Image: British Athletics

Sophie McKinna (coach: Mike Winch; club: Great Yarmouth) improved her shot put indoor personal best, Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne; Andover) moved third on the European indoor pentathlon rankings and Joe Brier (Matt Elias; Swansea) and James Williams (Paul Waters; Liverpool) hit the European Indoor 400m qualifying standard on the second day of action at the British Athletics European Indoor Selection Trial Events in Loughborough and Manchester.

In Manchester, Mills was the star of the show on the track and in the field events, posting a personal best score of 4557 points, including two personal best event scores, to win the women’s pentathlon, moving third on the 2021 European rankings and up to fifth on the UK all-time list.

Mills kicked off the day with victory in the 60m hurdles in 8.22s, one hundredth outside her PB, before an eight-centimetre season’s best in the high jump of 1.73m was followed by a huge 70cm shot put PB of 14.03m, moving her 143 points clear after three events.

A 6.02m best in the long jump helped maintain her lead at the top of the standings before she rounded off her competition with a 2:12.07 lifetime best over 800m to secure victory by nearly 300 points.

After the long day of competition, Mills said: “The hurdles was 0.01 off my PB which I set last weekend so between this year and last year I’ve brought it down two tenths. It’s amazing but we still know there is more there. The high jump it was five centimetres off my PB, but we’ve changed so much with my high jump technique I’m pleased with that. It was a big improvement on last week.

“Probably the highlight of my day was the shot put where I threw 14.03m which is my first time over 14 metres. Last weekend I threw 13.33 metres and that was my first throw over 13m. There has been a lot of work behind that. It has been a long time coming.

“The 800m was very painful – I got lactic on lap two and I was just telling myself ‘hold on!’ It came through as a PB. There are quite a few PBs in there altogether. I know I’m in shape, so it could be better, but it is very exciting.

“Coming into this event we were aiming to get over 4400 points, so to get over 4500 is exceeding our expectations. Me and my coach (Laura Turner-Alleyne) are so happy. Hopefully I’ll be at the Europeans in a couple of weeks to add some more points to that tally.”

Jade O’Dowda (Toni Minichiello; Newham & Essex Beagles) claimed second position and moved to tenth on the all-time British rankings with a lifetime best score of 4262 points, including three personal bests.

O’Dowda smashed her 60m hurdles PB by nearly two tenths of a second clocking 8.59s, before matching her lifetime best in the high jump with a 1.76m clearance, the best of all competitors. An 18cm improvement to 12.56m saw her shot put PB fall, before rounding off her afternoon with a near four second 800m improvement to 2:15.68.

Ellen Barber (David Feeney; Yeovil) took third place overall with lifetime best score of 4169, with personal marks in the 60m hurdles, high jump and 800m. Katie Stainton (David Feeney; Birchfield) unfortunately withdrew after picking up an injury in the high jump, having earlier set a PB of 8.61s in the hurdles.

On the track, the men’s 400m saw 2019 European Under-23 Championship 4x400m silver medallist Joe Brier and reigning British indoor 400m champion James Williams join Lee Thompson (John Henson; Sheffield & Dearne) in achieving the European Indoor standard, shattering their indoor PBs in the process.

In the men’s ‘B’ final, Williams left it late to surge beyond Thompson and claim victory in 46.60s, a 0.64s improvement on his lifetime best, with Thompson shaving another seven hundredths off his season’s best for second in 46.65s.

In the ‘A’ final, Welshman Brier produced an excellent gun to tape victory, powering his way to the standard in 46.81s, holding off training partner Owen Smith (Matt Elias; Cardiff) and bagging himself a third consecutive indoor personal best in a row in the process.

Starting in lane four, Brier ensured he took the bell heading the four-man field before turning on the afterburners in the home straight and securing himself his first ever senior standard, with Smith battling to second spot in a season’s best 47.40s.

After winning, Brier said: “That’s probably the first race this year I’ve committed to, I wanted to get out, get to the front and control it from there. I gave it everything down the home straight and I came away with a standard for the European Indoors so I’m well chuffed with that.

“Me and my coach [Matt Elias] had a chat this morning about tactics and what might happen. At the end of the day you can only concentrate on yourself and my plan was to go out there, get to the front and really control the first 200m, open up on the backstraight and finish strong.

“I’m on cloud nine at the moment, I’ve never hit a standard like that before and it’s my first senior standard so I’m really chuffed.”

Chris McAlister (Marina Armstrong; Thames Valley) and Niclas Baker (Piotr Spas; Crawley) finished third and fourth in the B final in 48.25s and 49.02s respectively, with Efe Okoro and Thomas Somers rounding out the A final in 47.49s and 47.55s respectively.

