Skip to content

UK Athletics Championships Round-Up - Day 1

Jeremiah Azu Celebrating.jpg

29/06/2024 00:00, In Blog /

There was a silver lining to the Manchester rainclouds as Wales’ fastest man Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff Athletics) claimed an individual spot at the Paris Olympics by finishing second in the 100m at the UK Athletics Championships and Great Britain team trials

Azu produced a superb performance in the rain as he pushed gold-medallist Louie Hinchcliffe all the way to the finishing line in the last final of the day at the Manchester Regional Arena.

The Welshman clocked 10.25 behind USA-based Hinchcliffe’s winning time of 10.18, but it was that all-important second place which sent Azu into delighted celebrations beyond the finish line.

Speaking after the final with the silver medal proudly around his neck, a thrilled Azu, said: “I am delighted to be on that plane to Paris. It is my first race back after a little niggle so I can’t complain. I think maybe the rest has done me good. 

Azu, who is based in Italy under coach Marco Airale, added: “Now I have 4 or 5 weeks to get some more sharpness back. I will go back to my training camp in Italy, get my head down, away from distractions and prepare for Paris. 

“I have one race left at the London Diamond League which will be exciting - hopefully they’ll give me a nice middle lane in front of the British crowds.

“Italy has really worked well for me; it is sad being away from the family but sometimes you have to take the hit and it is paying off for me.”

Azu had earlier booked his place in the final by winning his semi in convincing style, clocking 10.28.

Silver was certainly the colour as far as the Welsh contingent was concerned with two more second-place medals claimed on the first day of the championships

The first field event of the two-day championships saw new javelin Welsh record holder Freya Jones (Newham and Essex Beagles) finish runner-up to Bekah Walton.

Jones produced a best throw of 51.97m in the second round, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome Walton, who took gold with 54.11m

Hollie Arnold (Blackheath and Bromley), who recently won F46 javelin gold at the World Para Athletics Championships threw a best of 38.24m in the fifth round.

There was more throws success in the men’s shot put. Patrick Swan (Cornwall AC), who last year won a bronze medal, traded up to a silver medal this year, with an excellent performance in the circle.

In the second round, Swan, who recently won the Welsh title in Cardiff, launched the shot out to 17.83m to ensure his place on the podium behind Scott Lincoln, who produced a massive effort of 20.81 to take gold.

In the men’s discus James Tomlinson (Birchfield Harriers) came agonisingly close to claiming a bronze medal in an event stacked with Welsh athletes.

The former Pembrokeshire Harrier produced a season’s best 56.44m in the final round, but it was just one centimetre short of Nick Wedderman’s 56.45 PB, which he threw in the second round.

World Para Athletics bronze medallist Harrison Walsh (DSW Para Academy) claimed fifth place overall, but gold in in the para discus with 54.82m while Olympian and former multiple British champion Brett Morse (Cardiff Athletics) was seventh with 50.59.  

F38 world record holder Michael Jenkins (Pembrokeshire Harriers) threw a third round best of 47.57m.

Paris Paralympics hopeful James Ledger (DSW Para Athletics) enjoyed a successful day with two excellent performances.

The T11 sprinter and his guide Greg Kelly booked their place in the ambulant 100m final by registering a time of 11.87 in their semi. In the final, Ledger finished fourth in 11.97.

The 1500m heats saw Paris Olympics hopeful Melissa Courtney-Bryant book her place in Sunday’s final as she finished second in her heat to reigning British Champion Katie Snowden. Courtney-Bryant, who has the qualifying time for Paris, crossed the line on Snowden’s shoulder in 4:13.52.

Angharad Davies (Carmarthen Harriers) finished seventh in her heat in 4:21.03. The heat was won by British middle-distance star Laura Muir.

There were three Welsh competitors in the highly competitive men’s 1500m heats. Piers Copeland (Pontypridd Roadents) also booked his place in Sunday’s 1500 finals.

The British indoor 1500m champion timed his finish perfectly to claim fourth in 3:41.41 and earn a qualifying spot. In the same heat Ben Reynolds (Cardiff Athletics) finished 10th in 3:45.90.

Oliver Barbaresi (Thames Valley Harriers) earned a new PB in heat 3 as he finished seventh in 3:43.88. Heat one saw new Welsh 800m champion Justin Davies (Team Bath) finish sixth in 3:45.49.

There was a strong Welsh presence in a rain-soaked women’s 5,000m metre final where Commonwealth Games athlete Jenny Nesbitt (Pontypridd Roadents) finished eighth in a season’s best 15:26.09.

Fresh from winning a half-marathon team gold for Great Britain at the European Athletics Championships, Clara Evans (Pontypridd Roadents), crossed the line in 12th and a new PB of 15:36.26. Cari Hughes (Swansea Harriers), who has recorded PBs across a range of distances this season, was 15th in 15:47.83.

There was some Welsh-related success in the race as Swansea Harrier Verity Ockenden was pipped on the line by Hannah Nuttall, to claim silver in 15:13.78.

The first Welsh athlete to take to the track on Saturday was Sophie Lisk (Cardiff Archers), who went in heat two of the women’s 400m hurdles.

The Welsh Athletics National Development Programme (NDP) athlete made it an excellent start to the day as she clocked a new personal best of 1:01.81 in finishing fourth, although it wasn’t quite enough to see her progress.

In the women’s 100m first round, Katie Chapman (Cardiff Athletics) finished eighth in her heat in 12.31.

The first round of the men’s 100m saw GB international Sam Gordon (Cardiff Athletics) cruise through to the next round as he finished second in his heat in a season’s best 10.47.

17-year-old prospects Joe Berry (Newport Harriers) and Lewis Stephens (Cardiff Athletics), both NDP athletes narrowly missed out on progressing beyond the first round of the 100m.

Berry finished fifth in his heat, just outside the qualification places in 10.64, while Stephens finished sixth in his heat in 10.74, as the teenagers gained valuable championship experience.

In the semi-finals, Gordon just missed out on a place in the final as he finished fifth in 10.61.

In the men’s 800m David Locke (Cardiff Athletics) found himself in what the stadium announcer described as the heat of death alongside the likes of world 1500m champion Josh Kerr and world 800m bronze medallist Ben Pattison.

However, Locke made the earlier running in the quality field and led at the bell. Unfortunately, he was unable to keep up the early place and eventually finished eighth in 1:50.44.

In the women’s 800m Rachel McClay-Thomas (Bracknell AC) finished sixth in her heat, clocking 2:08.00.

In the men’s 400m, Joe Brier (Swansea Harriers) narrowly missed out on qualification for the final despite finishing second in his heat in 46.72.

The women’s 400m heats saw four Welsh athletes taking part, however none were able to progress. Hannah Brier (Swansea Harriers) finished fourth in her heat in 53.08, with Ffion Mair Roberts (Menai Track and Field) seventh in 55.93.

Tess McHugh (Sale Harriers), was also fourth in her heat in 53.29, while Sian Harry (Belgrave Harriers) was sixth in heat four, clocking 54.56.

The championships continue on Sunday.

Schedule and startlists.