The British Track & Field Championships held in Birmingham over the weekend doubled as the qualifying competition for the Rio Olympics being held in August later this year.
Blackburn Harriers Holly Bradshaw and Sophie Hitchon, not only became British Champions again but also booked their place on the plane to Rio to compete in their second Olympics in four years. Samantha Murray – who won the Silver Medal at London 2012 – has already been selected to represent GB in the Modern pentathlon which means that for the second time in the last four years, these outstanding young athletes will be competing in the Olympic Games – a fantastic achievement by any measure.
Holly won the Pole Vault with first time clearances of 4.34m – 4.50m – 4.60m and then attempted 4.72m to defend her title which she had won in 2014 and 2015. After the competition Holly told the Club “I’m incredibly pleased to qualify for my second Olympics and to win the British Champs again was amazing. I have been trying to figure stuff out recently in competition as my training jumps are much better then in competition. But the more I compete the better it gets so I’m excited to keep competing and building momentum towards Rio! I am looking forward to the next 4 weeks and my remaining competitions before heading out to Rio on the 1st August.” Holly will now spend her time concentrating on her preparations for Rio.
Sophie retained her British title which she has held since 2014 with a throw of 69.99m and speaking to the Club after the successful weekend, she said “I am very proud to come away British Champion again. Sometimes it can be the hardest competition when your expected to win. It wasn’t a great performance and would have liked to throw a little further, but the main aim was to win and seal my place on the team for Rio. I have the European championships next and am looking forward to competing in Amsterdam”. Sophie’s next competition sees her competing for Great Britain in the European Championships which starts on July 6th in Amsterdam.
Alison Leonard who is having a very good season was also hopeful of qualifying for the Olympics in the 800m having already achieved the qualifying time. She comfortably won her Heat in a time of 2.03.30, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be in the Final as she finished agonisingly close in 3rd place to miss out by just three tenths of a second. But Alison now moves on to the European Championships in Amsterdam (July 6 -10th) where she has been selected to contest the 800m for Great Britain.
It was a proud day for the Howe Family watching Zac Howe run in the 800m Heat (1) placing 8th out of the ten athletes in a time of 1.52.47.After his experience at the Championships, Zac shared his thoughts with the Club saying “it was amazing to be in the company of such great athletes and to see fellow Blackburn Harriers do so well. The highlight has to be walking into the stadium and waving to my family in the crowd. The race itself could have gone better but I went into it with zero expectations. I came out though with a real taste for that level of competition. I would love to be there again and I’m going to make sure that I can be more competitive next time.” Just in front of Zac in 7th place was Dominic Walton from Rossendale, also racing on the national stage. Great to see local athletes competing in the British Championships.