Jemma Reekie (coach: Jon Bigg; club: Kilbarchan) lit up the Microplus UK Athletics Indoor Championships with a Championship record and the second best time in the world this year on the way to victory in the 800m as more places for next month’s global gathering in Glasgow were secured on a brilliant final day in Birmingham.

Reekie arrived in the Second City in superb form having won the Lievin World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold event eight days ago and she closed these sold-out Championships in style as she roared to an impressive time of 1:58.24 minutes to win a UK indoor title for the first time since 2019.

Elsewhere the similarly in-form Laura Muir (Steve Vernon; Dundee Hawkhill) was the winner of the women’s 3000m, Laviai Nielsen (Tony Lester; Enfield & Haringey) took victory in the 400m and Georgia Bell (Trevor Painter; Belgrave) claimed a brilliant gold in the 1500m. Alongside women’s high jump winner, Morgan Lake (Robbie Grabarz; WSEH), all are targeting Glasgow for the World Indoor Championships.

The day also produced impressive winners in Piers Copeland (Bob Smith; Pontypridd) and Jack Higgins (Mark Hookway; Tonbridge), who both came from behind to win gold in the men’s 1500m and 800m respectively.

Ama Pipi (Linford Christie; Enfield & Haringey) won the women’s 200m title a year after taking the 400m crown while Amelia Campbell (Zane Duquemin; Thames Valley) and Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson; City of York) claimed the women’s and men’s shot put titles and James West (Helen Clitheroe; Tonbridge) and Lee Thompson (John Henson; Sheffield & Dearne) took gold in the men’s 3000m and 400m respectively.

It didn’t win her a medal but there was also a superb indoor shot put personal best for reigning world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Aston Moore; Liverpool) as she threw 13.29m in Birmingham.

On a day full of brilliant performances, Reekie saved the best for last as she powered to the women’s 800m title. She picked her way through the field before turning up the pace over the final lap to clock the Championship record and second best time in the world this year, 1:58.24.

Reekie’s performance helped Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn; Enfield & Haringey) to silver in 2:00.27 while Erin Wallace (Painter; Giffnock North) took bronze in an indoor personal best 2:01.35. Reekie’s performance will give her a huge amount of confidence going into her home World Indoor Championships in Glasgow in less than two weeks.

She said: “It was really about securing my place for Glasgow by taking the win. I wasn’t especially trying to run fast so it just shows what shape I am in. I am so excited for Glasgow. I was happy to get it rolling but I did know the Championship record time as I had a look at it this week.

“I start on every start line to win and I will be doing that in Glasgow especially in front of a home crowd. I really want to get my first senior medal as I have been so close so I will take any medal but, of course, my eyes are on gold.”

Earlier, Muir couldn’t have asked for much better preparation ahead of the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow than what transpired in the women’s 3000m final. Sitting at the back initially, Muir crept up to second behind Amy-Eloise Neale (Wakefield) with seven laps to go.

She hit the front with 400m to go, building an ever-increasing lead over eventual silver medallist Hannah Nuttall (Helen Clitheroe; Charnwood) to clock 8:58.80 and win by over three seconds. Kate Axford (Belgrave) took bronze in a personal best 9:08.03.

Muir said: “I am very excited to have booked my ticket now. I still needed to go through the official qualification process and it is very special for me to be there at the first global champs Scotland has hosted.

“I am very excited to see what I can do in Glasgow and it is a big stepping stone on the road to Paris. I take the pressure as an indicator of my success and try and use it to my advantage. I am very privileged to be in this position.”

Muir will be joined in Glasgow by Nielsen, who edged out her sister Lina (Lester; Shaftesbury Barnet), for gold in straight up battle between the two in the women’s 400m final. Laviai Nielsen surged to the front at the cut in and would not relinquish the lead despite the pressure from Lina.

Laviai Nielsen, who has already run 51.11 seconds this season, clocked 51.54 for gold while Lina Nielsen ran a superb indoor personal best of 51.95 for silver. Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong; WSEH) ran a strong race to win bronze in 52.79.

Laviai Nielsen said: “I was quite nervous coming in as the favourite.  I knew how strong Lina would be. I knew she was running well and would push me all the way.  It is hard to race knowing you are being chased but I knew I needed to take it on hard. This year has been to stick to the plan, and we have done that and achieved exactly what we wanted.”

