The first column of day 2, by Stuart Weir, is on the distance events. Most of the events were held on Day 2. We thank Stuart Weir for his ability to help us appreciate a different approach to selecting teams for global events.
There was some amazing distance running on day 2 of the MÃ¼ller British Athletics Championships. The pick of the races was the men’s 1500. Charlie da’Vall Grice was probably the favorite, having shown great form at a range of distances this year. However, in a slow tactical race, Grice had to settle for fourth place in 3:48.83. Winner was Neil Gourley (3.48.36) from Josh Kerr (3:48.51) with Jake Wightman third in 3:48.69.
That is where the GB selection policy causes a headache. Gourley and Kerr have the Doha qualifying time and are automatic selections. Who gets the third place? Under the U.S. system, it would be simple – Wightman because he finished ahead of Grice, albeit only by 0.14 seconds. But with the British discretionary policy can you ignore that Grice’s PR of 3:30.62 – achieved this year – is 3 seconds faster than Wightman’s? Not that anyone would admit it, life would have been much simpler had Charlie da’Vall Grice come in the first two places!
The women’s 1500m was more straightforward with Sarah McDonald winning from Jemma Reekie, both of them have the qualifying time. The third place will go to the currently injured, Laura Muir. The selection was made a lot more straightforward by the decision of Laura Weightman and Eilish McColgan – both of whom have the Doha qualifying standard at 1500 -, just to run the 5000m.
The 5000m saw a magnificent piece of front running by Eilish McColgan who won by 14 seconds – having established and held that lead from early in the race. Jess Judd was second and Laura Weightman third. Judd is an automatic selection and no one has a stronger case than Laura Weightman for the discretionary place.
The women’s 800m was another compelling race – slow and tactical – with Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, one of this column’s favourite athletes, just holding off Lynsey Sharp who seems to be benefiting from a change of coach and location, now back in UK. Alexandra Bell was third and as she has the qualifying standard, that seems an obvious selection.
The men’s 800m was another very competitive race but without a clear outcome. The surprise winner was Spencer Thomas from Guy Learmonth – both given the time of 1:46.79. However, neither of them has the qualifying time – Learmonth has run it but not in the qualifying period but, Thomas’s PR is a second outside it. On the other hand Jamie Webb [third) and Eliot Giles (fourth) have the qualifying time – sort that one out!
Andy Butchart won the men’s 5000m on day one to secure his place.
To sum up, some excellent races but still quite a lot of work for the selectors to do to disentangle it all and for athletes who finished in the top two, but who do not have the qualifying standard, a week to get it!