Matthew Hudson-Smith at the British Championships (© Getty Images)
Matthew Hudson-Smith’s third career sub-45-second performance was one of the key highlights at the three-day British Championships that concluded in Birmingham on Sunday (26).
Attacking the first 100 metres, the European silver medallist ran a measured race on the championships’ wet and windy final day, accelerating into the home straight and winning by some five metres in 44.88. Rabah Yousif, sixth at the IAAF World Championships last summer, was second in a season’s best of 45.52.
“To know I am now going to Rio is just indescribable,” said Hudson-Smith, whose 44.75 lifetime best dates back to 2014. “It was a really strong field and we have some fantastic athletes which is great for our relay team.”
Hudson-Smith and Yousif were among 38 athletes who secured their spots over the weekend on the Rio-bound Olympic squad.
Competitive sprint finals
20-year-olds Dina Asher-Smith and Desiree Henry went 1-2 in the women’s 200m on Sunday, the duo separated by just 0.02 seconds. Running into a marginal headwind, Asher-Smith led with 50 metres to go and just held off Henry as she stopped the clock in 23.11.
The men’s 200m also saw a 0.02 winning margin, with European champion Adam Gemili getting the better of the in-form Danny Talbot. After a late start to the season due to injury, Gemili is starting to round into form at just the right time, his 20.44 clocking and the win a confidence boost as he targets his first global medal in Rio.
“I’m over the moon – it’s the best feeling in the world,” Gemili said. “I had to come here and run a time, and finish in the top two to guarantee selection, so it is a big relief I’ve done that. There have been a lot of guys running very quick this year but I’m still not where I want to be. I want to win a medal at a global championship and at the moment my best chance of doing that is in the 200m. If I can get myself in the final I know I’ll be competitive. I am going out there to make the final and win a medal. If I don’t, I’ll be quite disappointed and I think that’s the attitude you need to have.”
On Saturday there were fireworks in the men’s 100m final as, aided by a 3.0m/s tailwind, James Dasaolu led three men under 10 seconds as he won his first national 100m title in 9.93. Running his 9.91 personal best in the semi-finals of these championships three summers ago, Dasaolu held his nerve best in the close race to recapture the kind of form that saw him win the 2014 European title.
Better known as a 200m man, James Ellington has found a new lease of life over the shorter event this summer, and he finished strongest of all to secure second in 9.96, with Chijindu Ujah also dipping under 10 seconds in third.
In the women’s event Desiree Henry had looked best through the rounds, running 11.14 and 11.15, but it was Asha Philip who prevailed in the final to win her third British title. Philip, a traditionally strong starter, tore out of the blocks and never looked back, winning easily in 11.17. Emerging talent Daryll Neita took second in 11.24, with Henry having to settle for third in 11.26.
Hurdlers in form
Eilidh Doyle ran a notable solo race to win the 400m hurdles title on Sunday in 54.93, undisturbed by the strong wind down the back straight. After top-three positions at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Birmingham and Rome, and a win in Doha, the Scot is another British athlete aiming to land her maiden global medal this summer.
“I never take anything for granted because you’ve still got to go out and execute the race,” Doyle said. “I had to remain focused but I’m happy to put on a show this afternoon. It’s great to confirm qualification for the Olympic Games. I’m confident going into that competition as the hurdles field on the international stage is wide open this year. I’ve got to keep working hard because they don’t just hand out medals to anyone.”
In Sunday’s men’s sprint hurdles, Andrew Pozzi ran the race of his life as he stormed to a 13.31 personal best to beat Paris-based Lawrence Clarke. Injuries have been the limiting factor for Pozzi, who hasn’t raced at the outdoor British Championships since 2012, but if he can stay in one piece he should be targeting at least a place in the Rio final.
Saturday was a good day for sisters Tiffany Porter and Cindy Ofili as they booked their Olympic spots, finishing first and second in the 100m hurdles final in 12.91 and 12.93 respectively.
6.75m PB for Sawyers
Jazmin Sawyers produced the best jump of her life to win the title and achieve her second Olympic qualifying standard, meaning she’s an automatic pick for the Olympic squad. After having issues with the board, the national indoor champion reached 6.75m in round five to beat Shara Proctor, who jumped 6.65m.
Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz won the men’s high jump on countback, as both he and 2.36m man Chris Baker cleared 2.26m.
The previous day Holly Bradshaw cleared 4.60m, her best vault since last year’s World Championships, before going close at 4.72m. Having only returned to competition three weeks ago, she’ll be hoping for further improvement between now and the Olympic Games.
Muir continues to impress
After breaking the Scottish mile record in Oslo three weeks ago, Laura Muir continued her good form in Birmingham, stamping her authority on a tactical women’s 1500m with 300 metres to go. A huge injection of pace saw her move well clear of the field, crossing the line in 4:10.14 after a 60-second last lap.
In a tight women’s 800m contest, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke overhauled Lynsey Sharp over the final few strides to take her first British title in 2:01.80.
Pete Matthews for the IAAF