We live in trying times. Whether in North America, or across the pond, our daily lives are overcome, on all media platforms by “alternative facts”, “fake news”, or something else defying creduility. Athletics blogging is comfort food for athletics fans.
I met Stuart Weir, a thoughtful and humorous Scottish writer a few years ago at one of the British and Scottish meets I attend. This is Stuart’s first column for 2017. He will be providing us his observances at nearly two dozen events this year.
I look forward to catching up with my friend soon.
The British Athletics Indoor team trials took place at the weekend. It was the 61st running (and jumping and throwing) of the championship, which has been held in the EIS in Sheffield since 2004. Another indication of time passing was seeing Finlay Bigg running in the 800 metres, 30 years after his mum, 1992 Olympic 400H gold medallist, Sally Gunnell, won an indoor medal. And talking of mothers, Eilish McColgan – daughter of Liz who took gold in the 10,000 at the 1991 World Championships, won the 3000 metres.
Stand-out performances included Andrew Pozzi winning the 60m hurdles crown, having equalled the world lead and broken the stadium record earlier in the day with 7.44. Tom Bosworth, who finished sixth in the Rio Olympics, set a new national record in winning the men’s 5,000 metres race walk. Afterwards, Bosworth said: “I can only imagine what it will be like on the Mall in London (for the IAAF World Championships) this summer; I cannot wait. I am in a really good position – that was a world lead today by some way but I knew I was capable of it”.
Asha Philip secured her fourth British Indoor title with a silky smooth run in the women’s 60m, pulling well clear of her opposition to record a 7.19 time.
Oddest – and saddest – moment of the weekend was the case of Ronnie Wells in the 60 metres. Ronnie false started in the heat, appealed and was reinstated but with a conduct warning. He was to re-run on his own, needing to run 6.90 to qualify as one of the fastest 18 to make the semis. The gun sounded twice and athlete took off his vest in frustration. He was given a second conduct warning and was disqualified. And on the subject of disqualifications, three of the nine men and two of the thirteen women in the two race walks suffered that fate.
The big question for RunbBlogRun’s correspondent was why are there Americans running in the British Championship? Well rather than speculating, the columnist who leaves no stone unturned, decided to ask them.
Urina Harrell, originally from Los Angeles, is based up in Loughborough while completing a Master’s degree. The 23 year old was competing in the shot coming fourth. She said afterwards: “I’m a heptathlete normally, so it’s nice to make a change and compete in a single discipline; it’s a nice way to break up the normal routine”.
Montez Blair, a former Cornell graduate, who is now studying for a Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Finance in London came fourth in the high jump, despite waking up with a stiff neck this morning.
Visiting Americans are always welcome in the UK.