Weekend, 25-26 February 2017
The national indoor championships at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport saw junior Blue Vests appear on the track again. These are the biggest indoor championships of the year and the elite of British Athletics take part.
Julia Winogrodzka moved up an age-group from her usual U13 to compete as an U15 in the long jump, having easily reached the qualifying standard set. Not to be overawed she leapt 5.13m – only 8cm outside her PB. It saw her finish eighth – a fantastic result against girls up to two years her senior.
Personal Bests were also came thick and fast in the 60m. Ben To, competing in his first Nationals having set a new club record at the Northern championships, didn’t disappoint. He lowered his PB at each stage of the competition, clocking 7.52s in the heats, 7.42s in the semi-final and 7.41s in the final – all were new club records. He finished a brilliant seventh overall and will look forward to setting new milestones in the summer.
Eniola Adedotun was also in fine form – another U15 Bolton debutant, he continued to make massive improvements by running 7.67 seconds in his heat to register a huge PB. His semi-final performance saw him finish eighth in 7.74 seconds.
Taiwo Taiwo (U17) was hoping to break 8 seconds for the first time. In her heat, she came third in a new PB of 7.89s and bettered it with 7.86s in her semi-final, only to finish an agonising fourth and just miss out on a place in the final.
Hannah Kelly lined up in the 60m having won gold at the Northerns and with high hopes of pushing for a medal. However, she knew the competition would be tough with all of the elite sprinters in attendance. She opened up in the heat, finishing second, although easing down in yet another PB of 7.69. Lining up in the SF against last year’s national 100m winner, Amy Hunt, she exploded from the start. Both were matched equally for the first 40m before Amy pulled away; Hannah clocked yet another PB in 7.63s but the winner’s 7.50s set a new championship record. Unfortunately, the final didn’t go as smoothly as planned. After an issue with her blocks, Hannah struggled to get away at the start and, although running 7.72s, she finished sixth. Most athletes would be ecstatic with this placing in a national championships, but for Hannah, it was below where she wanted to finish.
Both Hannah and Taiwo returned to Sheffield on the Sunday to compete in the U17’s 200m. Taiwo ran strongly in her heat, with 25.58s to qualify for the SF, whereupon 25.49s was registered – just outside her outdoor PB. She ran much quicker than at the Northern championships and it gives an indication that close to 25.0 seconds in the summer is an achievable aim.
Hannah lined up in her favoured 200m in heat 5 against the current UK number 1, Ella Wansell. She breezed past her and, with 30m to go, eased down to finish at a jog in 25.28 seconds. In her semi-final, she was in lane 4 with the current 300m national champion and fellow England international Amber Anning in the lane outside. Once again, Hannah’s start was perfect and by 100m she was ahead. Coming off the last bend she still had a lead but the strength of the 300m athlete showed and Hannah was pipped on the line by 0.03 seconds. However, Hannah clocked a huge new PB and new club record of 24.50s to rank her as the country’s number 2, behind Amber. Unfortunately that was where the day ended – Hannah felt a problem in her lower back and, rather than risk further injury, decided to withdraw from the final. This showed her growing maturity and race knowledge. The final was won in 24.72 seconds, which Hannah could easily have bettered.
Les Hall, who coaches all of the athletes that competed this weekend, couldn’t have been prouder. “Hannah is now moving away from being an amazing national athlete to something more. The qualifying standard for this year’s Youth Commonwealth Games is 24.3 seconds, and it is well within her capabilities.”
All of Les’s sprinters are now looking forward to getting back to some hard training and are hoping to set more PBs in the summer.