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UK Athletics

Celtic Cup Report

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Scotland won the Celtic Cup on Thursday 17 August, at Grangemouth Stadium. The home team scored 43 points from Ireland's 32 and Wales 25. The event was part of the UK Challenge, though the very strong headwinds meant point scoring was hard and there was little change to the top 8 in each events standings.


The innovative match, was in the news as British sprinter Darren Campbell (Sale Harriers Manchester) announced his retirement after winning his 100m race in 10.66, highly impressive running into a very strong 3.3mps headwind. Scottish 200m champion Nick Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) was second in 10.84.


Scotland dominated most of the action on the track with their Team captain Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet) winning the 200m in 23.95, superb running into a 3.0 headwind which left Anna Boyle, a 23.75 performer this year, 8 metres back. In the 400m the Norwich Union European Trials runner-up Gemma Nicol (Dunfermline & West Fife) showed great strength to win her 400 in 54.37. That netted 153 points and was enough to move Nicol from 10th to 3rd and a guaranteed place in the UK Challenge final at Manchester on August 27.


One who already leads the challenge, Jo Ross won the 800min 2:08.24 though her front run in the strong winds couldn't improve her 800m score. Commonwealth Games medallist Julie Crane (Sale Harriers Manchester) won the high jump with a clearance of 1.80m. The competitors were all limited to just 5 jumps each.


There was a record in the rarely run 4x1500m relay. Ireland (17.29.88) won a competitive race from Scotland (17:34.58). In fourth the BMC junior team of Sarah Hopkinson (Gloucester), Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester), Jessica Sparke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) and Emma Pallant (Aldershot Farnham & District) set a world junior record of 18:17.4, averaging around 4:34 per leg in the windy conditions. Scotland won the unusual medley Relay in 3:52.16 which consisted of a women's 800, two men's 200m and then a women's 400m.


International stars in action included Merlene Ottey. In terms of medals and length of career, easily the world's greatest ever women sprinter, 46 year-old Ottey had to work hard to win in 11.92 (in a minus 2.6 headwind) from Boyle's 12.08 and UK Challenge 100m leader Susan Deacon (Edinburgh Southern) 12.12.

American mile sensation Alan Webb, won the mile. Webb who has distant Scottish ancestry and was third in the Scottish Champs over 800m earlier in the week, won the mile easily in 4:02.73, not surprisingly well down on his 3:48.92 pb.


Fellow American Jeb Harris won the 600m in 78.45 (where there were good British efforts from Scottish 800m champion Graham Oudney (Belgrave) in 78.36 and Wales' James Nasrat (Cardiff) on 78.74). Former World Indoor 400m Champion Tyree Washington was a distant last in 88.53 and he too announced his retirement.


The top performance of the meeting came from Ireland's Norwich Union & European Trials winner Eileen O'Keefe. She won the hammer with a huge 69.32, which was worth 231 points. The best domestic performance came from Shirley Webb (Trafford). Webb's 64.80 was her best throw in the Challenge and upped her overall score and lead though only by 4 points. It earned 209 points and her previous 7 efforts in the Challenge scored between 201 and 208.


There are 48 events in the UK Challenge throughout the season to score points in, culminating in the final at Manchester on the 27 August.