We missed this one! On June 25-27, the British Olympic Trials were held, and Alex Mill was there for RunBlogRun. Somehow in the week, we forgot to post Alex and then, Stuart Weir (his columns are coming), on the selection of the GBR team for the 2016 Olympics!
Here you go!
Sunday’s Olympic qualifiers
Women’s Discus Final
British Champion: Jade Lally – 59.15m 1st time
After years of injury issues and illness, Lally made her Olympic dream a reality in Birmingham by comfortably winning her 5th British title. The Commonwealth bronze medallist secured her two qualifying standards during a brilliant two days in Australia this February, where she smashed her personal best by four and half metres to go second on the British all-time list, and has continued her great form ever since. Having been left devastated with a narrow non-selection in 2012, they will be no such disappointment this time round.
Post-event quote: “I didn’t do very well today so it almost feels like haven’t really fully earned it. I’ve had a good season so I have earned it, I just would have liked to have topped it off with a 60-61 metre throw but it can’t be done and the job today was just to finish top two and I’ve done that. At least now I’m part of the automatic team for Rio, I’ve never had that ever before. I’ve taken it out of the selectors hands so we can now do everything according to what me and my coach want to do rather than playing the waiting game.”
Women’s 400m Hurdles Final
British Champion: Eilidh Doyle – 54.93
Arguably Britain’s most consistent athlete in 2016, Doyle confirmed what always a near certainty, cruising away from her inexperienced rivals to have the race wrapped up by 200m. Despite this, she still managed to claim a sub-55 second run in the process. She now heads to Rio with a very serious chance of medalling.
Post-race quote: “I never take anything for granted because you’ve still got to go out and execute the race. I had to remain focused but I’m happy to put on a show this afternoon. It’s great to confirm qualification to 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 so I will be fighting for one. Until you have cemented that spot on the team, you can’t properly focus on it but now we can go away knowing I’ve secured my spot.”
Men’s 400m Hurdles Final
Second place: Jack Green – 49.49
It’s been a tough four years for Green since becoming one of Britain’s most popular Olympians at London 2012. After his injury issues and mental health problems the talented hurdler secured his place in Rio by finishing runner-up behind Sebastian Rodger. Last time out at the games he made the semi-finals, at least the same will be expected in Brazil. He runs a great 400m leg too.
Post-event quote: “Obviously in the long run, people know about my mental health problems. So I had a lot of time out and last year I was injured for the whole season. I have been self-coached all this year and train on my own so it’s been quite a tough journey. I haven’t lost a race this year until now, and it wasn’t one of my fastest times but I came here with a job to do.
The fact I am going to Rio is a big thing, I’d like to go in there and achieve more than I did last time round and obviously I am ambitious as an athlete. I am very grateful for this opportunity, I never used to be but I am now. The 400m hurdles are open on a world level, I am just grateful to be going.”
Men’s Pole Vault Final
British Champion: Luke Cutts 5.40m 1st time
Having spent a big part of his career battling it out with Steve Lewis, today was Cutts time to shine. While he wasn’t on top form today, Clutts was rewarded for his strong indoor form with a place on his first Olympic team.
Post-event quote: “Today was about securing my spot on the plane to Rio. I’m over the moon to get the result because it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. I’m feeling in good shape but as I have been saying to the British Athletics staff, I just need to have some good conditions to jump in. I’m ready to jump big but I just need good conditions.”
Women’s 200m Final
British Champion: Dina Asher-Smith – 23.11 1st time
From a kit carrier in 2012, to a huge medal contender in 2016, Dina Asher-Smith has made quite some transition. Though she wan’t quite on top form in the final, Asher-Smith still managed to hold off lifelong rival Henry in the closing stages. Her easy 22.97 in the heats shows just what she’s capable of.
Post-race quote: “I am really happy, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. I can’t believe it. It’s a weird feeling because it doesn’t become about the race or about winning because it is so much more than that. This is Olympic trials, this is the event you need to qualify from. It was emotional and I was nervous because it meant so much. I am honestly so happy to have booked my seat on the plane to Rio.”
