British Bronze for Quirk
Updated: Sep 7
Cover photo by @jrhodesathletics
There were sixteen performances in total from BUAC athletes on the first day of the British Athletics Championships, and while the first day of the British Athletics Championships is not usually one for finals, there was plenty of action to be had up at Sportcity, Manchester.
The highlight of the day came just after the broadcast went off air on BBC 2, but for those watching online, listening to alumna Hannah England's commentary, the women's 5000 was an enthralling race from start to finish. After a sixth place performance at the same competition last year, Amelia Quirk secured a bronze medal in a new club record of 15:43.35.
While his 10.67 (+0.4) was only good enough for fourth in his heat, Rahman secured his semi-final place as a non-automatic qualifier, with the 13th fastest time of the heats, albeit with four athletes running 10.66, just a hundredth of a second ahead of him.
Lining up in lane 2 for the first semi-final, Rahman* was in a tough race featuring Ojie Edoburun from Shaftesbury Barnet, and Joel Pascall-Menzie of Newham & Essex Beagles, two sprint powerhouses, as well as fastest man in the UK this year, Andy Robertson.
Edoburun and Pascall-Menzie started well, and Rahman, the Sheffield & Dearne athlete, was level with them through the first 30 metres, with the fast-starting Robinson out in front.
On the opposite side of the track, in lane eight, Destiny Ogali was also going well, and as Edoburun, Pascall-Menzie and Robertson pulled away, Ogali and Rahman finished in what was a dead heat to the naked eye.
Photofinish failed to separate them either, as the duo were awarded a 10.53 (+2.0), both as non-automatic qualifiers for the final.
Despite having the slowest reaction time (0.178) by a long way, there was a very strong start from Rahman* in the final. Running in the same lane as his semi, lane two, Rahman was up with Andy Robertson early on, with both leading at the thirty metre mark.
It was not meant to be, however, with Robertson overhauled for the win by both Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, and Ojie Edoburun, and Rahman let down by some ragged form in the latter half of the race for a time of 10.63 (+1.2), finishing eighth.
In a race involving former British Indoor champion over 200 metres, Toby Harries, Mark Cottam* and Rory Keen raced at opposite ends of the lane draw, in 1 and 7 respectively. With Harries battling with Lee Thompson of Sheffield & Dearne at the front, the rest of the field followed behind down the home straight, with both Cottam and Keen finishing in a raft of 48-second runs.
Confirmed results were 48.39 for Keen in fifth, producing a season's best when it mattered, and 48.62 for Cottam in seventh. Unfortunately neither progressed to the final, with only seven athletes qualifying from a strong field.
European U20 champion Issy Boffey raced in the first heat of the women's 800 metres, in a heat featuring BUCS 'chase champion Aimee Pratt, and European U23 silver medallist Ellie Baker.
In the red and yellow of Enfield and Haringey, Boffey was first at the stagger, before being overtaken down the back straight by both Pratt and Baker as both looked to put themselves in a strong position heading into the second bend.
Pratt of Sale Harriers led Boffey and Baker through the first lap in 61.60, before the Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier, Baker, moved to the front, halfway down the back straight.
Boffey made her move with 120 to go, showing the speed that brought her a BUCS gold medal over 400 earlier in the year. Level with Baker with 25 metres to go, and with Pratt distanced in third, both athletes eased up, with their qualification into the final secured. Final time for Boffey, 2:05.46.
Men's 400 Hurdles
The BBC cameras focused on Chris McAlister* in the second heat of two in the men's 400 hurdles, and rightly so. Despite rising in the middle of the pack at hurdle one, by the second he was already a stride up on the pack, and from there it was never in doubt.
One stride became two, and then three, and while Efe Okoro of Birchfield Harriers followed closely, the rest trailed in McAlister's wake.
Despite a wobble over the penultimate hurdle, the Thames Valley Harrier powered away from both that and hurdle ten to take the victory in 51.45, easing up over the line and securing a centre lane in Saturday's final.
In a heat which featured Jake Wightman, favourite of many to take the title on Saturday, it was the less well-known names who took the pace out, running three wide through the first lap. Carvell sat out in lane two on the shoulder of Henry Johnson, behind leader Tiarnan Crorken, and was led through the bell in 59.25.
Johnson faded early on in the second lap, and Carvell moved up alongside Crorken as Wightman made his way to the front with 300 metres of running remaining.
Wightman took up the pace with 250 metres to go, and after dropping in behind Crorken on the inside, Carvell was unfortunately passed by multiple athletes round the bend and into the home straight, coming home in 1:55.34 for seventh.
The women's 5000 metres featured two BUAC athletes in fine form. Amelia Quirk and Saskia Millard, ranked UK #3 and UK #15 respectively over the 3000 distance, looked to step up in distance just slightly, for 12.5 laps of the track.
In the early race, no-one wanted to lead the pack of athletes, and both Quirk and Millard sat near the front, tucked behind the tall figures of Jess Judd and Verity Ockenden. It took until the third circuit of the track for a push to finally come, and when it did it came from Bronwen Owen of Leeds, who led through the first kilometre in 3:24.
Owen's push would string the athletes out slightly, with a strong front four athletes emerging. Owen led, followed by Judd, in her Blackburn blue, then Ockenden and Quirk. As the athletes approached the end of the second kilometre (which was run in 3:07), Quirk made a move down the back straight, passing Ockenden, as Saskia Millard moved up as well, into sixth.
