City of Sheffield and Dearne athletes Lee Thompson and Adam Hague were in outstanding form at the British Indoor Championships in Birmingham over the weekend winning the 400 metres and pole vault respectively.
Northern champion Thompson headed the rankings coming into the championships and was fastest in heat and semi-final, but his run in the final was a revelation.
Drawn in the outside lane, he stormed into the lead from the gun and went through 200 metres in 22.04 with a substantial lead.
He was never going to maintain that pace but he continued strongly and never looked like being caught although Sudanese athlete Sadam Koumi was closing at the finish.
If the manner of Thompson’s win was impressive, so was his time, 46.23 – half a second inside the qualifying time for the World Indoor Championships to be held on the same Birmingham track, so Thompson, only 20 years old, booked his place.
“I didn’t think I had that time in me, I’m just over the moon,” said Thompson. “I was confident I would get the qualifying time for the World Indoors, but I never thought I’d run 46.23, especially not after the heats yesterday. This is just completely overwhelming.”
Fourth was Thompson’s Sheffield team-mate Grant Plenderleith with a personal best of 47.27 and he took the bronze medal in the British Championship.
Hague, another 20-year-old, was a class above the rest with a championship record of 5.65.
It added five centimetres to his previous best set in 2015, and beat Harry Coppell (Wigan) and Charlie Myers (Middlesbrough) by no less than 30 centimetres with Hague’s Sheffield team-mate Luke Cutts finishing fourth, unable to continue his impressive run of success in this meeting.
Hague’s competition was flawless, clearing every height at his first attempt. It sets him up nicely for the Commonwealth Games in Australia where he will be a serious medal contender.
Hague’s height was short of the very tough World qualifier but the host country can select one athlete regardless of the standard and it would make sense to name Hague when the team is announced tomorrow.
“It was amazing – literally the perfect competition,” said Hague.
“I don’t think it could possibly have gone better than that. It is great to win this British title, it really means a lot. I’ve put 10cm on my best which is a bigger improvement than I expected. I thought I would improve my best but I wasn’t sure this was possible.
“I go into the Commonwealth Games with so much confidence now – I am so excited to compete for England on the Gold Coast.”
There was a third Sheffield win, this time by Hallamshire Harrier Andrew Heyes. His decision to concentrate on indoor competition rather than cross country paid off with a perfectly executed 3000 metres. Heyes was quickly into a good position, handily in fourth place as the big field soon strung out into single file.
He made no attempt to hit the front until 500 metres to go when his acceleration took him into a significant lead. The chasing group were unable to make an impact on the Hallamshire man who came home clear in 7:54.81.
The top three all ran personal best times. Heyes was close to the World qualifier of 7:52 but, as with Adam Hague in the pole vault, the selectors have the option to include him.
There was the expected win in the shot by Scott Lincoln (City of York). His 18.40 in the third round was 76 centimetres ahead of his nearest rival.
His York team-mate Lucy Hadaway took the bronze medal in the women’s long jump with 6.06, just missing silver in an event won easily by Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
Andrew Morgan-Harrison (Kingston upon Hull) was third in the 200m with a personal best of 21.05. The winner was Italian Antonio Infantino and so Morgan-Harrison took the silver medal in the British championship, just one hundredth of a second away from the gold medal.
Leeds-based Tom Bosworth was his usual flawless self in the 5,000m walk treating the crowd to an exhibition with a time of 18:28.70.
Richard Kilty has ruled himself out of contention for a second world title over 60m after injury brought an early end to his indoor season.
Kilty, who was a 66/1 outsider when he won the World Indoor title in 2014, looked on course to book his place in the British team for this year’s event when he reached the final in Birmingham.
However, the recurrence of an Achilles injury forced the 28-year-old from Teesside to withdraw from the final, which saw CJ Ujah claim victory in 6.56 seconds.