Silver medallist: Desiree Henry – 23.13 1st time
After the agony of a third place finish in the 100m, Henry responded like a true champion to confirm herself an individual spot in Rio. Coming round the bend, it looked like second was all that she was capable off, yet she closed far better than Asher-Smith and was unlucky not to beat her rival. The 20 year-old has improved so much in 2016 and now looks like a top senior athlete.
Post-race quote: “It feels so good, yesterday was such an emotional today, I felt I wasn’t able to execute in the final considering my heats were so good. It was so hard even just waking up and going for the 200m today but I’m so glad I did having now secured my selection for Rio.
My coach was telling me how good I looked in the 200m and I felt pretty good so I just thought to myself, as long as I execute each race and not get ahead of myself, the times and position will come. Today I secured a spot. I am so proud I was able to shake it off and still get the job done and make the Olympic team.”
Men’s 400m Final
British Champion: Matthew Hudson-Smith – 44.88 SB 1st time
Hudson-Smith was awarded performance of the day and it was certainly well deserved. After an awful 2015 in which he was struck down with three stress fractures in his back, the 2014 sensation has had a great return to action. Producing the second fastest performance of his career, 21-year-old went out like a rocket and pulled away from his rivals by 200m. While many expected him to fade he just kept going increase the gap from his rivals as strode to a brilliant victory. He could be one of Team GB’s stars of the games.
Post-race quote: “It feels actually amazing, I can’t put it into words. To know I am now going to Rio is just indescribable. It was a really strong field and we have some fantastic athletes which is great for our relay team. I knew what I was up against but I just wanted to go out there and execute my race. I’ve been watching this race since I was 12 so to become British Champion is crazy.”
Silver medallist: Rabah Yousif Bkheit – 45.52 SB
The defending British champion has been struggling for form in 2016, but he made it count when it really mattered, benefiting from a strong third 100m to create a sizeable enough gap between himself and Martyn Rooney. One of the biggest characters in the squad, his story really is quite something. The Sudanese born asylum seeker will now go to his second Olympics and first for GB.
Post-race quote: “I’m happy because I booked my ticket but I’m not happy with the performance. I’m in much better shape than that. For some reason I’m not executing my race the way I’m supposed to. I’ve been running some crazy times in training. I came here in 70-80% shape but I am just recovering from over competing. I’ve got to step back, go to the drawing board basically do what I have to do in terms of getting my body right to put in the big performances.”
Women’s 400m Final
British Champion: Emily Diamond – 51.94
A reserve for the relay squad in 2012, Diamond will now definitely get her chance to run in Rio after taking her first British title, to continue what has been the best season of her career. Though her rivals went our harder, Diamond timed her race to perfection and overhauled Seren Bundy-Davies in the final 50m.
Post race quote: “It’s just relief, I think it’s the first time that I’ve come in to the Championships ranked number one. To win was just a massive bonus, and to firmly secure my seat at Rio is an absolute dream come true. It was such a strong field, I came in thinking I should have the most confidence I’ve ever had because I’ve PB’d numerous times this season and I’ve had a whole winter without any injuries. I came into the competition confident, knowing exactly what I needed to do.
Coming down the home straight I thought I would be closer to the girls. To be able to celebrate on the line, I had so many emotions running through me. I’ve just missed out on qualifications in the past, so to be involved in the individual team and to go into the Olympics as British Champion, I can’t quite believe it..”
Silver medallist: Seren Bundy-Davies – 52.38 first-time
Still only 21, Bundy-Davies has made huge strides over the last two years and after being denied a place in the 400m at the world championships last year, she will finally get her chance to shine on a senior stage in Rio. Though she may feel she should have won here, there can be no regrets for the soon-to-be Olympian.
Post-race quote: “I can’t really believe it, I was dying down that last 50 metres but I think you always are in a 400m. I could sense Emily (Diamond) was alongside me coming into the home straight so I just had to go with it and try and hold on. The aim today was to win but ultimately, I needed to get in that top two. I can’t be unhappy after securing a place in Rio – which will be my first major international competition outdoors.”
