15 Feb UK Indoor Championships Review – Women

Having reviewed the men’s action, it is now time to move onto the ladies and pick up the best moments and performances across a very lively weekend at the EIS in Sheffield.

60m

“The quick and the dead(ly)”… That might render how clinical, as well as silky smooth and quick on the draw, turned Asha Philip down the infield straight to nonchalantly destroy the field and take her game to new territories in a sensational 7.15 secs in the final, as if taking a leaf out of Sharon Stone‘s prowess and firepower in the well-known western film.

It wasn’t all about the time, the third fastest by a Brit ever in the indoor dash, or the surprisingly large gap on the opposition, crossing the line a sound 0.18 secs up on runner-up Annabelle Lewis (7.33); it was also about execution and slick motion where the 24-year-old sprinter excelled. Lightning out of her blocks, sweet transition and powerful drive through to nail the race sight unseen by the first 10m out!

The warning of what was to come was issued earlier in the semifinals where she eased up to a temporary UK-leading 7.21 secs in an identical pattern, showing how much she has worked on this racing model, and she will be turning her sights on something even sharper on the fast track of the NIA in Birmingham against the very best the world has to offer; Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter!

Lewis, for her part, rounded off a good championships with silver in 7.33 secs but may feel a little hard done by to come four times narrowly shy of the qualifying standard so far, hoping that her last chance will turn out a lucky one, while Anyika Onuora nicked a rather surprise bronze on a photofinish decision of a three-way tight finish with Hayley Jones and burgeoning U20 Dina Asher-Smith tied in an identical 7.37 secs, the latter setting a PB of 7.35 secs in the build-up to the final.

Montell Douglas‘s chances suffered a blow as she could muster only sixth in 7.40, the same as PB’ing Margaret Adeoye, but bounced back superbly to erase her six-year old PB into a substantial qualifier of 7.25 and turn the tables, gaining a slight edge and applying more pressure on the rest over the remaining two places on the team heading to Birmingham.

200m

Adeoye showed purpose and launched into the pursuit of a follow-up on her recent indoor PB of 22.98 secs, third fastest ever in the UK, in a flying first 150m but lactic eventually caught up with her in the late stages to reduce her winning time to 23.22 secs, still a solid time and her second fastest ever indoors.

The Olympic semifinalist is turning her hand a distance up to the 400m in Birmingham and it is going to be intriguing to see what her impact will be, holding a respectable PB of 53.43 secs outdoors – maybe even earn a surprise call-up to the long relay in Gothenburg on top?

Christine Ohuruogu displayed her strength in full as she came runner-up in a SB of 23.58 secs on the back of four races to tune up her speed at the weekend, a SB of 7.58 secs in the heats as well, and Louise Bloor got third in 23.95 secs, a SB of 23.91 in the heats.

Dina Asher-Smith dipped inside 24 secs for the first time indoors in a 23.91 PB as a fastest loser but didn’t contest the final while U23 Bianca Williams also earned an indoor PB of 23.96 secs in the heats.

400m

If Perri Shakes-Drayton‘s last-minute withdrawal felt like a slight let-down, a roaring Eilidh Child turned up equal to the challenge and quick to dismiss the effect as she thundered round the raked track in style to a big total PB and stunner of 52.06 secs, storming the top of the European charts in the process.

Coming back to the final the following day, the Scot displayed rich resources of strength and sound consistency as well to emulate that performance as she chased hard a first trip under 52 secs in identical fashion but eventually the effect of two races in as many days told late to fall slightly short in a still fabulous follow-up of 52.13 secs, easily her second fastest mark ever still.

The outcome of the championships comes now to inaugurate a potential new chapter of the rivalry between Britain’s top two 400m hurdlers on equal terms and a first knife-edge episode will be played out in the arena of Birmingham where both could draw inside 52 secs, spurred on by a formidable American duo of Ebony Floyd and Natasha Hastings on show.

Also very interesting will be what the bearing of a shifting of balance on the scene is going to be turn on the outdoor season and the hurdles, with anticipation being whipped up.

Shana Cox ran her own mature race behind to keep a firm grip on the second outright spot throughout in a SB of 52.97 secs, the trio looking poised to fill the three individual places on the British team, where new-look Meghan Beesley offered a good account of herself a place behind in 53.15 and ought to receive a relay call-up.

As should, come to that, Laura Wake who came in slightly behind in a ground-breaking run and huge indoor PB of 53.26 secs that augurs well for her outdoor season.

800m

The worrying signs of the heats, pipped out late of an outright spot, manifested themselves as ghosts to haunt an early lively Marilyn Okoro as she was forced to tread water in the final stages, a hamstring problem creeping in, and eventually stepped out of the track just 20m out as first a revamped Alison Leonard, just as the previous day, and then out of the woodwork eventual winner Claire Tarplee (2:03.66, iPB) came past.

The setback was double for the former world finalist who will miss the rest of the indoor term but Leonard will be pleased with an unexpected indoor title accompanied with an indoor PB of 2:03.88, drawing steadily back on track.

1500m

Laura Muir continued her rise on the domestic front and confirmed her favourite ranking as she pulled away in assured manner to a comfortable win in 4:13.59, her second qualifier and best ever, to book her place on the Sweden-bound British outfit.

As importantly, the 19-year-old comes to add to an event with an abundance of resources both at the top and through the ranks  while also welcome was the sight of two further U23 girls fighting it out for the minor medals on unknown grounds before, Rosie Clarke and Melissa Courtney in huge PBs of 4:17.09 and 4:17.57 respectively.

3000m

The line of fast races in recent seasons was kept up courtesy of a brave front-running by burgeoning U20 Jessica Judd to set up a rampant Lauren Howarth for a striking runaway victory in a huge PB of 8:56.48, first time under 9 minutes in any environment.

The self-coached Leigh athlete will fancy her chances of achieving the tough qualifying standard of 8:51.00 running off the anticipated searing pace up front in Birmingham and snatch a late selection.

Emily Stewart enjoyed a good display to come second in an indoor PB of 9:08.47 and Judd, although rather disappointed after the race, was rewarded for her pains with an indoor best of 9:14.71, the third fastest ever by an U20 girl on the boards – and could climb a place higher in the ranks in Birmingham.

60m hurdles

The old guns turned back the clock to prevail over the sticks as former world champion Derval O’Rourke (IRL) and Sarah Claxton fought it out neck and neck before the former edged ahead off the final hurdle in a SB of 8.10 secs.

Runner-up in 8.16 secs, Claxton’s plans for the rest of the indoor term remain rather unknown, yet good to be seen in her best form for a while, where promising teenager Yasmin Miller made another solid step towards an exciting future as she reduced her PB down to 8.25 secs for silver, second fastest by an U20 ever and a mere 0.03 secs off the respective UK record – and there looks more in the tank.

Also notable was Serita Solomon‘s PB of 8.23 secs in the heats, fourth in the final in 8.28, as the event is encouragingly growing in strength behind absent Tiffany Porter and Jessica Ennis.

High Jump

Unfortunately, Emma Perkins could not reproduce her turn-up performance on the same ground a year ago and was simply content with a narrow title on countback on 1.81m (SB) as the event keeps struggling bad.

Alongside her, however, battled all the way the exciting talent of 15-year-old multi-eventer Morgan Lake to edge a fabulous overall PB at the same height and underline her vast potential once more.

The UK U17 best lies still a long way up in the hands of Debbie Marti with a brace of 1.88s in the distant 1983 but the new prospect of British high jumping has got a lot of time on hand to eventually reach there.

Pole Vault

Holly Bleasdale delivered in emphatic style the performance of the championships as she soared over a world-leading 4.77m, her second highest ever, and even dared go for a mighty 4.90m next to clinch her fourth win in as many outings this winter.

It was always meant to turn a long lonely ride up in the skies for the Istanbul bronze medallist, who literally started off where everybody else wound up in the competition, as she is ever growing in stature and confidence among the world’s elite and looks as though the favourite for the Europeans in Gothenburg.

Her momentum didn’t quite rub off on the others on the day, nevertheless, although former groupmate Katie Byres and resurgent U20 Lucy Bryan can be content with silver and bronze on countback over 4.20m – but for Sally Peake it was a competition she would like to put behind her quickly (4.05).

Long Jump

Shara Proctor‘s late withdrawal, having set 7.51 secs in the 60m heats the previous day, took away a good deal off the gloss and U20 hot prospect Jazmin Sawyers never got going into a competion, her 6.10m still an indoor PB, that lacked that bite at the top.

Dominique Blaize performed to her strengths, however, to lay her hands on a surprise UK title at a SB of 6.29m and there was an encouraging silver on an equal indoor best of 6.29m for multi-eventer Jade Surman.

Triple Jump

World indoor champion Yamile Aldama could still not spark into form, although she clinched automatic qualification through a 13.44m (SB) winning mark, and is facing a race against time to arrive in Gothenburg in competitive shape.

Her outing in Birmingham will tell a lot more about her prospects but she will definitely need to line up a jump around the 14m region at this stage.

Sineade Gutzmore was a mere cm shy of her recent indoor and equal total PB at 13.29m to extent a good season of hers.

Shot Put

New UK U20 indoor record holder Sophie McKinna endured a frustrating afternoon as she could not get into her rhythm to end up third at 15.76m and Rachael Wallader made the most of affairs to grab a rather surprise national gong at an indoor PB of 16.19m.

Good outing for Shanaugh Brown too getting in between with also an indoor PB of 16.07m.

Costas Goulas