In the women’s 1500m, Bell ran a smart race as she booked her place at next month’s World Indoor Championships with victory. With 300m to go, Revee Walcott Nolan (Luton) came onto her shoulder however Bell held her off before powering home for gold.

Bell, who has run a personal best 4:03.22 this season, won in 4:09.66 with Walcott Nolan second in 4:10.48 and Sarah McDonald (Andrew Walling; Birchfield Harriers) third in 4:12.92. Bell said: “I am really happy with how the race went.  I am glad I held the line.

“I was really relieved especially after I saw the men’s race, I knew nothing was certain.  I am hoping this will give me the World Indoors qualification in a couple of weeks. Onward after that I would never have expected to qualify for the Olympics but after the start to my season it is definitely in my sight now.”

Meanwhile, in the field, Morgan Lake did enough to win the women’s high jump with a best of 1.85m and secure her place in Glasgow. She entered at that height, clearing at the second attempt but then couldn’t quite get over 1.88m. Kate Anson (Liverpool) claimed silver with 1.82m while Lucy Walliker (Exeter) picked up bronze on countback with 1.78m.

Scott Lincoln – already in great form this year – took yet another men’s shot put title in impressive style. It was his first throw that proved the winner, 20.08m, before he followed up 19.86m in round two and 19.71m with his last attempt.

A win in 2024 adds to the titles he won in 2023, 2022 and 2020 through to 2016 with Patrick Swan (Ryan Spencer-Jones; Cornwall) claiming silver with a best of 18.33m and Andrew Knight (David Callaway; Southampton) bronze with 17.28m.

Lincoln said: “I am really chasing that British record now as I want to prove the doubters wrong.  I hope to get to Glasgow and compete with the best in the world. I have been busy competing against the world leaders; this is my fifth comp this season. I have been holding my own so I know I can do it.”

In the men’s 1500m, Copeland’s surge in the final few metres of the race was among the performances of the day. He was a seemingly distant third around the last bend but found a gap to surge through on the inside to deny Adam Fogg (Coventry) and Callum Elson (Cambridge & Coleridge) and win the title he last won in 2022.

Copeland clocked 3:48.43 for gold while Elson got ahead of Fogg for silver in 3:48.54. Copeland said: “I had a few race plans depending how the race went and it went off slowly, so I just wanted to stay with it but out of trouble. You can really lose the race if you go too early but, if you’re patient, you can win it.”

The manner of Copeland’s victory in the men’s 1500m was then repeated in the men’s 800m final as Higgins dethroned Guy Learmonth with a superb run. Learmonth took the final out but was pursued every step of the way by Higgins.

As the two pulled clear it became a scrap for the line with Higgins going on Learmonth’s outside and the pair seemingly inseparable at the line. Higgins’ dip was marginally better as he claimed his first UK indoor title in a huge personal best 1:47.91. Behind the top two, Justin Davies (Martin Rush; Team Bath) took bronze in 1:49.44.

Higgins said: “I knew Guy would take it out hard so I thought I’d just try and stick with him and give it my all. Luckily it worked and I felt strong so took it on from the final bend.  I was surprised how comfortable I felt after two laps but once I knew second was secured I thought let’s just go for it but when I crossed the line I did think I’d fallen just short.”

Earlier, in a thrilling men’s 400m final Thompson led from gun to tape to take the UK title for the first time since 2018 but was put under extreme pressure from Ben Higgins (Stewart Marshall; Sheffield & Dearne).

Coming around the final bend Thompson had to dig deep to hold off the charge of club mate Higgins as he clocked 46.69 to win gold by 0.10 while Isasc Osei-Tutu (WSEH) claimed bronze in 48.21.

The men’s 3000m final, which involved 19 athletes, saw James West ran a near-perfect race to defend his title. Settling in behind the early leaders, West pushed to the front with two laps to go and a great kick set him up for gold in 7:51.09.

Charles Wheeler (James Bennett; MK Distance Project), a bronze medallist last year, chased him home for silver in 7:52.19 while steeplechaser Zak Seddon (Bracknell) held off the charge of James Young (Lindsay Dunn; Morpeth) to take bronze in a personal best of 7:53.52.

