This is Stuart Weir’s piece on the British Champs and Olympic Trials. 

Excellence, drama, and controversy in equal measure

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    As others are losing theirs and blaming it on you… 

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

Then you will be selected for Paris! (With apologies to Rudyard Kipling’s IF)

The second day of the British Athletics Championships and Olympic Trials had everything!

The early drama featured the men’s 3000m Steeplechase.  No British athlete had the qualifying time, so four of our best decided to collaborate, taking turns leading and potentially sacrificing their own best chance to see if one could at least hit the standard.  Phil Norman led on the last lap, winning in 8:18.65.  The Olympic standard is 8:18.50.

Phil Norman, A steeplers’ lament, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

Then there was Alistair Chambers, our best 400 hurdler, who, in the European Championships, ran well but fractionally outside the Olympic standard. On your marks, Bang, Bang.  Chambers had false-started.  He had a long discussion with an official, apparently arguing that he had been distracted by the stadium music. He opted to run under protest and finished in a championship record time of 48.54, falling over the line to finish under the Olympic standard, but would it count? He was reinstated and seemingly on his way to Paris. His comment: “Today has been very emotional, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Speaking with the officials, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

Matt Hudson-Smith won the 200 meters, which confirmed that he was in good form. He also commented about the strength of British males, who ran 200 meters when Zharnel was absent. Dina Asher-Smith won the women’s 200 comfortably in 22.18 (championship record) from Darryl Neita. It should be noted that Neita had run two rounds of the 100 (winning) the previous day while Asher-Smith was resting.

Lina Nielson wins 400m hurdles, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics.

There were strong feelings of sisterhood when Lina Nielsen won the 400 hurdles and twin sister Laviai came second in the 400 flat. This meant they would be in Paris together, running individual events and the relay. I’m sure that the inside story will soon be revealed on their YouTube channel.

The Nielsen Twins – YouTube

With the race won by Amber Anning (23) and Yemi Mary John (21) third, and Jodie Williams and Vikki Ohuruogu, both on the wrong side of 30, fifth, and sixth, it seemed a poignant moment for the older generation.

Divine Oladipo won the women’s discus with a throw of 54.78m and celebrated by taking third place in the shot put with 17.24m. I bet she’s kicking herself for not going in the javelin!

The women’s long jump was won by a heptathlete, Jade O’Dowda (6.55). Our three 7-meter jumpers were absent: Shara Proctor retired, Jazmin Sawyers was injured and out for the season, and Lorraine Ugen had not competed since last July.

When Josh Kerr decided to enter the 800m rather than the 1500m, which would be his event in Paris, he could never have anticipated the complications his decision would create. With Jake Wightman absent from the trials on a medical exemption and Neil Gourley and George Mills taking the 2 automatic places, Wightman (the 2022 World Champion) will not be running 1500 in Paris. (Had Kerr taken one of the automatic places and Mills and Gourley finished in the same order in the 1500m final, then Kerr and Gourley would have been selected with the third place seemingly between Wightman and Mills). Wightman’s only chance now is the discretionary place in the 800.

The fall, Elliot Giles and Josh Kerr fall on track, Brit 800m final, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

As the runners approached the finish line in the 800 final, it seemed to be between Ben Pattison, Max Burgin, and Elliott Giles, with Josh Kerr just behind. A clash of legs and Giles and Kerr were on the floor. The selectors will have to make the most challenging decision in their meeting in the coming days when deciding between Elliot Giles and Jake Wightman.

The women’s middle-distance races, which were also viewed compellingly, will be described in a separate post.