Fighting back, Quirk's Bracknell colours were passed by the green and white of Ockenden, the Swansea Harrier, and she then did well to avoid danger, a little tussle with Kate Avery around the halfway point thankfully resulting in everyone staying on their feet.
With 7.5 laps gone, the pack finally splintered, with another fast kilometre of 3:08 enough to separate the front four from the rest. Millard fell behind into the second group, but retained good position, tracking the pace of Jenny Nesbitt at the head of things.
With just over three laps to go, Owen made her move, beginning the race in earnest. With a gap of nearly 50 metres between the leaders and the chasers, it was clear that the medallists would come from the four athletes. With all athletes looking to maximise their chances of success, Jess Judd led the athletes through four kilometers (3:09 split) with Quirk on her shoulder.
Coming into the home straight with 500 metres remaining and Owen dropped, Ockenden made her move round the outside, giving the order at the bell as Judd, Ockenden, Quirk, with Judd having the luxury of a few metres on the others.
With the gaps stretching over the top bend, Quirk kicked for home and began to reel in Ockenden, but with metres running out, the athletes crossed the line in the order they did a lap earlier. Judd secured gold, Ockenden the silver, and Quirk took a bronze medal for her first British senior accolade, in a time of 15:43.35, a personal best and a new club record.
Millard, who had worked her way into the lead of the chasers, showed her strong kick at the end, outlasting all but Isobel Fry of Newbury for fifth place and a 16:02.03, a stellar personal best at her first time over the distance.
In the first heat of the men's 1500 metre races, James Gormley and Ian Crowe-Wright* both featured in a stacked heat. The pace was taken out by Kieran Reilly of Tonbridge, which proved to be his downfall, with more measured running from Gormley and Crowe-Wright placing them comfortably at the back of the pack.
With both thankfully avoiding falling after a television official stepped out onto the track in the home straight of lap one, Gormley and Crowe-Wright remained calm at the back, and maintained their position through the first 800 metres, still led by Reilly.
At 500 metres to go, Crowe-Wright began moving up on the outside, and Gormley the inside, with Crowe-Wright level at the front by the time the athletes hit the bell. Down the back straight and into the bend, Gormley navigated round a fast-fading Reilly, and survived a tussle with James Heneghan of Cardiff to sit sixth as they rounded into the home straight.
Passed by Dan Bebbington on the inside, and perhaps paying the price for his strong move a lap earlier, Crowe-Wright was overtaken by the fast finishes of Gormley and Heneghan either side.
Gormley's strong kick took him past the likes of Crowe-Wright and Heneghan, finishing in third to secure an automatic qualification to the final with a time of 3:48.59Q, naturally a season's best as his first run out over the distance this season.
With the first heat athletes running without the benefit of knowing what time would secure the non-automatic qualifying spots if they finished outside the top four, the lead bunch of six crossed the line with just a second between them.
Crowe-Wright was the last of them, in sixth, and despite some confusion surrounding a potential disqualification in the second of the two heats, he took home a time of 3:49.35q and a spot in the final.
Sinha sat highest of the athletes through the first 200 metres, as they came into the home straight three-wide. Davies and Brint ran in the latter half of the pack, both moving up along the home straight to sit behind the Cambridge Harrier blue worn by Sinha as they completed their first circuit.
The athletes held those positions for their second lap, with very little movement, as the field was led by a Laura Weightman who had run 4:01 at her best in 2020. At the bell, Sinha found herself in a second echelon of three behind the leaders, while Davies and Brint were paired up at the back of those still in contention, with Sophie Crumly long since distanced.
As Weightman's pace strung the field out as they negotiated the back straight for the final time, Sinha was sixth of six in the lead group, with positions changing amongst the elongated group only once before the finish.
Sinha finished in sixth, with a time of 4:20.17 that was only two tenths of a second from qualifying her from the final. Davies then led Brint home for 4:23.82 and 4:24.07 in seventh and eighth, strong early running unfortunately not enough as the pace ramped up.
Emily Thompson was the final athlete involved in the day, running in the second of two heats just shortly after Davies, Brint and Sinha.
Her heat involved Jess Judd, which would be a fairly unremarkble fact had she not secured a British title a mere 31 minutes earlier in the 5000 metres. Clearly not in need of a warm up, Judd shot to the front from the gun. Thompson took a more relaxed approach, sitting off a large group of athletes who seemed a little too close for comfort down the back straight.
Wearing the maroon, green and white of Banbury, and sheltered well from the wind, Thompson sat in for the first lap, and then the second, which were led by Judd in 71 and 70 seconds respectively.
Approaching the bell with Judd still leading, Thompson began to make her move, passing a Fife athlete who looked to be treading water on her inside. While she had significantly upped her pace, so had the rest of the field, and it was strictly single file running for most of the lap as Judd held an incredible tempo.
The four leaders eased up into the line, led by Judd for a gun-to-tape victory, and despite the relaxation in the last 20 metres, all posted faster times than Weightman's winning time from the first heat, a testament to the electrifying pace.
Thompson followed them in seventh place, 4:19.97q her time, and a place in the final secured as a non-automatic qualifier.