It all came down the final moments in the women’s 400m final as Jodie Williams (Stuart McMillan; Herts Phoenix) produced a late surge to get the better of Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow), clocking 52.27s for victory to Knight’s 52.38s.

At the break, Williams found herself trailing to Knight but dug in and produced an excellent final lap to pass Knight in the closing stages and hold on for an important victory, with Amy Hillyard (Stewart Marshall; Birchfield) third in 53.92s.

After the race, Williams, who improved her indoor PB once again, said: “That was different to yesterday and for me. The last few races I’ve been first to the break so as soon as she [Jessie] came round me I thought ‘just hold on and hope for the best’ and it paid off so I’m happy.

“I knew that the top bend was where I needed to attack, I was never going to get her (Jessie) round there and I focused on staying close enough so that i could come round the top and do everything I could.

“I’m not enjoying this distance, but I love a challenge. It’s something new for me and in that sense, I’m enjoying it but it’s a rough distance. That was a big leap up again, so we aim to keep improving every time.”

Ama Pipi (Linford Christie; Enfield & Haringey), who yesterday dipped inside the qualifying standard with a 52.9ss run, won the ‘B’ final in 53.05s, beating European number five Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna; Thames Valley), who took second in 53.43s. Yasmin Liverpool (Stewart Marshall; Coventry Godiva) was third in an indoor best of 53.59s, with Holly Turner (Stephen King; Crawley) fourth in 56.06s.

In the distance events, Guy Learmonth (Justin Rinaldi; Lasswade) secured a fourth consecutive European Indoor Championship 800m standard as he won in 1:47.81. The Scotsman kept his cool to take the win from 2019 European U20 Championship 800m silver medallist Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan; Basingstoke & Mid Hants) and Alex Botterill (Andy Henderson; City of York), who clocked 1:50.02 and 1:51.51 respectively.

Over 1500m, British indoor champion Holly Archer (Andrew Parmenter; Cambridge & Coleridge) backed up her personal best and European Indoor qualifying standard last week of 4:10.03, with a last-gasp victory, “boomeranging” off the final bend to win in 4:13.02.

Heading into the final lap at Sportcity, Archer found herself behind Katie Snowden (Dan Stepney; Herne Hill) and Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet), but dug in and found space on the outside to pass both and secure herself victory by 0.14s from Snowden, with Baker third in 4:13.66, a 1500m PB.

Piers Copeland (Bob Smith; Wimborne) continued on his upward trajectory with a measured victory in the men’s event, clocking 3:52.17 for victory. In a cagey affair, it was Copeland who had the clinical edge when it mattered most, kicking away in the final 50m to take the win from Archie Davis (Joel Kidger; Brighton Phoenix) and George Mills (Jon Bigg; Brighton Phoenix) in 3:52.94 and 3:53.12 respectively.

In the first women’s track action of the day, Megan Marrs (Alex Nwenwu; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) continued her good form as she took back-to-back victories in the women’s 60m hurdles.

In the first of two rounds, which was shared with the pentathlon field, Marrs flew to victory with a 8.21s showing, with Heather Paton (Benke Blomkvist; Birchfield) recording 8.36s. Paton improved in the second round to a season’s best 8.31s but could not do enough to edge out Marrs, who claimed her second victory of the day in 8.26s.

In the men’s heptathlon, Andrew Murphy (Colin Sinclair; Kilbarchan) rounded off his competition with a final score of 4559, including two season’s bests on the final day of competition.

Entering day two with 2204 points to his name – down on his usually tally at this stage due to no points in the shot put – the Scottish athlete kicked things off with a 8.45s clocking in the 60m hurdles, followed by a season’s best of 4.50m in the pole vault, with first time clearances at each height, up to three failures at 4.60m. He rounded off his two-day competition in Manchester with a season’s best 2:48.36 over 1000m, adding to 60m and long jump season’s bests from day one.

In the field events in Loughborough, Sophie McKinna shattered her indoor shot put PB for the second competition running and strengthened her grip on the third all-time British best mark with an 18.54m effort to take victory in Loughborough.

The reigning British outdoor champion unleashed the effort in the second round of the competition, bagging her second qualifying standard of the indoor season and taking victory by more than a metre from Amelia Strickler (Zane Duquemin; Thames Valley), who notched a season’s best of 17.26m in the fifth round.

Speaking after the event, McKinna said: “It was okay; it’s an indoor PB for me. I feel like there was much more there as I didn’t quite get it through so there are lots of positive to take and lots to go away and work on before the European Indoors. So overall it’s been a relatively good day.

