There was joy, despair and intense drama on the third and final day of the Aviva UK Championships and Olympic Trials in Birmingham with two Scots Eilidh Child (Pitreavie) and Eilish McColgan (Dundee Hawkhill) clinching their dream tickets to London 2012 and three more retaining hopes of joining them.
A stumble at the final tenth hurdle cost Child victory in the 400 metres hurdles after she had led for the entire race but for once the defeat, to her great rival Perri Shakes-Drayton, did not matter.
“I thought I had it and maybe switched off but I’m happy as I secured that second place,” said the 24-year-old Edinburgh University graduate, who was second by 0.08 seconds in 55.53.
“My coach Malcolm Arnold told me top two was all I needed and I got it right when it mattered.”
McColgan finished strongly to win the 3000m steeplechase in 9:56.89 and with the A standard already secured goes straight into the team while Capital star Emily Stewart, in only her third race in the event, grabbed a worthy bronze in 10:02.85 just behind former UK No. 1 Hatti Archer-Dean.
“I felt very comfortable but didn’t want to push too hard with so many big names there,” said the 20-year-old Edinburgh University maths student. “I was hoping for a medal but thought I’d probably get fourth or fifth.”
In all, the Scots won two gold medals, three silver and four bronze but for once these medals were very definitely not the bench-mark for success.
Even if she does not manage to achieve the coveted UK Athletics A standard for the individual 400m at the European Championships in Helsinki later this week, Lee McConnell, who was third behind Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu and Shana Cox in the sluggish time of 53.05, should make her third Olympics by being named the 4x400m relay squad.
Capital star Lynsey Sharp, a woman with one of the best pedigrees in British athletics, leaves for Helsinki today after a sensational win in Saturday’s 800m. The 21-year-old Edinburgh AC runner, whose father Cameron was a European 200m silver medallist and mother Carol a British 800m internationalist, came from 15 metres down in fifth place on the back straight to overtake the pack coming off the final bend. They included the favourite Marilyn Okoro, who led at the bell in a suicidal 56.85 but faded to fifth, and two more sub two-minute athletes Jemma Simpson, who was second, and Emma Jackson who was seventh.
Sharp’s time was 2:01.72, similar to that she has run on several occasions this season and another B qualifying standard. She now needs to achieve the A standard of 1:59.90 to clinch her Olympic place.
“I can’t really take this in,” said Sharp. “I knew I was in with a chance and everyone was telling me: you can win this – and I did.”
Former Capital hammer-thrower Mark Dry also goes to Helsinki to try to boost his chance of being the only hammer-thrower selected after yesterday finishing a controversial runner-up to Alex Smith.
Scottish champion Dry, who like Smith has the B standard of 74m, almost hit the 75m line with his fifth effort which would have taken the lead but was ruled a no-throw much to the Morayshire-reared man’s disgust.
Smith then increased his lead with a final round throw of 74.79m and Dry was unable to respond, but he had shown sufficient awareness to appeal the no-throw and after video scrutiny that decision was overturned and he was able to claim another B standard 74.32m.
“Absolutely I’m annoyed,” said Dry. “Apparently they thought it was a foot fault. It wouldn’t have won the competition but at the time it would have taken the lead.
“I’m going to Helsinki and Alex needs another B standard as he’s only got one and I’ve done it five times.”
Another Edinburgh AC member with a point to prove, Chris O’Hare, grabbed a bronze in the 1500m with a great run to finish close behind two Olympic Englishmen, Andy Baddeley, and Ross Murray.
O’Hare, who has the Olympic B standard, is upset not to have been named for this week’s European Championships where he might have clinched the A time: “I was very disappointed when the team came out. I felt let down by my governing body,” said the US Indoor College champion, whose Capital clubmate Kris Gauson, another US-based Scot, went out in the heats on Friday night.
Former EAC decathlete Gregor MacLean (Montrose), who shared a silver medal in the pole vault, broke his own Scottish record with a leap of 5.35m and looks a fine prospect for Glasgow 2014 while Kirsty Law was the other medallist with a bronze in the discus.
The women’s high jump was a let-down for Edinburgh’s Emma Nuttall and Jayne Nisbet. Nuttall cleared 1.81m to lose out on the bronze medal on countback to Emma Perkins, while Nisbet cleared a token 1.67m before withdrawing to reveal she had picked up an injury in training the previous week.
Another injury victim was Freya Murray (EAC), who, despite having the marathon Olympic qualifying standard, may not get to the Games. She withdrew from the 5000m suffering from inflammation of a joint. “It wasn’t worth risking it,” she said.
Guy Learmonth (Lasswade), who had at least three collisions in a bumpy race, had no excuses for finishing fifth in 1;48.99 in the 800m won by favourite Andrew Osagie (Harlow) in 1:46.89. “I came in ranked fifth or sixth so I can’t complain finishing fifth in the Olympic Trial. I can’t give these guys five or ten metres and expect to win,” said the chastened Loughborough University student.