Women’s 5000m Final
British Champion: Steph Twell – 15:53.35
Eight years on from reaching the Olympics as a bright young 19 year-old will return to the mecca of athletics this summer. Capping off two brilliant years of resurgence for the teenage prodigy. Similarly to Andy Butchart in the men’s race the previous day, Twell bided her time by settling into the 12 women pack for the majority of the slow paced race, before breaking away and making the most of her speed. Crossing the line as a clear winner, Twell lifted her arms in the air in adulation.
Post-race quote: “It’s fantastic, what a relief. I’ve been on a long journey to get to Rio but it has been worth it. I’ve been through and lot but I’m enjoying racing and to win the British title today is great. The race was very tense as there were three of us going for those top two spots. There is no greater motivator than aiming to qualify for an Olympic Games. I’ve worked so hard on my range, from 800m up to 5000m to be ready in case the race is very bunched and it shows I have the strength and power when I need it in the race.”
Silver medallist: Eilish McColgan – 15:54.75
A steeplechase convertee forced to turn to the flat races following injury problems, McColgan, has excelled in her debut season in the 5,000m. She knew that finishing in the top-two would ensure her place at a second Olympic Games and that’s just what she did. In Birmingham, the Scot showed her new found strength to create a sizeable gap between herself and Laura Whittle after Twell had began to get away from them in the closing stages. Rather than let the gap get any bigger, she used her long loping stride to claim second.
Post-race Quote: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, my main aim this year was to get myself back running again after having the whole of 2015 out. To actually run the qualifying time initially was amazing, but to now have secured my place (in Rio) is amazing. It’s not very often you come second in a race and you’re pretty happy with it. So honestly I’m over the moon with today. It’s just so nice to be back racing again and be fitter and healthier than ever and ready to make my second Olympics.
Come Rio I am confident of knocking a couple of seconds off my time. I am confident it is heading upwards and in the right direction. I have made a big change in four weeks, even now I think I’m in better shape than my PB which was from April/May. I am really happy with it.”
Men’s High Jump Final
British Champion: Robbie Grabarz – 2.26m
The Olympic bronze medallist and world indoor silver medallist will now attempt to match or even better his performance from London when he heads to Rio in August. After a consistent season, Grabaz came into the competition knowing he only had to finish in the top two to make it to Rio, which he did with ease.
Though he was not on top form today, given the inconsistent nature of the event on a world stage, he must fancy his chances of gaining more silverware.
Post-event quote: “It’s a good day but I’ve had better ones. I didn’t jump very well today but I made the team (for Rio) and won the British Championships. I achieved what I needed to and made the team which is the most important thing.”
Silver medallist: Chris Baker – 2.26m
Baker burst onto the scene this winter when he flew over 2.36m indoors, to become one of the top British jumpers in history. Outdoors he is yet to hit the same heights, nevertheless, knowing he had the two qualifying standards in the bag, the quirkily dressed Scotsman produced a flawless first four jumps to claim a top two spot and book his ticket to Rio.
Post-event quote: “Top two, job done. Robbie’s (Grabarz) a great man that always turns up on the day. It was tough conditions today, the wind was making us all struggle. It’s a big sigh of relief because I’ve had a very nervy week. Watching the footage yesterday I was so excited to come here and compete. It’s such a big day for me, it is a dream come true. Now I can enjoy it, the weight has been lifted, and hopefully the heights will come.”
Women’s 1500m Final
British Champion: Laura Muir – 4:10.14
5th at the worlds last year, after safely making it to her first Olympics, 2016 is Laura Muir’s time to shine. The Scottish star was just too good for rivals today as she turned on the gas with 400m and didn’t look back. Though she wasn’t racing in anything like top gear, the middle distance phenomena’s composure and ability to react bode very well for the sterner tests ahead.
Post-race quote: “It feels great – I just wanted to tick that box and seal my place on the team for Rio. I’ve retained my title at the same time so I am delighted. It was quite windy so I knew if I was going to win that I was going to have to make a break for it. It slowly wound up and managed to break up the field.
