Sheffield, UKThe fireworks came early at the UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield this weekend as Dwain Chambers moved into pole position for the world title in Doha next month with a blistering performance in the 60m on Saturday (13) afternoon.
Chambers, last year’s European champion, beat a clutch of younger rivals as he powered home in 6.50, 0.01s faster than USA’s Ivory Williams ran in Boston last weekend.
Last year Chambers moved to third on the world all-time list when he broke the European record in Turin, clocking 6.42, and the 31-year-old feels he is approaching that form again.
“I’m confident this is just the start,” he said. “I’m not going to start celebrating till I’ve got that ticket to Doha but when I know I’m definitely going then I’ll start thinking about winning it.”
Chambers was clearly the fastest through the rounds, clocking an easy 6.64 in the heats before turning up the pressure with 6.58 in the semi-finals. He got a great start in the final and, despite the close attention of Harry Aikines Aryeetey, crossed the line 0.05s clear.
“I really had to run because I had these young boys on my tail,” said Chambers after producing the performance of the weekend. “I must be getting better with age. The pressure was on, not just to win but to run well.”
UKA only guarantees selection to winners at these trials, provided they are inside the UKA qualifying mark, set at 6.60 for the 60m. With 6.55 in second place, however, Aikines Aryeetey will surely be joining Chambers on the plane to Qatar for the former IAAF World youth and junior champion outdoors sliced 0.04s from his indoor PB, and lowered his season’s best by 0.08s.
“I just latched onto Dwain,” said the 21-year-old. “My last few indoor seasons have been good but they’ve never been quite there. This time I put the race together.”
Craig Pickering just edged out the improving Mark Lewis-Francis for third in 6.66.
Sixth 60m title for Maduaka...
This was Chambers’ third straight national indoor title, but he still has some way to go to match Joice Maduaka.
The veteran sprinter notched up her sixth UK indoor gold in the women’s 60m in 7.29, coming from behind to beat Bernice Wilson by a tenth. Then a day later the 36-year-old won the 200m as well, in 23.48, to complete an impressive sprint double.
There was more impressive sprinting from Leon Baptiste. The 24-year-old produced the fastest time by a European this year to win the 200m in 20.90, a PB by 0.05s and sixth quickest in the world.
... and sixth indoor 800m triumph for Meadows as well
There were also good wins for middle distance runners Helen Clitheroe and Jenny Meadows.
Meadows broke the stadium record to win her sixth national indoor 800m title. The World bronze medallist from Berlin has started the 2010 season with great confidence and she showed that again here, running some 15 metres ahead of the field to win in 2:00.91.
“I know I am in 1:59 shape,” she said afterwards, adding that she expects to be running 1:58 by the time she gets to Doha.
Clitheroe adopted similar front running tactics to win the 1500m in 4:13.90.
Ennis and Idowu on the sidelines
Otherwise, the championships lost a bit of sparkle when Britain’s two outdoor World champions, Jessica Ennis and Phillips Idowu, pulled out last week.
Sheffield-based Ennis withdrew as a precaution with a slight foot injury while Idowu, the reigning World indoor champion, decided to concentrate on next Saturday’s IAAF Grand Prix meeting in Birmingham.
Ennis was expected to compete in four events here – the High Jump, Shot Put, 60m Hurdles and Long Jump. In her absence Derval O’Rourke – Ireland’s former World indoor champion – took the 60m hurdles in 8.11, while another Irishwoman, Kelly Proper, won the Long Jump with 6.48.
Tosin Oke made the most of Idowu’s withdrawal to win the Triple Jump, notching up a personal best with 16.76m. Jamaica’s former World champion Trecia Smith won the women’s Triple Jump with 13.69m.
Chris Tomlinson was aiming for his seventh title in the Long Jump, but had to be satisfied with second as Greg Rutherford’s first round leap of 7.94m was enough to win. Tomlinson, the 2008 World indoor silver medallist, jumped 7.75m in the final round but was some way below his best.
Kate Dennison won her fifth consecutive title in the Pole Vault and narrowly missed improving her own national record for the third time this year. The 25-year-old won with 4.40m and had enough height to clear 4.58m on her first attempt before coming down on the bar.
It was a similar story for Steve Lewis in the men’s event. He won with 5.56m before failing to break his own stadium record of 5.65m.
Another Irish athlete, Hazel Murphy, was a surprise Doha qualifier from the women’s 3000m. Needing 9:03, she ran 9:02.06 while second-placed Gemma Turtle also qualified with 9:02.81.
Samson One won the men’s High Jump with 2.25m to book his place in the team, although Vicki Hubbard narrowly missed the qualifying mark of 1.92m after she won the women’s event at 1.87m.
Kim Wall won the women’s 400m in 53.07, another Doha qualifier, while Richard Buck endured a rough race to win the men’s 400 in 47.54.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF
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