Top athletes from Coventry and
Rugby face an anxious wait to see if they will be going to the Olympic
Games after mixed results at the weekend’s trials.
All of the Sydney hopefuls
from the two clubs put in good performances at Birmingham’s
Alexander Stadium, but none quite managed to clinch an automatic spot
on the plane.
Coventry Godiva Harrier’s Jo
Wise and Rugby AC’s Jo Jennings-Steele had the most success, as they
won the women’s long jump and high jump respectively.
But the pair both came in
slightly under the mark set as the Olympic qualifying standard. If
either of them can find the extra centimetres necessary at a
competition in the next week then they will get in the team by right.
Wise, who has had another
season hit by injury, pulled out a jump of 6.44m in the dying stages
of the competition to win gold. She now has to jump 6.65m before the
team is finalised next week.
Jo Jennings-Steele, competing
on Saturday, beat off a host of challengers to win the high jump with
1.91m – 2cm short of the Olympic qualifying height. If she can make
the grade it would be a new personal best for her.
Coventry sprinter Marlon
Devonish must also wait to see if he is going to Sydney. He eased past
the qualifying time in winning his semi-final, but was given a fairly
tough lane draw for the final, running in lane three.
In drizzling conditions that
didn’t help the sprinters or the jumpers find top form, Devonish was
beaten into third place by Darren Campbell, who moved up from the 100m
to score a surprise gold, and Christian Malcolm.
Only the athletes who finished
in the first two places are guaranteed a place in the GB team. The
third place is down to the selectors.
If Campbell opts to take his
place in the 200m it will leave the selectors with a tricky decision.
Devonish has shown consistent form, but Julian Golding, who had an
abysmal race in his semi-final, has won medals and also has made the
qualifying mark this year.
Another Coventry athlete
hoping to find a little extra something in the next week is 800m
runner Andy Hart.
He pushed winner James McIlroy
all the way to the line, finishing in second place, but is short of
the qualifying time, and needs to take several seconds off
yesterday’s 1m 50:09.
Clare Raven of Coventry also
came home in second place in the 800m behind a resurgent Kelly Holmes,
but needs to take five seconds off her time of 2m 05.12 to qualify.
Katharine Merry, who is from
Rugby, should be given the discretionary third place in the 400m after
pulling out of this weekend’s trials, which were also the AAA
championship, as she is easily the best female British sprinter.
It was disappointing that the
few big names in the women’s events didn’t appear, and the long
jump in particular would have benefited from an appearance by Ashia
Hansen and Denise Lewis.
The strength in depth in the
men’s sprints attracts the crowds, but there was support for all the
athletes to do well in the race against the clock.
There’s always a lot going
on at the athletics, and the large crowd was kept occupied by the
field events going on all over stadium.
Even if some of the contests
lacked a big name or genuinely classy distances, there was a keen
interest, and the audience was always quick to spot and appreciate a
good throw or jump.
Athletics is becoming more and
more popular, and even if the seats get uncomfortable after a few
hours, it makes for excellent entertainment.
Now Coventry’s athletes must
try and stretch a little bit further to make the leap from respected
domestic athletes into international representatives.