I’m in the best shape I can be – I’m running PBs in sessions and close to my track PBs during track sessions so I’m running well.”
Silver medallist: Laura Weightman – 4:11.76
A lot has happened since Laura Weightman ran in the final of the 1500m at the 2012 Olympics, both in terms of the credibility of her rivals and her own ability. While she still seems some way off the high standards she set in 2014, the Morpeth Harrier showed true grit to claim her place on the plane to Rio. In one of the tightest finishes of the day, Weightman edged out Charlene Thomas in an epic sprint for the line. Knowing only a top two finish would secure her spot on the team, she dug in to overhaul her rival just as it looked like she might lose out.
Post-race quote: “I’m delighted to come here and get my place on the plane to Rio. The job is done and I’m excited about what might happen over the rest of the summer. I have more work to do before I head towards the Games. There were extra nerves today because a place at the Olympics was up for grabs but it’s great to know it is done.”
Men’s 1500m Final
British Champion: Charlie Grice – 3:43.41 First time
When it comes to British 1500m running Charlie Grice continues to reign supreme, securing his third title this weekend, as well as his place in the Olympics. Though his yet to convert that form into a major championship medal, the 2015 world championship finalist looks stronger than ever and is closing increasingly well.
As with every British Championship 1500m I can remember, the race went out slow and was left to a big sprint finish to decide the outcome. Locked in a three-way battle with Chris O’hare and Jake Wightman with 100m to go, Grice just had enough to pull away from his rivals and claim gold.
Pre-race quote: “It was pretty nerve-wracking today so I’m really happy to come away with the win. It was quite a slow race but I believed in my kick as I’ve come in well prepared. I had to stay relaxed and trust myself – it didn’t really get going until 200m to go. I knew it was there but it was about letting it all out and guaranteeing my spot on the team to the Olympics. I’m very thankful that things have come together today.
I’ve dreamt about racing in Rio and it’s what it is all about. I will be racing the best athletes in the world, that’s where I want to be.”
Silver medallist: Chris O’Hare – 3:43.68 First time
Another of Scotland’s brilliant middle distance talents, Chris O’hare got his just reward for being one of the world’s most consistent middle distance athletes by qualifying for his first Olympics. The American-based runner may not have beaten his long-time rival Grice, but he too showed enough decent closing speed to make it onto the plane, as he edged out Wightman by just .2 of a second.
Post-race quote: “It was nerve-wracking last 24 hours after the heats because you get a feel of where everyone else is at and the confidence levels go up and down. I’m glad I was able to get it done, it would have been nice to win but my coach said to me before the race, just make sure you are top two and then you can do whatever you can to win the race. So I didn’t want to make any daft moves that might compromise getting top two. When I came round the bend I knew there would be a lot of commotion, I didn’t want to get tripped up. I ended up at the front and didn’t push it, I should have pushed it. I knew I could close well and finish in that top two, it was all about staying calm.
It hasn’t been the smoothest transition from indoors to outdoors, I had to take three weeks off after indoors to deal with a hamstring issue and it has been touch and go since then. Now it is time for the heavy work to be ready for Rio.”
Women’s Long Jump Final
British Champion: Jazmin Sawyers – 6.75m PB
There were few smiles bigger than Jazmin Sawyers’ this weekend as she achieved a childhood dream and made her first Olympic squad. Famous for performing when under pressure, the Commonwealth silver medallist produced a magnificent lifetime best to reach Rio. Coming into the championships still needing a second standard to allow for automatic qualification, with two rounds to go it looked as though she would miss out, only for the 22 year-old to fly out to a 5cm PB of 6.75m, that would be enough for both the title and qualification. Though a medal may be beyond her Rio, she is a great shout to make the final.
Post-event quote: “I’m chuffed to bits, I can’t believe it. I feel as though I have had a series of jumps in the last few competitions which were almost there so I’m very happy to do it today. I’ve had a series of consistent jumps this season in the 6.60s so I knew it was there. I can’t believe I have confirmed my place on the plane to Rio, I’m so happy. It is a big moment for me but it is just the start of my Olympic campaign.”
