Sheffield, UKDonna Fraser proved that old ones really are still the best as she won a fabulous 200/400 double on day two of the Aviva European Trials and UK Championships in Sheffield today (15).
The 36-year-old won the 200m in 23.48 earlier in the afternoon, and then held off the challenge of 800m specialist Marlyn Okoro to claim her first ever British indoor 400m title in 52.83.
The fact that her winning time was a personal best says much about Fraser’s love of the sport and ever-lasting desire to win. It also makes her the third quickest in Europe and Fraser now has her eyes on a medal at the European Indoor Championships in Turin next month.
“What can I say? This year I have just gone back to basics and just run,” she said. “It seems to be working.”
However, the south Londoner, who finished fourth in the ‘Cathy Freeman final’ at the Sydney Olympics eight and a half years ago, hinted that Turin could be her swansong international.
“I don’t know about the rest of the season yet,” she said. “I just want to get through the indoors and make my decision. I don’t know how long I’ll go on. The mind’s willing but the body’s getting old.”
Buck, Farah pleased with victories as Turin looms
Richard Buck may be at the other end of the age scale but he was another athlete who’ll have now his eye on a medal in Turin after a strong 400m this weekend. The 22-year-old retained his two-lap title in 46.41, the fourth quickest in the world this year and third best by a European behind David Gillick’s 46.18 on Friday night.
“I did what I had to do this weekend, so I can go home happy,” said Buck, who won by some five metres.
Mo Farah will also travel home a happy man after another satisfying performance. Just two weeks after breaking the British 3000m record in Glasgow, Farah smashed his personal best over 1500m winning the event by 20 metres in 3:40.57, a stadium record.
He described the race as “good preparation” for the 3000m in Turin where he will be a clear favourite.
“I needed to do some speed work so running hard over 1500m was great,” he said. “I am in great shape.”
Kelly Sotherton’s shape is less certain, however. The multi-eventer’s injury worries returned to haunt her today just 24 hours after she hobbled away from the Long jump competition without a decent mark to her name.
Sotherton started well enough on day two, finishing second in the Shot Put with a best of 14.50m, just 7cm short of her PB. But her mood soon turned sour when she was forced to pull out of the High Jump after two attempts with another twinge in the lower back and hip area. She cleared 1.71m okay, but then failed badly at 1.75m and seemed to be in some pain.
The injury was described later as minor but with her eyes on a medal in Turin, she was taking no chances. The competition could have done with a bit more of Sotherton’s presence, however, as Stephanie Pywell won with a paltry height of 1.82m.
In the shot, Allison Rogers produced a personal best to win with 15.79m, but Sotherton was encouraged by her ability to improve steadily through the rounds in an event that has often been a weakness. The world indoor silver medallist credited her new coach Bob Weir, the former British international recently returned from the USA, with a change in attitude to the event.
“I wasn’t sure if I would be here at all today after dropping out of the long jump yesterday,” she said. “I’ve seen a massive improvement since I’ve been working with Bob. It’s great that UKA have brought home grown talent back here.”
Lewis challenging British Pole Vault record
There was encouraging news for pole vaulter Steve Lewis too. The former world youth champion won the title easily with a stadium record of 5.65m and then took three good attempts at the British record height of 5.82m.
Lewis has cleared 5.75m this year, but he performed badly at the Aviva International in Glasgow two weeks ago so this was a welcome return to form.
“Glasgow was awful but today was a complete contrast,” he said. “I’m going to get the record this season.” His next attempt will be in Stockholm this week.
Lewis was a class apart in his event and the same could be said of Andy Turner – at least in the heats. Turner produced a season’s best of 7.57 in his first race to put himself among the top five in Europe, but then he was disqualified in the final for a false start.
The title went to Scotland’s Chris Baillie in 7.74 while Turner described himself as “gutted”. “My heat was great and I know there’s another tenth to come off there,” he said.
Leon Baptiste won the men’s 200m in 21.04 which also puts him among Europe’s top five, while another Scot, Susan Scott, led from gun to tape to win the women’s 1500m in 4:12.85.
Jenny Meadows adopted the same tactics to win the 800m in 2:01.67, her best of the year and under the 2:02 UKA set as a guideline qualification mark for Turin. “I’ve done what I came for,” she said.
Ed Aston won the men’s 800m in 1:48.82 while Julian Golley won the Triple Jump with 16.07, an event that lost its lustre somewhat after the withdrawal of Phillips Idowu with a knee injury yesterday. Idowu plans to be back to action at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham next weekend.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF