Asha Philip wins the 60m at the British Indoor Championships in Birmingham (© Getty Images)
Competing on the same track that will host the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 in two weeks’ time, European indoor champions Asha Philip, Laura Muir and Andrew Pozzi took victories at the two-day British Indoor Championships, which concluded on Sunday (18).
Five of the women’s 60m finalists had set PBs in the semifinals, suggesting the final could be close. But Philip ultimately won convincingly in a season’s best of 7.12 to secure her third successive British indoor 60m title.
World 4x100m silver medallist Daryll Neita and Commonwealth 200m bronze medallist Bianca Williams finished second and third respectively in 7.26 and 7.28, both just 0.02 shy of the PBs they had set earlier in the day.
“I felt like I had a great winter and the indoor season has started well,” said Philip, who also featured on the silver medal-winning 4x100m squad in London last year. “I will only accept a medal at the World Indoors. This is my time – I’ve finished fourth and fifth, and gone out in semi-finals, but I’m not doing that this time.”
Muir bided her time for the first half of the 3000m before hitting the front with a few laps remaining and showing the kind of speed that carried her to two titles at last year’s European Indoor Championships.
Having covered the final kilometre in roughly 2:42, Muir stopped the clock at 8:46.71 to win by four seconds from European indoor bronze medallist Eilish McColgan, who won the 1500m title 24 hours later.
“I wanted to test my speed over the last few laps and I’m really pleased with how I executed the race,” said Muir. “My training has gone really well and my sessions this week have been very close to PB sessions, so I’m in really good form and it’s about maintaining that in the next couple of weeks before the World Indoor Championships.”
Pozzi overcame a sluggish start to retain his 60m hurdles title in a season’s best of 7.58. In second, David King equalled his PB of 7.63 after leading for most of the race.
“I’ll need to race a lot better than that at the World Indoors, I’m aware of that,” said Pozzi, who recorded a reaction time of 0.227. “I am in good shape, similar to last year, so I really want to take that sort of form into those championships, here in Birmingham.”
Solo run for Oskan-Clarke
After being put under pressure in the heats, European indoor silver medallist Shelayna Oskan-Clarke front-ran her way to victory – and a PB – to win the 800m.
She covered the first two laps in 57.06 and maintained her lead to the end to win in 2:00.06, securing her spot on the host nation’s team for the World Indoor Championships. Mhairi Hendry finished second in a big PB of 2:01.30, comfortably inside the qualifying standard for Birmingham.
“I’m trying to get better tactically and, if I’m not at the front, making sure not to stress and make the moves when I’m meant to,” said Oskan-Clarke. “Today was my last chance to put a good time out going into Birmingham and I’m really happy with that.”
The men’s 60m was similarly hotly contested. 2014 world indoor champion Richard Kilty showed good form during the rounds, but withdrew from the final after sustaining an injury. In his absence, IAAF Diamond League 100m champion CJ Ujah sped to a 6.56 victory, winning by 0.06 from defending champion Andrew Robertson.
Any one of Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s five valid efforts would have been enough to comfortably win the long jump. After opening with 6.62m, the heptathlon specialist improved to a season’s best of 6.71m in the second round. She rounded out her series with jumps of 6.49m, 6.57m and 6.35m.
Greg Rutherford won the men’s event, but, unlike Johnson-Thompson, the 2012 Olympic champion was put under pressure throughout the competition.
His opening effort of 7.80m was ultimately enough to win, but Adam McMullen finished just five centimetres adrift.
Doyle, Bosworth and Davies dominate
Eilidh Doyle successfully defended her 400m title. The 2014 European 400m hurdles champion got to the bell first and held her lead for the second lap, crossing the line in 51.84 to win from Zoey Clark (52.12). It was Doyle’s fastest time since taking the 2013 European indoor silver medal at the distance.
While Doyle scooped her third national indoor 400m title, 20-year-old Lee Thompson won his first over the distance, clocking a PB of 46.23 to win the men’s event.
Tom Bosworth outlined his status as Britain’s top race walker by winning the men’s 5000m race walk in a national indoor record of 18:28.70, winning by more than a minute.
Training partner Bethan Davies was similarly dominant in the women’s event, also winning by a huge margin to set a national indoor record of 21:25.37.
There were several surprises on the infield. 2015 European junior champion Adam Hague, still just 20, earned his first national senior title by winning the pole vault with a lifetime best of 5.65m and equalling the championship record in the process.
Nathan Douglas, meanwhile, rolled back the years to win the triple jump with 16.77m, his best indoor jump since taking silver at the 2007 European Indoor Championships in the same venue.
The women’s shot put had drama and unprecedented domestic depth. 2011 world U18 silver medallist Sophie McKinna led from the outset and improved to an outright PB of 17.34m in the third round. But training partner Rachel Wallader saved her best for the final round and unleashed an indoor PB of 17.45m to move into first place. McKinna responded with the best throw of her life, but her 17.42m effort was just three centimetres shy of Wallader’s leading mark.
Britain’s World Championships representatives Jake Wightman and Elliot Giles won the 1500m and 800m respectively, both showing impressive finishing speed. Wightman clocked 3:43.83 to take the 1500m title from Charlie Grice, while Giles won a tactical race over four laps of the track in 1:49.91.
Elsewhere, Andrew Heyes won the men’s 3000m in a PB of 7:54.81, Italy’s Antonio Infantino won the men’s 200m in 20.77 and Finette Agyepong took the women’s one-lap sprint in 23.30.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF