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Welsh Athletics Indoor International - Event Report

Wales 4 x 200m WAI 2019.jpg

04/03/2019 00:00, In Track & Field /

Wales' Under-17 and Under-20 athletes saved the best until last in their international match against England at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff on Sunday, writes Owen Morgan.

A strong and experienced England team had dominated proceedings for much of the afternoon as they set a number of individual and meeting records in the process. But the young Welsh team finished strongly to claim three event wins as the meeting drew to a close.

The Welsh revival was sparked by Cardiff Athletics' Jeremiah Azu (Helen James), who stormed to victory in a new meeting record of 6.75 ahead of England's Alwayne Campbell in the 60m.Azu has enjoyed a spectacular indoor season, winning a senior bronze at the British Senior Indoor Championships, claiming the sprint double at the English Age Group Championships in Sheffield and setting a personal best of 6.65 at the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham.

Speaking after his latest success, the 17-year-old said: "I'm very happy, I knew the championship record was within reach, so I was trying to get that today."

Having waited for a Welsh win in the international match, another came along a few minutes later thanks to Remi Adebiyi (Newport; Darryn McAtee) in the men's 800m. The Newport athlete ran a perfectly judged race, biding his time early on before taking the lead in the latter stages and producing a devastating kick for the line to win in a big personal best of 1:55.41. Fellow Welsh athlete Benjamin Reynolds (Cardiff; Arwyn Davies) who had led in the early stages, finished second in a time of 1:56.50 to register a Welsh one-two.

Adebiyi said afterwards: "It was amazing, I achieved a two second PB. I never normally do 800s. Last week I did a 1500 in Sheffield, so this was a good speed workout for me. I normally let someone else take it out and then I back my speed at the end."

The Welsh team registered their third match win of the day in the final race of the event, the men's 4x200m relay. Swansea Harrier Steffan Dylan Jones (Swansea; Darrell Maynard) sent the Welsh team on their way with a fine first leg which was taken on by Menai's Zachary Price (Barry Edwards) who ensured he handed over to Jeremiah Azuwith the Welsh team in the lead.

The 60m individual winner showed his raw speed to open up a gap to hand over to Aaron Jolly (Cardiff; Mark Gold) on the final leg. With the home crowd cheering him on, Jolly brilliantly held his nerve and form to bring Wales home ahead of the English team in a time of  1:28.96. Jolly said of his final leg: "We had a bit of a gap so it wasn't too bad, but I had to go as fast as I could and hope it worked out, and it did."

A packed day of high quality athletics started with the men's and women's shot put competition which saw England's Lewis Byng claim victory with the final throw of the men's competition, also claiming a meeting record of 17.61m.

England's Serena Vincent won the women's title with a meeting record-equalling throw of 14:68. Sarah Omoregie claimed second place for Wales with a throw of 14.54. The early English successes set the tone for much of the afternoon as they proceeded to take maximum points in a number of events, including the men's long jump where Dominic Ogbechie produced another meeting record of 7.66m.

Amy Hunt was another English athlete who claimed a meeting record of 7:37 in the 60m, as the international match ended in an overall win for the visitors by 145 points to 70, despite some excellent individual performances by the young Welsh team.

As well as the Wales versus England clash there were a number of other races including the Welsh 3,000m Championships, which saw an impressive display of front running from Abed Teweldebrhan. The Newport Harrier took the title in a time of 8:35.74 ahead of Aberdare duo Daniel Bodman (9:02.24) and Matthew Evans (9:35.62).

The meeting also saw an attempt on the British Masters M40 mile record by former Wales and Great Britain middle distance star James Thie. Taking a short break from his duties in the event's commentary box, Thie took to the front right from the gun, virtually running alone for the entire race. The Cardiff Metropolitan University Director of Athletic Performance and coach of his successful training group, stopped the clock in 4:25.45, just outside Ian Gillespie's record set in 2013.

Before heading back to his commentary position, Thie said: "It's bittersweet, I'd set my hopes on the British Masters 40 record which is 4.23.1. I thought it was well within my capability but I thought I'd make it hard for myself because I wanted to do it solo, front running. "I coach 30 or 40 runners who could have all paced me, but I wanted it to be a true run record. So I'm disappointed, but also pleased I got so close."

The large crowd also enjoyed the opportunity of seeing Paralympic and World Champion Jonnie Peacock competing in one of the afternoon's guest races where he finished 5th in the men's 60ms. There were also four age group 4x200m relay events, which provided excellent entertainment for the enthusiastic crowd.

Full results from Sunday's Welsh Athletics International can be found here