This is our friend, Stuart Weir, senior writer for Europe, dodging the rain and writing about all things British Trials on day one.
Day 1 Overview
To the first day of the British Athletics Championships, I took sunglasses, sunscreen, a jacket, and an umbrella – and I needed them all! The day which began pleasantly warm with bright afternoon sunshine, ended with the two 100-meter finals, scheduled for 7.20 and 7.30pm, which turned into a farce by, to quote BBC, “rain of biblical proportions”.
The rain in Manchester was, well biblical, photo by Stuart Weir
While the US trials are fair and simple (or alternatively, brutal and unforgiving), the British championships have an element of discretion and, arguably, unfairness. In the US, it is first three, no ifs, no buts. In the UK trials, the first two qualify automatically for selection, but the third place is at the discretion of the selectors. The US trials stretch to four days, while the UK version is fitted into two days. That, too, has consequences.
The Brit Men’s 100m, in the biblical rain, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
Let’s use the women’s 100 meters to illustrate both points. 24 girls lined up in the three semi-finals. 19 had gained their place by finishing well in the preliminary round. Five had been given wild cards into the semi-final based on their performances earlier this season. In the Diamond League in Stockholm earlier in the week, Darryl Neita had beaten Dina Asher-Smith. The prospect of the two going head to head in the 100 and the 200 at the trials was mouth-watering. But it did not happen. Neita opted to run the 200 only and Asher-Smith the 100 only, either having done a deal or assuming that they would gain selection in one and be granted the discretionary place in the other. There is an argument that requiring two of your best medal hopes to run four races in a little over 24 hours is not the most sensible decision. But it does deprive the national championships of two of its best races and is intrinsically unfair.
Keely Hodgkinson, photo by Getty Images for Brit Athletics
I understand that already 47,000 tickets have been sold for the London Diamond League. The crowd today is barely 2,000.
I know they would be criticized for whatever they did and that it was incredibly difficult to face. That said, I doubt whether the men’s 100 meters race should have taken place in the rain. I’m entirely sure that the women’s race should have been postponed. That two of the 8 women failed to finish, indicating that the track was not fit to race on. See https://twitter.com/i/status/1677749119295660033
The action throughout the day was of a mixed standard. Zharnel Hughes, fresh from his British record of 9.83, won the Men’s 100 in 10.03 in the rain and on a wet track. In the semi-final, defending champion Jeremiah Azu ran a PR of 10.08 and led Hughes until the last few meters, losing only by 2 hundredths of a second. The pair and then stared each other down. https://twitter.com/i/status/1677718612054794242
There were excellent performances in the semis of the women’s 800 by Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie as by Laura Muir in the 1500. The men’s 800 and 1500 were also very competitive. Morgan Lake won the high jump for the eighth time – a great achievement but also an indication of a lack of serious competition.
Keely Hodgkinson and her fans, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
Twin sisters Lina and Laviai Nielsen each each reached the final – 200 flat and hurdles. Tip: don’t stand near Lina when her sister is competing. Keeping it in the family is the theme of the 100m hurdles, with Cindy Sember winning again, just like big sister Tiffany.
Lavaii Nelson, 400m hurdles, photo by Getty Images for Brit Athletics
Bizarrely two athletes were DQed for a false start – in the same 400m, And the women’s 3000m Steeplechase had only six athletes.
A mixed day of athletics and weather. Day 2 will have better weather and 23 finals.
Laura Muir, 1,500m, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics