SCOTTISH athletes had a weekend to savour at Sheffield, racking up a nine-medal haul at the UK Championships and European Indoor Trials.
A trio of gold medals – for Eilidh Child, Laura Muir and David Bishop – were the highlights, with Child and Muir’s performances securing their places at next month’s European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg.
Child, who set a new Scottish 400m record of 52.06 seconds in Saturday’s heats, won the UK title in 52.13secs ahead of defending champion Shana Cox (52.97).
The hurdles specialist said: “I’m over the moon, I just wanted to win it. I’ve had so many silvers at UK Championships before so it’s great to finally get a gold.
“It’s been a great weekend for me. I was a bit worried about how I’d run today after having a hard run last night. I’m happy that I’ve come out and done two solid races back to back. I’ll run the 400m at the European Indoors so that was good preparation for me because I’ll need to run a round every day so this has got my body used to it.”
Teenager Muir, who won the 1500m in 4:13.59, said: “It is close to my personal best, but the main thing was to secure a place for the Europeans. Now I am really looking forward to Sweden
Bishop’s gold in the 3000m was one of the Saturday highlights, but his time of 8:06.98 was not enough to guarantee a trip to Sweden.
With only eight days to go until the squad is selected, Bishop may have to find hidden reserves at next weekend’s Birmingham Grand Prix if he is to secure a place in Sweden. He said: “I think there are three spots for Gothenburg and I’ve won the trials so, if I get the time, I’ll go.”
Silver medals for Allan Smith in the men’s high jump and Emily Stewart in the 3000m confirmed their status as emerging talents while Allan Scott earned his reward for hard work in the 60m hurdles after almost three years without real indoor competition. .
Guy Learmonth picked up a bronze in the men’s 800m. The two men who beat him, Joe Thomas and Mukhtar Mohammed, didn’t post the European qualifying – mark which Learmonth has already achieved – so the selection could come down to Birmingham next weekend. The race, in fact, produced the closest finish of the day with officials needing a lengthy study of the photo finish before giving the verdict to defending champion Thomas ahead of Mohammed. Both athletes were given the same time of one minute 48.55 seconds.
In addition to Learmonth, there were also bronzes for Edinburgh AC pair Jayne Nisbet in high jump and Sarah Warnock in long jump, with the latter’s 6.16m very close to the Glasgow 2014 standard of 6.20m being asked once that qualification period opens in April.
Edinburgh AC high jumper, Jayne Nisbet, took a bronze with a clearance of 1.78.
The men’s high jump saw Smith and Italy’s Fassinotti finish a long way behind Olympic medallist Robbie Grabarz, who came up short in his bid to set a new British record but continued his Gothenburg preparations with a season’s best.
Grabarz, who claimed a bronze medal at the London Olympics last year, easily won the UK Championships title with a clearance of 2.31 metres, before putting the bar up to a national record and world-leading height of 2.39m. The 25-year-old’s first attempt ended in comical fashion as he tried to abort his run-up and ended up carrying the bar off in his hands, but the second and third efforts were much closer.
“I think I will get it easily, especially after today,” said Grabarz, who will look to add the European Indoor title in Gothenburg to his outdoor crown in March. “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.
Two years ago, Grabarz finished 23rd in qualifying at the European Indoors in Paris and his career seemed to be going nowhere, but after losing his Lottery funding at the end of that year and getting a stern talking to from his coach, he has reaped the rewards for refocusing on the sport.
“The target is to win in Gothenburg and I am looking forward to it,” he added.
Elsewhere, world indoor champion Yamile Aldama won the triple jump, but the 40-year-old was disappointed with a winning distance of 13.44m.
“It feels good to defend the title, winning is always good,” Aldama said. “I wasn’t happy with the distance but I’m coming back slowly after (shoulder) surgery in September last year.”