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UK Athletics

BMC Grand Prix Report from Solihull

A top class BMC Nike Grand Prix on Saturday 24 June at Solihull, produced some brilliant individual performances, especially amongst the juniors and another fantastic haul of personal bests.


The highlights included two athletes inside 1:47 in the men's 800m, a sub 2:01 women's 800m, a sub 15:30 women's 5000m and a sub 4:06 women's 1500m, though maybe it was the UK age records by three of Britain's greatest young endurance talents, Emily Pidgeon and Sarah Hopkinson (both Gloucester AC ) and Stephanie Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District) that give the most optimism for the future.


Here is a round up of the action.


In the first A race, the 3000 metres steeplechase, paced by Andrew Lemoncello (Fife), Mark Draper (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) appeared to be the major beneficiary as he pushed on through 2K but later dropped out and that left Frank Tickner (Wells) in the lead. Tickner, ran a strong 66 last lap to smash his PB with 8:45.79 (188 UK Challenge points).


Ross Millington (Stockport) produced a 60 second last lap to win comfortably in 3:50.96, to go fifth on the UK all-time under 17 list, in the Men’s E race 1500m. In the Men’s 800m B race, junior James Mills (Wrexham) took third place dipping under 1:50 for the first time, recording a new personal best of 1:49.61.


The first race of international class was the Women's A 800m. Justine Kinney and Faith Machuria pushed the pace through 400m in 58.98 and 600 in 90 seconds. At this stage Commonwealth 1500m champion Lisa Dobriskey (Ashford) looked in control as she rounded the final bend but she was powerless to respond when Welsh Champion Amanda Pritchard (Cardiff) kicked by as they came into the straight.


Pritchard, with a previous best of just 2:03.85, finished full of running and was a delighted winner by a big 15m margin in 2:00.99, fractionally inside the UK elite standard for the European Athletics Championships (2:01) and scoring a fine 210 points.

'There are so many girls running well at 800m at the moment, the trials will be hard. I made a joke during warm up that I want to run sub 2:01 but I knew it was there. I felt good and very strong at the end and wished I'd gone earlier,' said Pritchard.

Cath Riley (Trafford) finished well for second and ran her first sub 2:03 with 2:02.79 while Dobriskey found the last 100m tough but only just missed her PB (2:02.90) with 2:02.95.'I got a bad cold after Loughborough and missed 2 weeks training and lacked strength in the straight,' said Dobriskey, who still felt it was encouraging.


Abby Westley (Hallamshire), a surprise winner of the 1500m in Watford, set a PB of 2:05.25 in seventh, and was again inside the UKA World Junior qualifying mark of 2:06.


The men's 800m A race also saw plenty of PBs. Michael Rimmer (Liverpool Pembroke Sefton) looked full of confidence after his 1:45.47 and looked the likeliest winner as they approached 600m (1:18) but he pulled out with a knee injury. As they came into the straight, Andrew Baddeley (Harrow), warming up for the European Cup 1500m, kicked ahead and though tightening in the second half of the straight he repelled the challenge of fellow 1500m runner Colin McCourt (Bournemouth).


Separated by a metre, both were inside 1:47 - McCourt, hampered by having to move into lane 4 in the straight, all the way down from 1:49.24 to 1:46.73. Baddeley's time of 1:46.62 earned 207 points.


'I'm really pleased with that as I've really been doing 1500m type training and don't do many 800s. I tensed up in the last 100m but it was just what I wanted for the Cup as they can be fast finishes,' said Baddeley.


Ireland's Dave Campbell was inside 1:47 in third while in fifth, junior Mark Mitchell (Forres) ran 1:49.09 though he already has the 1:49:00 qualifying time for Beijing.


The Women's B 1500m had a great finish won in 4:22.64 by 17 year-old Emma Pallant (Aldershot Farnham & District) from 14 year-old Sarah Hopkinson (Gloucester) and 16 year-old Jess Coulson (Stockport).


Hopkinson, who looked the likely winner for much of the race and with a racing head that belies her years, was the major story. Her 4:22.74 was a new UK age best taking just under a second off Isabel Linaker's mark from 1990.


The 1500m A race immediately followed and this looked like it would be one of the highlights and so it proved. Faith Macheria and Carolyne Chepkwony laid on the pace exactly as planned (64/2:09) and then Helen Clitheroe (Preston) took over as they passed the 1000m mark as she was looking to go close to the European elite qualifying time of 4:05.


Late addition to the race, Jo Pavey (Exeter) kicked ahead to lead through the bell (3:00.90) with Clitheroe still close but with 200m to go, Pavey eased away to win in a fine 4:05.91 (220 points). Clitheroe held on to second in 4:07.72.


Pavey said, 'I wanted to help Helen get the time but it's one of the hardest. The 1500m was a shock to the system to me but I'm pleased with it and this race will have done me a lot of good and bring me on more than a training session.'


While Pavey's performance was the best scoring of the meeting, it probably wasn't the most notable aspect of the race, as Stephanie Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District), kicked hard at the bell and was rewarded with a UK age 16 record of 4:12.76, to break Bridget Smyth's 4:15.20 from 22 years earlier.


Fellow juniors Jessica Sparke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) and Hannah England (Oxford City) were also inside the Beijing world junior qualifying mark of 4:20 with PB marks of 4:18.17 and 4:18.80 as overall 11 broke 4:20.


Twell, coached by Mick Woods, was very emotional after the race when she realised the enormity of her performance, she said, 'I knew Jo and Helen would be running 64s and so I wanted to run my own race rather than be sucked up into someone elses and so I stuck to 68s.


“From there I tried to pick it up and pick people off and I felt strong and felt I was really motoring and even closing slightly on Helen. I wanted to run the last 300m quicker than I ever have and break 4:15 so I'm amazed with 4:12.'


The Men's 1500 A race was dominated by three athletes preparing to represent Great Britain & Northern Ireland at the European Cup next week. Mo Farah (Newham & Essex Beagles) was clear at the bell (2:41.28), but lost his big lead down the back straight and it looked as if Kenyan Wesley Cheruiyot would run past him but Farah kicked again to hold on to a narrow win in 3:39.27 (205 points).


Chris Thompson (Aldershot Farnham & District) who seemed to suffer from the stop-start nature of the race was third in 3:41.33 and Steeplechaser Adam Bowden (Harrow) was close behind in fourth with 3:41.79.


The women's 5000m proved to be another highlight. Good pacemaking took the main contenders through 1km in 3:05 and 2K in 6:08. Kate Reed (Bristol & West) looked the leading British challenger at halfway (7:46) but an achilles injury meant she had to pull out, 'I felt really easy even though the injury has resticted me to 30 miles per week,' said a disappointed Reed.


Shortly after halfway, Commonwealth 10,000m bronze medallist Mara Yamuachi (Harrow) was the only one close to the pacemakers, albeit at one stage 15m down as she felt them accelerate but she was back in touch by 3000m (9:16). The constant pace was kept at through the last mile and Yamuachi found a last lap kick to smash her PB with 15:28.58 (211 points) with Vivian Cheryuiot racing her to the line.


'I felt strong and I've been working on my speed. I have a half-marathon in a few weeks in Sapporo, when I run against Noguchi and Ndereba,' said Yamuachi.


While Yamauchi's run was superb, arguably even better was Emily Pidgeon's performance. Pidgeon found herself isolated from the leading group and often making her own pace with fellow junior Sian Edwards (Kettering) close by watching her every move. Pidgeon dropped Edwards in the last mile and strode away to stop the clock at 15:41.00 to go second on the UK all time lists.


As Zola Budd's former world record is the only one ahead, Pidgeon's mark was the best ever by a British born junior and smashed the UK age 17 record.


'One pacemaker was too fast, the other too slow so I just tried to run the right pace myself and I felt really good. I knew Sian was there so I upped the pace in the last few laps, and still felt strong at the end,' said Pidgeon.


Sian Edwards went third on the UK junior all time lists with her big PB of 15:50.69, also well inside the Beijing qualifying mark of 16:00.


There were more Beijing qualifying times in the Women's B 800m. Danielle Christmas (Crawley) won in 2:05.67 with Emma Jackson (City of Stoke) also inside the all-important 2:06 with 2:05.93 as Britain's middle distance runners of all ages continue to go from strength to strength.


More improvements came in the Men’s C 1500m, with a win by junior Kris Gauson (Edinburgh) in a fine 3:45.09, which is closing in on the 3:44.00 qualifying mark and almost five seconds off his previous PB.


The meeting ended with the men's 5000m. After a fast first lap, the pace dropped off a little through 1km (2:48) and by 3K (8:18) only Somalian born Moumin Geele (Leicester) was challenging Kenyan Moses Kipsiro and Ugandan Isaac Kiproso. The Africans sped through the last few laps with Kipsiro (13:36.66) winning form Kiprop (13:41.59) and attention turned to the battle to be first Brit. Coming through strongly was Mark Warmby (Newham & Essex Beagles) but while he set a new PB (13:50.34) he felt he should have been closer to the first two and bemoaned the fact that he had to lead the chasing group for much of the race.


Mike Skinner (Blackheath & Bromley) clocked 13:51.61, Nick Goodliffe (Holmfirth) 13:54.66, Geele with 13:55.08 and Nick Talbot (Notts) with 13:56.18 all set personal bests to end another superb BMC Grand Prix.