Molly Caudery (Scott Simpson; Thames Valley) produced one of the most impressive performances at a Microplus UK Athletics Indoor Championships in recent times as she retook the world lead in the women’s pole vault by soaring to a Championship record, personal best and national title in Birmingham.

Caudery, who was overtaken as world No.1 after New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney jumped 4.84m a week ago, grabbed it back in superb, historic style, leaping higher than she ever has done before, 4.85m, much to the delight of the Birmingham crowd. The UK title winning performance also confirmed her place at next month’s World Indoor Championships in Glasgow but that wasn’t the story.

Meanwhile, on a day where ten national titles were won, Jeremiah Azu, Cindy Sember and Tade Ojora all took impressive victories to secure their own places for Glasgow. Azu (Marco Airale; Cardiff) cruised to the men’s 60m crown for the first time in his career in 6.60 seconds.

Sember (Woodford Green Essex Ladies) was equally as impressive in the women’s 60m hurdles final, ducking under eight seconds to retain her title in 7.99 while Ojora (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow), on only his second national indoor championship appearance, ran a strong race in the men’s 60m hurdles final for gold in 7.62.

In between Azu, Sember, Ojora and Caudery securing world indoor places there were a flurry of finals with Amy Hunt (Marco Airale; Charnwood) winning the women’s 60m title for the first time since 2020. Kevin Santos (Michael Utting; City of Norwich) ran a personal best of 7.00 to win the men’s 60 para final while Olivia Breen (Aston Moore; City of Portsmouth) took the women’s 60m para event as she doubled up on the day.

Elsewhere in the field events, Owen Heard (Kate Rooney; Harrow) and Archie Yeo (Lukasz Zawila; Kingston upon Hill) won their first indoor UK titles in the men’s pole vault and triple jump respectively while in a dramatic late twist in the women’s long jump final, multi-eventer Jade O’Dowda (John Lane; Newham & Essex Beagles) claimed gold with her final jump.

Caudery entered the women’s pole vault final at 4.41m and duly cleared. Jade Ive (Sutton & District) and Jade Spencer-Smith (Richard Humby; Harrow) both also attempted the height but couldn’t surpass it as they claimed silver and bronze respectively via countback.

With victory secured and the runway to herself Caudery pushed the bar to 4.61m, clearing at the second attempt, before surpassing 4.75m with ease first time up. She then gave the passionate crowd what they wanted by attempting a world lead and personal best of 4.85m next.

After two failed attempts, Caudery sent the remaining crowd wild as she cleared 4.85m for the world lead and Championship record. She then pushed the bar even further to 4.91m but decided to leave it there after one missed attempt at the height.

She said: “It is amazing and almost overwhelming. I know I am in great shape, but it is still fantastic to execute on the day. You could hear a pin drop when I went for that last height. I have to trust my training and not do too much; just build that consistency.

“I need to re-evaluate my plans for the season as 4.80m was my target so I have already gone above and beyond so of course the British record will be amazing and probably my new target.

“At the Worlds the medal will be my focus. To get to Paris will be a dream come true.  Once I am there it will be medals of course but first it is to get on that runway.  Women’s pole vault internationally is amazing and in the UK too it has really come on. We are a great bunch and very supportive to each other.”

Coming into Birmingham Azu had never won a UK indoor 60m title but nothing was going to stop him. Professional all day, in the final he surged out of the blocks and powered through to put daylight between him in gold and Andrew Robertson (Sale Harriers Manchester), who secured silver.

Azu clocked 6.60 and, having already hit the World Indoor Championship standard with a run of 6.57 at the start of the month, he is off to Glasgow next month. Robertson posted 6.68 for silver while Ojie Edoburun (Stuart McMillan; Enfield & Haringey) battled to bronze in 6.71.

Azu, the UK outdoor champion over 100m from 2022, said: “My goal was to get the win and the time for the worlds. I am glad I did that but I will need to go quicker to reach the final in the worlds. Next Friday I race in Berlin then back home for a few days before Glasgow.

“Of course for outdoors my target is to run sub-10.  I ran 10.04 last year but I really want to get into that exclusive club of sub-10 this year and I think I can.  My main goal is to make the British team then make the final in Paris.”

One Glasgow qualifier became two moments later as Sember completed a great day with victory in the women’s 60m hurdles final. Sember ducked under eight seconds after a fine run, cruising to gold in 7.99, her second quickest time this year.

Abigail Pawlett (Ashley Bryant; Trafford) claimed silver in 8.24 while Jessica Hunter (Laura Turner-Alleyne; Shaftesbury Barnet) took bronze in 8.27 with Sember retaining her title and now set for Glasgow. She said: “I feel very pleased with two sub-eight’s in one afternoon.

“I am hoping I can improve my start in Glasgow and then I will be competitive and in the mix up there.  I hope to make the final and medal of course.”

The Glasgow qualifiers streamed through as Ojora made certain of his place in the men’s 60m hurdles final. Heading into Birmingham having opened his campaign by surpassing the qualifying standard for the World Indoor Championships after posting 7.59 in Torun, Ojora won in 7.62.

Last year’s champion David King (Tim O’Neil; City of Plymouth) pushed Ojora all the way but was a narrow second in 7.65 while Daniel Goriola (Tony Jarrett; Blackheath & Bromley) took bronze in 7.87. Ojora said: “I have been experimenting with the stride length to the first hurdle so I am very happy to have come here and taken the win. I go into every race with confidence and knowing I can win.

“My target this year of course is to make the team for the Euro Champs and then Paris but getting that secured at the British Champs is no easy ride.”

Hunt regained the women’s 60m title she first won back in 2020 with a strong performance in the final in Birmingham. She reeled in Bianca Williams (Linford Christie; Thames Valley), who shot out of the blocks with a superb start to lay down the challenge, to take gold in 7.26.

Williams claimed silver in 7.30 while 17-year-old Mabel Akande (Denise Timmis; Lincoln Wellington), one of three teenagers in the final, powered to bronze in 7.32. Hunt, who ran a season’s best 7.24 in the semi-finals, said: “The race was very messy so I am very glad to have got through it.

“I have had a couple of years out after surgery so I am really just getting back to race practice. The 60 isn’t my main event so to be winning here is a real positive.”

The first track final of the day brought drama as Breen won the women’s 60m para final by the width of her vest ahead of Madeline Down (Mike Bennett; Halesowen). A multi-classification race, Breen clocked 8.22 for victory, just 0.02 in front of 16-year-old Down.

Down’s time of 8.24 was a huge personal best while third was also secured in a career best with Rebecca Scott (Paul Keeble; Stevenage & North Herts) posting 8.49. Breen was busy on the day as she squeezed her 60m in between her efforts in the women’s long jump final, where she registered a best of 4.69m.

Breen said: “It was a good battle between me and Maddie.  It is great to have the Para events here so I really wanted to compete although it was hard with the long jump going at the same time.

I have had a really good block of winter training and it is a huge year ahead so we need to be on our game.  It has been a very positive start to the season after being injured last year so I am very excited going forward.”

The men’s 60m para final was a thrilling repeat of last year’s final with Santos and Zac Shaw (Leon Baptiste; Cleethorpes) going head-to-head. Santos just got the better of his rival once again as the pair fought to the line, his winning time a personal best 7.00 as he secured successive titles.

Shaw clocked a season’s best 7.04 for silver while Zak Skinner (Moore; Birchfield Harriers) battled to complete the podium with bronze in 7.22. A delighted Santos said: “My race plan was to concentrate on the first seven steps, which I have been working on a lot.  I was really looking for sub-seven seconds but I got the British record so I’m pleased with that.”

The women’s long jump final provided plenty of late drama as Commonwealth Games heptathlon bronze medallist O’Dowda denied Molly Palmer (Lukasz Zawila; Thames Valley) gold. O’Dowda leapt one centimetre further in the final round, posting 6.19m, with Palmer, who had by that point also been overtaken by Cleo Martin-Evans (Julian Reid; Daventry), unable to respond. The podium read O’Dowda gold with 6.19m, Palmer silver and Martin-Evans bronze.

In the first field final of the day, Heard claimed his first UK pole vault title with a best effort of 5.26m. Heard, who finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games in the Second City in 2022, was one of three to advance over 5.16m.