Silver medallist: Shara Proctor – 6.65m
The world silver medallist has had a tough time of it so far in 2016, but she looked to be returning to some sort of good form, as she got to within 1cm of her season’s best in Birmingham. Doing all that she had to do to qualify, Proctor’s place on the plane was never really at threat. She now has just over a month to sharpen up.
Post-event quote: “Although I didn’t win, I felt like myself – I’ve had a couple of rough weeks but I feel like I’m getting my confidence back. I need to train harder and make sure I am in the best shape for Rio.
Jazmin (Sawyers) stepped up and I’m really happy for her to get the chance to represent Great Britain at the Olympics this summer.”
Men’s 200m Final
British Champion: Adam Gemili – 20.44
One of the poster boys for London 2012, Gemili will now be hoping to make the Olympic final that he so agonisingly missed out on four years ago. Coming into the outdoor season still rusty following his injury in 2015, Gemili took his time to set his mark this summer, meaning her came into the championships needing both a time and a qualification standard. Yet this is an athlete who always responds under pressure, so as the gun went there was no surprise to see him roaring round the curve in the lead. Giving it everything as he pumped his arms as high as he possibly could, Gemili did just enough for the win and a trip to Rio.
Post-race quote: “I am over the moon, it is the best feeling in the world. I had to come here and run a time, and finish in the top two to guarantee selection, it is a big relief I’ve done that. There have been a lot of guys running very quick this year. I’m still not where I quite want to be in training so I’ve been using my races as training. I still hopefully have a lot more to show and get it right when it matters.
I think for Rio I want to medal at a major senior Championships 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 was always go into a race looking for the victory. I am going out there to make the final and medal.
Silver medallist: Danny Talbot – 20.46
Cruelly denied a place at London 2012, despite running the qualification standard and winning a European Championship medal, Talbot can have no doubts about his place in Brazil this year. Although Gemili got the stronger start, Talbot stayed in contention on the bend and was gaining on his rival in the closing stages narrowly missing out on victory, but comfortably finishing second.
After a fairly quiet start to the season, he is now just 5 weeks away from the biggest competition of his life.
Post-race quote: “I am so happy, it is difficult to come to the British Championships – it’s a strange situation when the top two qualify. I am equally as happy to come second, the job is done now and it’s time to work towards Rio. I have been really nervous all week, there has been a bit of anxiety and I haven’t been sleeping good. I wasn’t really too sure how it was going to go, my legs didn’t feel too good in the heat.
Women’s 800m Final
British Champion: Shelayna Oskan-Clarke – 2:01.99
Britain’s breakthrough star at the world championships, Oskan-Clarke has made a relatively understated start to 2016, yet when she was required to perform she did. With Lynsey Sharp seemingly looking comfortable in the lead Oskan-Clarke began to battle it out with Alison Leonard for second, proving just too strong for rival and ultimately Sharp too. She will now head to Rio a completely different athlete to the one who entered Beijing 2015 as an unknown novice.
Post-race quote: “I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, I’m in good form so there’s just a lot of fine tuning but I don’t want to overcook it – it’s more about peaking at the right time and being confident in my ability.
Hopefully my Olympic prospects are good ones – I think I perform well when there’s a lot more pressure, again it’s just about me being confident in myself and the training that I’m doing. I think that really makes the difference between performing at the highest levels
Silver medallist: Lynsey Sharp – 2:02.14
One of the steeliest athletes in the game, though she didn’t take the win here, Sharp’s place at a second Olympics never really looked in doubt. As the field went through the first lap in a timid 64 seconds, you sensed it would play in the fast finishing athlete’s favour, and it did. Stretching out her long legs and striding to the front, Sharp held her form and stayed strong to cling on as she was overtaken in the closing stages. A fierce competitor, she has as good a chance as any of making the final in Rio, if not more.
Post-race quote: “It was just about getting top two today, obviously it was always going to be a competitive race with so many girls chasing qualifying. I’m disappointed to have not held on to it in the end, I tightened up in the last ten metres when I knew there were people chasing me down.
