10 FEB 2013 Report Sheffield, Great Britain

Grabarz and Bleasdale grab the limelight at UK Champs

Robbie Grabarz at the 2013 the UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield (Getty Images)Robbie Grabarz at the 2013 the UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield (Getty Images) © Copyright

With none of the country’s three London 2012 Olympic Games champions in action, it was two vertical jumpers who flew highest at the UK Indoor Championships at Sheffield’s EIS Arena on Saturday and Sunday (9/10).

High jumper Robbie Grabarz broke the stadium record on Sunday as he sailed over 2.31m to move to fourth in the world, while Holly Bleasdale produced a world-leading Pole Vault mark of 4.77m on day one of the European Athletics Indoor Championships trials.

With 400 athletes competing, organisers boasted this was the biggest UK indoor championships ever, but the absence of local girl Jessica Ennis – who has opted out of the indoor season – meant the Sheffield crowd needed something to raise their spirits.

Bleasdale did just that on Saturday when she improved Jenn Suhr’s world-lead by one centimetre

Grabarz duly followed on Sunday, the Olympic Games bronze medallist’s best jump of the year so far.

He cleared easily at 2.25m, enough to claim his first indoor title, and then needed two tries to go over at 2.31m, before taking three shots at the UK indoor record and world-leading height of 2.39m, the third one being a close effort.

“I’ve never had the indoor title so that was my target today, then to try to get the world lead,” he said. “It was only my second competition so to be jumping that high is pretty good.

“I’m ready to try and break the record. I’ve been training hard; I’ve not done too many competitions indoors so I know that when I come out I’m ready to go.

Grabarz ready for rocketing

“The 2.39 attempts were good, I’m sure I’ll get told off by my coach for running too fast but that’s a positive problem. I think I will get it easily, especially after today.

“The first two (attempts at 2.39m) were a little ropey but it wasn't because I couldn't clear it, it was just because it was my second competition of the year and only my fifth jump of the day. “I'm not doing many competitions indoors so when I do it's nice to come out and show my training is working. Obviously I didn't clear it, but I wanted to go straight for the world lead after I took the title.

“The first two (attempts at 2.39m) were a little ropey but it wasn't because I couldn't clear it, it was just because it was my second competition of the year and only my fifth jump of the day. “I'm not doing many competitions indoors so when I do it's nice to come out and show my training is working. Obviously I didn't clear it, but I wanted to go straight for the world lead after I took the title.

“I managed to slowly calm myself back down (after the first attempt) and so I know what to focus on next week now.''

It was a busy weekend for Christine Ohuruogu, the 2008 Olympic Games 400m gold medallist and silver medal winner last summer. 

She intends to run the 4x400m relay at the European indoors in Gothenburg next month and used this weekend to work on her speed, finishing second over 200m on day two after going out in the 60m semifinals on Saturday.

Ohuruogu chased defending champion Margaret Adeoye home in the one-lap final, her fourth race of the weekend, clocking 23.58 to the winner’s 23.22.

“It’s been a great weekend,” said Ohuruogu. “It was very good having Margaret on the outside because she’s fast and it’s good to be led around.

“I don’t read too much into this weekend’s times at the moment. As long as I go home in one piece I’m happy.”

Clarke and Child in fast form

Chris Clarke was an impressive winner of the men’s 200m in 20.96, shaving 0.02 from his best, while Eilidh Child won Ohuruogu’s favoured event, beating defending champion Shana Cox over two laps of the indoor track in 52.13.

The victory capped an excellent weekend for the Olympic Games 400m Hurdles semi-finalist, who clocked 52.06 in her heat on Saturday evening to move to third in the world for 2013 and to the top of the European list for the year.

“I was a bit worried about how I’d be today after having a hard run last night. I’ll run 400m at the European indoors so that was good preparation. I’ll need to run a round every day so this has got my body used to it."

“I’m happy that I’ve done two solid races back-to-back," said Child, who also set a Scottish record for the event. 

Nigel Levine was a comfortable winner of the hotly contested men’s 400m. Levine beat Conrad Williams to the line in 46.72 to secure his third title and a berth on the plane to Gothenburg.

Child’s semi-final run was one of three impressive sprint performances on day one, the others coming from James Dasaolu and Asha Philip who posted personal bests to win the men’s and women’s 60m titles.

Dasaolu clocked 6.58 while Philip broke the stadium record with 7.15 to move to sixth on the world list.

Laura Muir added to a good weekend for Scotland, the Dundee junior dominated the women’s 1500m final to win in 4:13.59.

Lauren Howarth enjoyed a similar comprehensive victory in the women’s 3000m. Competing indoors for the first time, she beat Emma Stewart by nearly 12 seconds to finish in a personal best of 8:56.48.

Steve Lewis cleared 5.50m to beat Luke Cutts in the men’s Pole Vault.

By contrast to the smiles exhibited by the winners, there was first day disappointment for hurdler Andy Pozzi and long jumper Chris Tomlinson.

Pozzi hamstring problem

Pozzi, fourth in the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships 60m Hurdles clocked 7.62 in his heat but pulled out after the semi-final with a hamstring problem.

In his absence, Gianni Frankis improved on his four previous silver medals, by taking the gold medal in 7.73.

Tomlinson was beaten in the long jump by Matt Burton who leapt a lifetime best of 7.94m to the former British record holder’s 7.88m. Burton also had jumps of 7.93m and 7.85m as Tomlinson struggled to find his true form.

Another favourite came a cropper in the men’s 1500m. Chris Warburton was disqualified after causing interference in his heat, leaving Matthew Fayers to win the final in 3:47.76.

London-based Nigerian Tosin Oke won the men’s Triple Jump with 16.97m while 2012 World Indoor Championships Triple Jump gold medallist Yamile Aldama was decidedly unstretched in taking the women’s event with 13.44m, almost two metres down in her 10-year-old best.

In the women’s 800m, Marilyn Okoro was denied a fifth title by Ireland’s Claire Tarplee, who chased down the experienced Briton over the last 100 metres to win in 2:03.66. All the finalists ran personal bests except the disappointed Okoro who stepped off the track in the home straight.

Another Irish victory went to former world indoor champion Derval O’Rourke, won the women’s 60m Hurdles ahead of Sarah Claxton.

Ennis normally dominates this event in her home city, and O’Rourke made the most of her absence to win in 8.11 – meaning there was at least one person in Sheffield who was glad the golden girl of British athletics was not around.

Matthew Brown for the IAAF