It was a weekend of PBs and smashed records at the Aviva 2012 Trials, with 32 athletes gaining pole position in their quest for London 2012 places.
Emotions were running high and Sportsister was lucky enough to be at the heart of the action on the final day of competition, with the performances, along with the incredible atmosphere and spectator support, giving a sign of things to come in just over a month’s time.
Athletes such as Christine Ohuruogu, Jessica Ennis, Tiffany Porter and Shara Proctor (pictured above) all look set to receive the selectors nod for Team GB on July 2 following their performances at the trials.
Saturday saw hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon become the first athlete of the day to potentially book her spot at London 2012 with a distance of 69.79m enough to win her the national title for the second consecutive year.
“It’s a bit unreal at the minute,” Hitchon confessed. “I wanted to come out here and come first or second and that’s what happened. I think when July 3 comes around and my name is on the sheet then it’s going to be more real then.”
Reigning Olympic champion Ohuruogu and her training partner Shana Cox also look set to compete in the Olympic Stadium in August as they secured first and second place finishes respectively in the 400m final.
“The race was alright,” said Ohuruogu. “My coach will tear it apart but it was ok. London’s very close.”
Cox added: “I’m happy, I’m excited, the weekend went well. I think I executed both races well so it’s looking good going into the next few weeks.”
Jessica Ennis wowed the crowd in the 100m hurdles to push specialist Tiffany Porter into second place and claim the national title. As well as gaining automatic selection for the 100m hurdles, Saturday also saw the British heptathlon record holder win the high jump for the second consecutive year.
“It was a great race,” said Ennis. “To win it was brilliant. To know that I’m in good shape and things are moving forward is great.”
The finals of the women’s 100m and 800m proved to be inconclusive for Games places but national titles went to Lynsey Sharp in the 800m and Ashleigh Nelson in the 100m. There were also national titles for Eden Francis in discus and shot put and 10,000m victory for Caryl Jones.
Day three at the Trials offered plenty more nail-biting action, with the likes of Shara Proctor, Goldie Sayers and Perri Shakes-Drayton pretty much securing their London 2012 spots.
Jo Jackson claimed her seventh national title as she dominated the race walk whilst Shara Proctor’s jump of 6.95m in the long jump was the longest leap since Bev Kinch’s 6.90m in 1983. The Birchfield Harrier admitted afterwards life couldn’t get much better.
“I’m just on top of the world right now,” Proctor said. “I got the British record, I’m going to the Olympics – how good can it get?!
“It was not good conditions but I said to myself London might be like this so I have to prepare and do my best no matter what so that’s what I did today. I have what it takes, I have to go back and work on some technical problems and I’ll be fine.”
Ennis could not unfortunately share in long jump success, as she finished sixth after fouling three times and running through twice.
A few hours later and Holly Bleasdale followed Proctor’s example and set a new UK outdoor best of 4.71m in the pole vault. The giant leap should see the Blackburn athlete compete at the London Olympic Stadium in August alongside Kate Dennison, who finished second.
“It sets me up well for the next competition, when I’m in that position again I can just take things from here,” said Bleasdale. “I never thought that [failing to qualify today] was possible. I’ve always had this competition in the plan. For me, jumping 40 on the last try and 50 just shows what sort of character I am. I’ve shown grit, determination and I think it’s only a positive I can take from it.”
It was also a day to remember for Goldie Sayers who not only secured a record tenth UK javelin title but looks set to make it at a third Olympic Games in a row with a throw of 58.45m to win the competition.
“I’m very proud to have won my tenth title,” she admitted. “I was hoping to throw further but the conditions weren’t the best. I feel very privileged to be able to go to a home Olympics, my third as well so it doesn’t get any better than that. A personal best and a British record in the final would be the ultimate dream.”
A packed afternoon of track and field followed, with a standout moment being the women’s 400m hurdles. An incredibly tight race, Shakes-Drayton eventually came away victorious, pipping Eilidh Child to gold.
The excitement continued with Margaret Adeoye securing the women’s 200m title before Jo Pavey produced an excellent run to win the 5000m. Further great victories came for Laura Weightman in the 1500m and Eilish McColgan in the 3000m steeplechase.
Attention now turns to the European Athletics Championships which take place in Helsinki, Finland, from June 27 – July 1.
Jessica Whittington, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Image credit: UKA