I’m pleased that qualification is all done, now it’s about getting some fresh races in before I got up against the best girls in the world. I’m much further ahead than I was at this point last year and feeling in a confident place.”
Men’s 110m Hurdles Final
British Champion: Andrew Pozzi – 13.31 PB
Easily the most in-form athlete in the field, after years of injury issues, the immensely talented Pozzi will finally get another chance to perform at a major championship this summer, and what a stage to do it on. Storming through his semi-final, Pozzi lived up to his favourite tag in the final as he cruised over the hurdles to personal best 13.31 despite -1.3 negative wind.
He now sits equal 6th in the British all-time lists and perfectly placed to break further boundaries this summer.
Post-race quote: “I am absolutely thrilled with that. I knew it was going to be close after the heats. I am over the moon to come back and qualify four years after doing it for London 2012, and that was actually the last outdoor trials I ran in. With a PB and the same lane I did it in four years ago, I love Birmingham. I grew up just down the road in Stratford upon Avon so it’s always good to come back.
It’s the first race of the season where I’ve really had it all together. That’s what you need to do in the final, I knew I had to get out and focus on myself. The body feels great and it is the best it’s felt this season. I’m going to sit down with my coach and decide what is next for us. I’m so happy to get this weekend done, I always look forward to it every year, but it’s good to get it done.
Silver medallist: Lawrence Clarke – 13.44
In 2012, Clarke was a surprise 4th at the Olympics, when very few people had heard of him. What has come since, is four years of relatively good results but nothing of the same standard. Nevertheless he will now head into Rio with another shot at glory.
On Sunday, with Pozzi clearly ahead, Clarke faced a strong challenge for second from upcoming athlete David King, despite looking as though it would go all the way to the line, he had just enough to pull away from his rival over the last two hurdles and clinch the title of double Olympian.
Post-race quote: “My intention was to come in the top two but Andrew (Pozzi) is obviously running very well and ran a PB, so he was expected to win really and I just had to get as close to him as possible. I was coming here trying to win but he’s in great shape.
I am in exceptionally good shape, I didn’t feel like I had a great race today, my coach didn’t really see this as a major race for us because of the shape me and my training partners are in. I’m very much looking forward to the Olympics. I’m very much feeling the momentum towards Rio, this has been an eight year game for me and I’m so relieved. This has been a very tough year and this is arguably the toughest British Championships I’ve raced in. The future of this event is great looking forward.
Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase Final
Silver medallist: Lennie Waite – 9:54.06
Last year Waite was left devastated as British athletics left her off the world championships team despite winning the trials and claiming one qualifying standard. While the whole of social media campaigned for her to be selected, the decision was left negative and Waite at home.
After smashing her lifetime best by running 9:35.91 two weeks ago, Waite came into the championships knowing a top-two finish would mean no-one could stop her this time round. A seemingly easy task in theory was made a lot more difficult by the form of two athletes who had never previously broken 10 minutes for the distance, Rosie Clarke and Louise Webb.
The pair pushed Waite all the way and as they reached the final lap, she was left with two athletes for company. Surely they could not deny her dream becoming a reality too? When Clarke went past her at the final water jump, Waite nervously looked over her shoulder, wondering just how close Webb was. The answer not far enough for her to rest up. Gritting her teeth, Waite began to stride out, comfortably negotiating the final hurdle before bounding towards the line. Though she would not catch Clarke, second was her’s, as was a place at a first Olympics.
Post-race quote: “I can’t really believe it. Obviously I wanted to win, so I’m disappointed but I haven’t run in quite a position with so much to lose, and even though it is a position of privilege, I did feel the weight of the world on my shoulders in the last two laps. I could see that I had two people on my shoulder. Once the worries started, it’s hard to stop them. So I was honestly running to make sure I got myself into Rio.
It makes it so much easier because today I can start training for Rio and that’s a great position to be in, there’s plenty of time to get my training back on track. I had to travel here from Texas and adjust which was difficult, but now I have a lot of time to focus on Rio.”