Women’s steeplechase, 24 August 2019, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
The women’s steeplechase is a relatively new event to global athletics. The event is actually one of the most iconic events in the sport and it is challenging to the final step. Stuart Weir wrote about the happy finish to this Championship event. This is his 4th piece for Day 1 of the British Trials.
If there was a race with a happier ending in any event at the Muller British Championships than the women’s 3000 steeplechase, I must have missed it – probably having one of the sponsor’s free yoghurts which are plentiful in the media work room. Recommendation to all meet directors: sponsors must be food or drink companies!
The final sprint in the steeplechase! photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Rosie Clarke won in 9:46.66 with Elizabeth Bird second in 9:46.95 with Bird almost catching Clarke in the final 50 metres. The pair had run in the Birmingham Diamond League last week with Bird getting the better of Clarke on that occasion. Incidentally this is the third, weekend in a row that I have watched Clarke who also came third in the European Athletics Team Championships Super League.
Clarke and Bird battle to the finish, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
The athletes’ joy was that they had both confirmed their place in Doha by finishing in the top two, having already secured the qualifying time. Clarke said afterwards: “I was looking forward to a championship race and that’s exactly what we got, it went down to the wire and Lizzie was great competition for me. Last year, I pretty much ran round on my own and having that group today helped.
Bird and Clarke embrace, steeplechase, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
“Last weekend I had an absolute shocker on this track at the Diamond League which was a confidence knock but training has been going really well. I can’t fault anything other than last weekend. I had to give myself a kick up the backside and get on with it. Today was what mattered and the world championships are the next stop”.
Bird commented: “The first five or six laps stuck exactly to my race plan, just to sit on Rosie and Aimee [Pratt who was third]. Rosie really made a move on the penultimate water jump and I tried to go with her but I think my change of pace wasn’t quite there. I closed the gap a bit, but then she finished really strong. I guess it’s on to Doha now! I ran the time quite a while ago so I’ve just been holding my breath and not believing that I’m actually going to go. It’s still not sunk in yet but I’ll be there in 5 weeks!”
Twenty-four year old Bird revealed last week that she had run in the Birmingham Diamond League as a 17 year-old but that it had taken seven years to a second chance and now she is off to the World Champs.
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