-hundredths ahead of sparkling junior Meghan Beesley (Tamworth AC), who clocked yet another PB only a week after she won the England Athletics Junior Women’s Combined Events title in dramatic and high-quality style.

The South Women’s final was also a fabulous head-to-head: Mel Purkiss (Team Southampton) made all the pace but could not shake-off Tara Bird (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), who got up in the final five strides to win by two-hundredths of a second in 55.57, a CBP by a massive margin in an event that only became possible when Lee Valley hosted last year’s Championships.

 

Mile:

A week after winning the 4.4km race at the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country, Andy Baddeley (Harrow AC) turned out on the boards in New York and scored a storming win in 3:59.29. He led at 1500m in 3:45.86 so covered that last segment in a swift 13.43!

 

60m hurdles:

Sarah Claxton (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) won the first ‘leg’ of her South of England hat-trick in style, clocking 8.18 to knock 0.12sec off the record set by Olympian Jacqui Agyepong in 1991. Claxton later won the 60m sprint final in 7.52 – and completed her treble on Sunday with a long jump of 6.16m.

Jessica Ennis won the North title on Sunday with 6.15m, put the shot 12.78m (and was beaten by 1.01m by her 18-year-old training partner, Amy Hill) and then went off to do a weights session.

Sara McGreavy (Sake) lowered the Midlands CBP to 8.27 in winning at the NIA.

 

High jump:

On Saturday, Ennis equalled her indoor lifetime best of 1.91m and went extremely close to the UK record height of 1.96m in her first outing of the year at the Saucony Loughborough Open. She was pleased with that, especially as she is still in heavy training, but confessed to feeling “sluggish” in her 60m hurdles, in which she clocked 8.32. Susan Moncrieff (Trafford AC) made a welcome return to action from a serious injury suffered in July and won the North of England Indoor title with a 1.85m clearance.

 

Pole vault:

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Steve Lewis (Newham and Essex Beagles) cleared an indoor best of 5.53m, within 8cm of his lifetime best, at Vault Manchester on Saturday. His training partner in Steve Rippon’s training group at Loughborough, Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers Manchester) won the women’s competition with 4.23m.

 

Long jump:

Chris Kirk (Newham and Essex Beagles) produced the highlight of day two of the Northern Indoors – a leap of 7.75m to win by a colossal margin of 55cm.

Jonathan Moore (Birchfield) won the Midlands title with a leap of 7.34, one of five CBPs on the day at the NIA.

 

Triple jump:

Phillips Idowu began his Olympic year’s competition sensationally at the South of England Indoors at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre that is his training base with his coach, John Herbert. Round one: 16.96m, adding 48cm to the record he set 12 months ago on his way to the European indoor title. Round two: 17.06m. Rounds three and four: marginal fouls that looked in the 17.30-17.40m range. Having had four months’ solid training since the back injury was repaired by the UK Athletics medical team, he said: “I don’t think I have ever felt this good ever. The stuff I have been doing in training is the best work I have done. I was a little bit nervous last night because you never know how the first competition will go. Now I know I can jump 17 metres easily. Consistently I was hopping and stepping 12 metres. I usually don’t get close to that before the summer.”

 

Shot:

Eden Francis (Leicester Coritanian AC) began life as a Senior by winning with a put of 15.22m at the Saucony Indoor Open organised by Loughborough Students AC’s Nick Dakin at the UK Athletics East Midlands High Performance Centre at Loughborough University. Her put of 15.22m put her more than a metre clear at the top of the Power of 10 rankings for this infant season.

 

For a comprehensive review of successes through the age groups, please click roundup

 

For all the North of England Indoor Championships results, click North2