Club statistician Paul Ingrouille is getting more used to updating Track & Field records in the month of January after two successful years of early season indoor running from Guernsey athletes. However he surely wouldn’t have expected to be addressing a woman’s senior record for the 3,000m at this stage.
Sarah Mercier was on the line for a specially arranged “3k” at Manchester’s Sports City arena in what was her first experience of indoor athletics. It was a remarkable debut and demonstrated that Mercier is serious in her aims of attaining qualification for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast.
Mercier’s time of 9:33.41 was enough to claim 7th place in a classy field – and it beat her previous best of 9:35.64 which she posted in taking the South of England title in 2015. Recording record figures so early in January suggests she may be sharper now than she was for the majority of 2016 and will certainly be a confidence booster for the season goal of Commonwealth qualification. She will now head to the EIS indoor facility in Sheffield in two weeks for the British Indoor Championships.
She will be joining Kylie Robilliard and Cameron Chalmers at the national championships. The latter was in Glasgow on Saturday to attempt to defend his Scottish indoor 400m title that he won in a hugely successful 2016 season. He had a much tougher assignment in 2017 as Great Britain international Jamie Bowie was lining up outside him in the final, determined to put on a show in his national champs.
Bowie went out hard and Chalmers kept calm and tracked the Scotsman for the majority of the race. Coming off the final bend, he ran wide and was only able to ease ahead of Bowie with metres to spare, taking the title again in an indoor PB of 47.23sec, a couple of tenths ahead of Bowie.
The time means he can go into the British Champs as a strong favourite to win a medal for the second consecutive year.
In Sheffield, a contingent of six athletes competed in the Sheffield Festival Indoor Open. Sophie Porter led the headlines as she claimed yet another U17 record, this time the 400m. Taking second place in her race, she was the fastest U17 woman on display as she comfortably beat her previous best and snuck inside the mark set by Indi Gallagher at last summer’s Intertrust Athletics Games. Her time of 58.50sec beat the previous record by 0.19sec and suggests there is more to come from the youngster who is aiming for glory at the English Schools Champs in the summer.
Porter’s next competition will take her to Birmingham in three weeks’ time.
It was actually a 1-2 for Guernsey in the U17W 400m as 15 year old Amelia Lees debuted in the event after moving up from U15. She came third in her race but second in the U17W category with 60.26sec – a superb effort for the youngster who had placed a lot of importance on the event in order to confirm herself in the reckoning for a seat on the plane to the Island Games in Gotland in June. It would seem she certainly has a good chance on the evidence of that performance. She too will be looking to produce the goods again in Birmingham in three weeks.
Former Island 400m record holder Dale Garland was in action in the 400m at the other end of the age scale – and was pleased to post 50.26sec for his opening race – suggesting heading back under 50sec should be a matter of time.
Becca Toll was the first of the young Guernsey women to step onto the track in Sheffield as she contested the 800m. She encountered some traffic during the four lap race but still posted 2:25.81 to claim the gold medal for the U20W category.
Lucas Rive and Joe Chadwick faced each other in the high jump – and it was the former who won out as he cleared 1.75m to equal his outdoor best. Chadwick had to be content with 1.70m which was down on the highs of last summer. He was however able to turn the tables as both men contested the 200m – Chadwick posting a big PB of 23.40sec to Rive’s 23.96.