“Without the fans, friends and family watching obviously for me makes a big difference but we have to be grateful and you know we’re really privileged to be able to compete. This is a privilege, to be able to throw and British Athletics have put on a really good event.

“I’ve got a couple weeks of training now and then hopefully, if I get selected tomorrow, going to the European Indoors. I’d like to put on a good show and challenge for a medal there.”

Adele Nicoll (Birchfield) took third spot with a 15.61m effort, with Serena Vincent (Bronwin Carter/Andrew Vincent; City of Portsmouth) fourth with 15.19m and World Para Athletics F20 shot put champion Sabrina Fortune (Ian Robinson; Deeside) was fifth with a best of 13.09m, her second best indoor throw.

Fortune added: “Today was an amazing experience, especially with lockdown having not been able to throw. So, to be here and to be able to throw is really heart-warming. I was just so excited. I feel so bouncy, I am just so happy.

“The throws weren’t bad they went up and that’s the main thing. It just kept going up and up and up. I wanted 14 but you can’t always do it. Plus, I haven’t been able to throw for such a long time, it’s just an amazing experience to get to throw it and see the distance.”

In the men’s event, Scott Lincoln (Paul Wilson; City of York) saved his best until last to take the spoils courtesy of a 19.93m best effort. The City of York man put together a consistent series that saw only one foul and of his five legal efforts, all were above 19.25m. His final round effort was just 14cm shy of his season’s best 20.07m, set last weekend. George Hyde (David McKay; Harrow) claimed second spot with a 16.22m season’s best, coming in round three.

Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake; WSEH) produced her best jump for two years as she cleared a season’s best 1.93m at the third time of asking.

Entering at 1.83m, Lake showed a clean card to 1.90m, where she required a second time clearance to progress. Having twice failed at 1.93m her third jump proved to be right on the money, before three attempts at the Olympic and European qualifying mark of 1.96m saw her bow out.

After the event, Lake assessed: “I was just trying to build on what I did last weekend, so I am really happy with that. My aim was just to be happy, have fun and enjoy it. Ideally, I wanted to get back into the 90s, so I am happy I have.

“It was so close to both European and Olympic qualifier and I had a few attempts at it. I am happy and hopefully it will come in a few weeks. With Europeans we’re just going to have to wait and see. It depends on rankings at the moment, so we’ll just have to see.

“I am really happy with how winter training has gone, and this is only my second competition so it’s nice to show what I have been working on and put on a good performance.”

Emily Borthwick (Fuzz Caan; Wigan & District) added three centimetres onto her lifetime best with a 1.87m clearance for second place, with Laura Zialor (Jade Surman; Marshall Milton Keynes) third with a 1.75m best.

In the men’s event, it was Joel Khan (Deirdre Elmhirst; Worcester) who emerged victorious with a lifetime best 2.23m effort, adding three centimetres onto his previous best. Khan almost bowed out at 2.13m, but a third time clearance ensured his continuation in Loughborough.

The 22-year-old only needed one attempt to get over 2.23m, before coming close to clearing the European Indoor qualifying mark of 2.26m. Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft; Sale Harriers Manchester) posted three first time clearances but finished with a best effort of 2.17m following three failures at 2.20m, with Will Grimsey (Fuzz Caan; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) third, clearing the same height for a season’s best.

Having recorded his best jump since 2017 last weekend in Loughborough of 2.12m, World Para Athletics T64 high jump champion Jonathan Broom-Edwards (Graham Ravenscroft; Newham & Essex Beagles) finished with a best of 2.04m for fourth, with Kelechi Aguocha (Fuzz Caan; Blackheath & Bromley) fifth, matching Broom-Edwards’ best.

In the men’s pole vault, Charlie Myers (Chris Boundy; Birtley) finished with a best effort of 5.52m as the only competitor in the men’s event. After a second time clearance at 5.32m and a third time clearance at 5.52m, the Birtley athlete came mightily close to clearing the 5.72m qualifying mark for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Torun, only for the bar to come down.

Natalie Hooper (Henrietta Paxton; Birchfield) was just five centimetres away from her lifetime best set last weekend in Loughborough as she took victory in the women’s event with a 4.15m clearance. Hooper sailed over 4.15m at the first time of asking to take the win, before three failures at a personal best mark of 4.25m put an end to her competition.

Defending British indoor champion Sophie Cook (Scott Simpson; Halesowen) was second courtesy of a 4.05m opening clearance. Sophie Ashurst (Andy Ashurst; Sale Harriers Manchester) took third with a season’s best 3.85m, while Courtney MacGuire (Scott Simpson; Edinburgh AC) came fourth with a 3.75m best effort.

Results from Manchester day two: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/man-results/

Results from Loughborough: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/lboro-results/