In the women’s shot put Campbell proved to be one of the most impressive winners on the second and final day in Birmingham as she won her first UK title in the women’s shot put since 2020 by over a metre.  The clear best of the field, Campbell’s winning distance was 17.74m, 1.05m ahead of a consistent Serena Vincent (Mike Winch; City of Portsmouth), who took silver with 16.69m. Bronze went to last year’s champion Sophie McKinna (Paul Wilson; Great Yarmouth) with 16.55m.

Campbell said: “Ultimately my target today was to execute a big throw and get the qualifying distance or enough points to enable me to get to Glasgow for world indoors. The qualifying marks are very, very tough and I hope if I can get top-16 in the world I will get my chance.”

As well as Johnson-Thompson’s indoor personal best, the women’s shot put final also featured reigning World Para Athletics Championship gold medallist in the F20 shot put Sabrina Fortune (Ian Robinson; Deeside), who threw 13.66m. F35 athlete Anna Nicholson (Richard Kaufman; Gateshead) also had a good day in the circle throwing a personal best 9.10m.

Double world heptathlon champion Johnson-Thompson, in her first competition of 2024, said: “The plan was just some competition practice. Training has been going really well so I wanted to come out and see where I am under competition conditions. I am confident now I have found a good training set-up so I am very happy with my training so far and I am enjoying my preparations going towards Paris this year.”

Back on the track, just moments after seeing Laviai Nielsen win the 400m crown she won last year, Pipi edged out defending champion Success Eduan (Anita Richardson; Sale Harriers Manchester) in the women’s 200m final. Pipi and Eduan were neck and neck with the former getting the edge at the line by 0.12 as she won in 23.29. Brooke Ironside (Zac Kerin; Bournemouth) claimed bronze with a time of 23.68.

In the men’s final contested between just three there was still a dramatic race as Richard Akinyebo (Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai; BFT Track Academy) defended his title, just 0.10 ahead of Sagesse Nguie (Trafford) in silver while Harry Taylor (Joseph McDonnel; Harrow) was only a further 0.09 back for bronze.

The men’s high jump final went down to the wire and it was Tom Hewes (Grant Brown; Chelmsford) who stripped last year’s champion Will Grimsey (Bethan Partridge; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) of his title on countback. The only two to advance to 2.18m, Hewes cleared first time and Grimsey second, which would prove vital as both failed at 2.21m. That was a personal best for Hewes, who also claimed his first UK indoor title, while bronze went to Akin Coward (Carol Jackson; Shaftesbury Barnet) with 2.12m.

In the women’s 3000m walk final there were personal bests set led by Abigail Jennings (Verity Snook; Aldershot Farnham & District), who successfully defended her title with an impressive career indoor best time of 14:09.22. She was followed by Gracie Griffiths (Peter Freeman; Pembrokeshire) who also went under her indoor best with a 14:12.62 clocking for silver while Abby Hughes’ (Steve Shaw; Taunton) 14:19.09 for bronze was an overall personal best for the 3000m distance.

In the men’s walk final Christopher Snook (Andi Drake; Aldershot Farnham & District) was another athlete to regain their UK indoor title, powering to a huge personal best. Victorious in 2022 and a silver medalist in 2023, Snook impressively claimed gold with a career best walk of 11:45.68. Tom Partington (Steve Partington; Manx) took silver and Luc Legon (Noel Carmody; Bexley) took bronze.

On a day where there were 18 UK titles to decide, Lily Hulland (Femi Akinsanya; Thames Valley) took the first of the afternoon in the women’s triple jump final, and also a first for her fledgling career. In a final where each medallist jumped an indoor personal best, Hulland raised her game to respond to the challenge. After Adelaide Omitowoju (Benjamin Davies; Harrow) equalled the lead with 12.94m with her last jump, Hulland produced a leap of 13.06m to ensure she won gold. Similarly, Amy Warre (Keith Fleming; WSEH) claimed bronze with her last leap of 12.88m.

Similarly, the men’s long jump final also involved some late drama as Alexander Farquharson (Moore; Birchfield Harriers) claimed gold with a last-round leap of 7.46m. The leader up to that point had been Samuel Khogali (Lukasz Zawila; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) with his third round 7.41m but he could only post 7.35m on his last time up. Sam Danson (Zawila; Trafford) took bronze with a best of 7.40m.

For full results from the weekend follow this link: https://ukaic2024.microplustimingservices.com/#/schedule-bydate

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