However, as Lazarus Benjamin (Sale Harriers Manchester) and Thomas Walley (Andy Ashurst; Wrexham) both failed to better what would be another personal best height indoors ‒ they both achieved career bests with 5.16m ‒ Heard did clear 5.26m.

He did so at the first time of asking before 5.41m became too steep, with Benjamin taking silver and Walley bronze behind him on countback. Heard said: “It wasn’t the height I wanted but I am super happy to be able to say I am the UK Champion.

“I am really hoping to jump 50 plus [5.50m] this summer outdoors. In the back of my mind are the big majors, potentially Paris and the Euros so, of course, I’d have to jump a lot higher, but it is always the aim and not impossible.”

In the second field final of the day, the men’s triple jump, Yeo followed in Heard’s footsteps as he also claimed his first UK title. Yeo took command of the competition with a third-round leap of 15.55m, with that indoor personal best not being bettered.

Seun Okome (Keith Hunter; Sale Harriers Manchester) claimed silver with a best of 15.36m while Daniel Akinradewo (Tom Cullen; Trafford) snatched bronze with a last-effort attempt of 15.19m.

Yeo said: “You always want more as an athlete but it is what you do on the day and the medal was the goal today. It’s a lifetime PB indoors so I can’t complain with that. Moving outdoors I’d like to win the British title there as well.”

Jemma Reekie (Jon Bigg; Kilbarchan) was the standout performer in the events which span both days at these Championships, cruising to the women’s 800m final as the quickest qualifier after clocking 2:06.21 minutes to win the first of three heats.

Reekie has her sights set on a maiden major senior medal at the Glasgow World Indoor Championships next month but first is tackling Birmingham, and she looked in good form as she ranked 0.06 ahead of heat three winner Erin Wallace (Trevor Painter; Giffnock North).

It’s set to be a stacked final with international regulars Ellie Baker (Bigg; Brighton), who won the 1500m at this event last year, and Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn; Enfield & Haringey) both advancing, the latter winning the second heat.

In the men’s 800m, Guy Learmonth (Lasswade) is in pole position as he attempts to secure successive UK indoor titles, the defending champion almost a full second quicker than the rest after he won the third of three heats in 1:48.78 minutes.

Learmonth regained the title at this very track last year and he has an iron-like grip on keeping it after the heats, which saw two of the six qualifiers run indoor personal bests, David Race (Kyle Bennett; Gateshead), who was second in that third heat in 1:49.65, and Dominic Walton (John Wood; Blackburn), who won the opener in 1:49.78.

The women’s 400m final on day two will be another stacked race after Laviai Nielsen (Tony Lester; Enfield & Haringey), Lina Nielsen (Lester; Shaftesbury Barnet) and Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong; WSEH) all won their semi-finals. Nicole Yeargin (Pitreavie), a world 4x400m relay bronze medallist alongside Laviai Nielsen last year, also made it through to the final.

Meanwhile Lee Thompson (John Henson; Sheffield & Dearne) was the fastest qualifier into the men’s 400m final as he bids to win the UK indoor title for the first time since 2018. He clocked 46.65 to win the first semi-final, club mate Ben Higgins (Stewart Higgins; Sheffield & Dearne) the next quickest after winning the second in 47.08.

Silver medallist in the mile from the World Athletics Road Running Championships back in October Callum Elson (Cambridge & Coleridge) laid down a marker in the men’s 1500m heats.

He advanced to the final as the fastest qualifier in 3:46.15, pulling Joseph Tuffin (Jethro McGraw; BRAT) with him as he was second overall 3:46.39. Adam Fogg (Coventry) won the second heat in 3:46.64 but four of the top five fastest were from the first heat.

The women’s 1500m heats concluded the day’s action on the track with in-form Georgia Bell (Painter; Belgrave) the fastest qualifier. She posted 4:17.39 in the second of the two heats with Ellie Leather (Jason Michael; Team Bath) second overall from the same race in 4:18.50 before heat one winner Revee Walcott Nolan (Luton) coming third fastest ranked with 4:18.56.

Results from day one available on this link.

photo Getty Images for UK Athletics