Sanders 50.6, Pickering 6.58

Pickering continues to impress, 400m world lead for Sanders - UK championships report

Sunday 11 February 2007

Sheffield, UK – There was a change in the order of British sprinting at the UK indoor trials this weekend (10-11) when Craig Pickering confirmed his new-found status as the British number one over 60m by comprehensively beating his training partner, and the five-time UK champion, Jason Gardener.

Pickering’s momentum continues

It was the third time in as many weeks that Pickering has got the better of his 31-year-old mentor and formed the climax of a weekend in which a number of British athletes put themselves in the frame for European Indoor championship medals in three weeks time.

The form book suggested it was always going to be between Pickering and Gardener for the men’s 60m title, but Gardener had one of those races he will want to forget. Left for dead in the final by a uncharacteristically terrible start he never made up the ground and finished seventh, while Pickering kept his nerve to win in 6.58.
It says much for the 20-year-old’s growing maturity that he was not completely happy with his display.

“I came here to get the job done – to finish in the top two and qualify for the Europeans,” he said. “I’ve done that. But to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed not to set another PB – it’s the first weekend this winter I’ve not done that.”

Pickering also had words of encouragement for his training partner who, understandably, was downhearted with his performance. “I’m sorry for Jason but he will be back. For me, there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Ironically, it was another man from the Malcolm Arnold sprinting school – Ryan Scott – who stole in to take second in 6.64, his second PB of the day.

Gardener had the better of the opening heats, posting 6.63, the fastest time of the round and 0.05s quicker than Pickering. But the youngster laid down the gauntlet in the semis, winning his race in 6.58 despite a sluggish start, while Gardener was 0.01 slower than his earlier time.

Mark Lewis Francis was a casualty of the three semis. The former world junior 100m champion finished fourth behind Pickering in a heavy-looking 6.76 and did not make the final.

But Gardener, a former world indoor champion who’s renowned for starting well under pressure, fell far short of world-beating form this time.

“I don’t know what went wrong with that one,” he said. “Once I’ve had a chance to think about it, it might become clearer.”

The two are due to face each other again next week, at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham, when Gardener will need to improve – only the first two in these trials are guaranteed a place in the British team. “I have run 6.58 and 6.59 this year so I’m still the second fastest in Britain,” he said. “Let’s see what happens in Birmingham.”

50.60 World lead for Sanders

As so often, the championships had all been set up for the men’s 60m to be the highlight of the weekend. It did bring the event to a thrilling climax, but the highlight performance came earlier in the afternoon when 400m runner Nicola Sanders clocked the fastest time in the world this year. The 24-year-old former hurdler blasted away from the field to win the two-lap final by more than 10 metres in 50.60.

Sanders went through at the bell in 24.16 and held her form to break the stadium record she set here last year by 0.12s, and miss the UK national record set by Katherine Merry six years ago by just 0.07s.

“Fastest time in the world, that does sound good,” said Sanders. “I am really pleased with that. It was my first race of the season and I didn’t have an idea of what I could run. I knew I was in good shape but I didn’t know it was that good.”

However, Sanders added that her place to the top of the world rankings may not be enough to persuade her to run at the European indoors. “I will run in Birmingham next weekend,” she said, referring to the Grand Prix. “But I need to talk to my coach before I decide whether to run the Europeans. I have to think about what’s best for my outdoor season.”

Okoro, Meadows optimistic for European indoor championships

Two athletes who will definitely be at the championships are 800m runners Marilyn Okoro and Jenny Meadows. They battled out one of the hottest contests of the weekend with Okoro winning by a dip at the line in 2:04.39 after a slow first 400m, just 0.01 ahead of her friend.

“I can’t wait for the Europeans,” she said. “All we have to do is get to the final and see what happens from there.”

“The Russians don’t seem to be going too well at the moment and you can’t often say that,” added Meadows. “So it looks good for the Europeans.”

7.56 European 60m Hurdles lead for Turner

It’s also looking good for 60m hurdler Andy Turner who twice lowered his pb today and won the final in 7.56, the fastest time by a European this year. Turner’s time puts him equal fourth on the UK all-time list with Jon Ridgeon, who was on hand to interview him after the race.

“Every race seems to be getting quicker and quicker,” said Turner, who had also clocked 7.59 in his heat. “The fastest in Europe! I think that means I can win this thing.”

Triple jumper Nathan Douglas also leapt to the top of the European lists with a first attempt of 17.19m, his furthest ever indoors.

Although he then withdrew to protect an injury, it was enough to beat Commonwealth champion Phillips Idowu who also pulled out after the first round. Idowu did enough to take second with a leap of 16.68m before with drawing with of an “uncomfortable heel”.

Indoor PB for Farah

Many Britons also expect Mo Farah to be amongst the medals at the Europeans. The European cross country champion safely qualified for the championships here with an indoor 3000m personal best of 7:50.87, smashing his own stadium record in the process.

But Farah insists his main priority remains the world cross country championships in Mombassa. “It would be good to get a medal in front of a home crowd,” he said. “That would be amazing but my main focus is the world cross country.”

Slow comeback for Hansen

On Saturday triple jumper Ashia Hansen failed in her bid to qualify for the European Indoor Championships. Hansen, a former world indoor record holder, was hoping to reach the qualifying distance of 14.10m but her longest leap was only 13.68m.

It was enough to win the event easily, but more than a metre and a half short of the world record of 15.16m she set when winning the European indoor title in 1998. It is the latest stage of a long recovery for the 35-year-old who missed more than two years competition after suffering an horrific knee injury before the Olympic Games in 2004.

“Between 13 and 14 metres is not really where I should be at the moment,” she said. “I should have done the qualifying distance today.

I felt as if I could have done it quite easily.”

Hansen lost her world indoor record to Tatyana Lebedeva in 2004 but after two-and-a-half years of injury problems would clearly love to be able to compete against the Russian in her home town in three weeks time.

“I felt nervous before today’s event as it was my first big competition in almost a year,” she said. “Once I got the first good jump in the nerves went away, but I need a lot more training to get back to my best.”

Three PBs for Sotherton

There was better luck for another Birmingham-based athlete as multi-eventer Kelly Sotherton produced three PBs from her three events. She opened her busy afternoon by finishing fourth in the 60m Hurdles in 8.19, beating her previous best by two hundredths of a second, and went to equal her indoor PB in the High Jump, leaping 1.81m, before setting another best in the Shot Put – 14.42m.

But the Commonwealth Heptathlon champion was beaten by 0.01s in the 60 hurdles by her young colleague Jessica Ennis who also ran a PB despite clipping hurdles.

Ennis finished third before going on to win the High Jump with 1.87m, only three centimetres below her best. After beating Britain’s specialist high jumpers, the 21-year-old European junior heptathlon champion then narrowly failed to clear 1.92m.

“It’s nice to know I can attempt those heights,” said Ennis who won the Commonwealth bronze medal last year. “I’m sure when it comes to the European indoors I will get it right and be up there in the 1.90s.”

Ennis finished her day with 12.38m in the shot, 55cm short of her indoor best, and then returned on Sunday to finish third in the Long Jump with 6.15m, just six centimetres short of her best. The event was won by 19-year-old Amy Harris, who improved her PB by some 30cm to 6.47.

The best track final on the first day was the women’s 3000m in which Commonwealth 1500m champion Lisa Dobriskey outkicked Helen Clitheroe over the final 200m to break her PB by nearly 13 seconds.

Clitheroe, who leads the world over 1500m at the moment, led from the gun and dragged Dobriskey to her first ever sub-9:00 time. Dobriskey escaped over the final lap to win in 8:55.22, while Clitheroe ran 8:58.27, breaking her PB by more than six seconds.

Matthew Brown for the IAAF

No mention of 16 yr old Asha Phillips?

Craig Pickering beat Jason Gardener for the third time this season to win the 60m final at the European Indoor Trials and UK Championships in Sheffield.
Pickering won in 6.58 seconds with Ryan Scott second in a personal best 6.64secs while three-time European champion Gardener was third.

Pickering, 20, has also beaten Gardener in Glasgow and Stuttgart this year.

It was another miserable day for Mark Lewis-Francis, who did not even qualify for the final.

Highlights: Men’s 60m final

“I don’t know what is going on,” said the 24-year-old.

"It would have been nice to compete in Birmingham in the European Championships but, for me, the big aim is obviously the outdoors.

“It’s just not happening right now. I’ve not broken 6.70secs this season and for me that’s terrible.”

Pickering was delighted with his victory, which makes him one of the favourites for gold at the next month’s European Championships in Birmingham.

I’m the best in Britain but there is a lot more to come from Jason Gardener yet

Craig Pickering

But the European junior champion refused to write off his training partner Gardener’s chances.

“I’m the best in Britain but there is a lot more to come from Jason Gardener yet,” said Pickering.

"No-one can write him off. He has been in this position before and come back and won the European Indoors.

“I’m just pleased with how I am competing, I’m running well.”

Laura Turner won the women’s 60m in a personal best of 7.25, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Jeanette Kwakye, with both inside the qualification standard for Birmingham.

Mo Farah claimed an emphatic victory in the 3,000m, winning in seven minutes 50.86 seconds ahead of Nick McCormick.

Teenager James Brewer timed his run perfectly to pip Richard Hill in the final moments of the 800m and win in 1:49.03.

Amy Harris won the long jump with a leap of 6.47m with Commonwealth heptathlon bronze medallist Jessica Ennis - competing in her fourth event of the weekend - in third.

Nicola Sanders ran an impressive 50.60secs in the 400m to finish almost three seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

The duel between European silver medallist Nathan Douglas and Commonwealth champion Phillips Idowu in the triple jump failed to materialise after the latter withdrew as a precautionary measure following an injury to his right heel.

However, the 28-year-old’s sole effort of 16.68m was sufficient to claim second behind Douglas, who produced a personal best of 17.19m with his one legal jump.

I thought Craig’s performance in his semi was much more impressive than the final. I haven’t seen the reaction time but he seemed to lose about a metre to Darren Chin out of the blocks only to destroy him around 40 metres. In the final he started better but looked tense and struggled to get clear. He will need to address this if he wants to hold his own with the real big boys.

Craig still doesn’t look overly lean but is alot taller and thicker than Gardener, anyone know his height, body weight and/or gym stats?

BTW Did anyone notice the women’s 60m final. Every one of those girls was carrying excess body weight and some of them were just plain fat.

Yep, they looked overweight. In defence of Jason, he has lost alot of muscle mass due to his inability to do the necessary lifting due to his injured wrist, he looks wasted. Craig is going to get into sub 6.5 shape when he losses that excess weight. I dare say it again he WILL run below 10 secs IF he stays on the conservative side of training and isn’t tempted by other coaches offering him the world.

Why does Jason have an injured wrist? Can’t he do back squat, front squat, ghr, ems? He is a professional, right?

Are we talking muscle mass here or fat? He never looked like he would loose but he definitly was trying too hard - as seen by the failry poor start (but hey it’s his firs year on top form after so much cramp and stuff last year).

he was probably worse here than before because he knew he was supposed to win this one. it is hard when you have to live up to expectations.

I agree, his semi-was very impressive.

There was a quick shot of him with his shirt off after the semi’s and he had fairly defined abs so I think his body fat is at most around 10%

From The TimesFebruary 12, 2007

Gardener finds sprint final is one trial too farJohn Goodbody
Anticipation is often the keenest pleasure. Frequently in sport, the prospect of a long-awaited clash is spoilt through illness, injury, sudden lack of form or the intervention of another competitor. This transforms the pattern of the event, leading to anticlimax.

So it was in Sheffield yesterday in the 60 metres, heralded as being a showdown between Jason Gardener, 31, the Olympic relay gold medal-winner, and his training partner and heir apparent, Craig Pickering, the European junior champion.

It was the highlight of the Norwich Union UK Indoor Championships and Trials for the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham next month, but it was blemished by Gardener failing to be at his best, partly because of a heavy cold and cramp.

Pickering finished first in 6.58sec, having led from gun to tape. In second place was another runner from Bath University; not Gardener, as expected, but Ryan Scott, at 19 a year younger than Pickering. Gardener was seventh.

Pickering, the first white athlete to win the event for 20 years, paid tribute to Gardener afterwards. He said it was far too early to believe that it was a “changing of the guard” in British sprinting, adding that he would be very surpised if the selectors did not pick his compatriot as third string for the European Championships, in which Gardener has won the gold medal three times.

Gardener said: “Craig handled the pressure really well this week. I am still the second-fastest Briton this season. Now I need time to reflect. It could be irrational to say things now. But I will be in Birmingham on Saturday for the Norwich Union Grand Prix.”

The most dismal sight of the event was that of Mark Lewis-Francis, the former world junior champion, failing even to qualify for the final.

Jessica Ennis had a tiring and pleasing weekend in preparing for the pentathlon at the European Indoor Championships, taking part in four events, three of them against her more experienced rival, Kelly Sotherton, 30, the Olympic bronze medal-winner.

Ennis was the more impressive, winning two of the disciplines. She set a personal best in the 60 metres hurdles in 8.18sec, one hundredth of a second ahead of Sotherton, and then leapt to victory in the high jump, her premier event, with 1.87 metres.

Ennis, competing at the English Institute of Sport, where she does much of her training, said: “It was good to get an attempt at 1.92 metres. I felt I was getting the height, but my timing was just a bit out. Still, it’s nice to know I can attempt those heights. I’m sure when it comes to the European Indoors, I will get it right and be up there in the 1.90s.”

However, Sotherton, who won the Commonwealth title last year, when Ennis broke through at senior level with the bronze medal, finished well clear in the shot with a personal best of 14.42 metres.

In the long jump, with Sotherton absent, Ennis finished third, although her distance of 6.15 metres was seven centimetres below her personal best. She said: “I was hoping to jump a bit better than that, but overall I’m really pleased with the weekend.” Asked about her relationship with Sotherton, who once nicknamed her “Tadpole”, Ennis said: “No, we don’t hate each other. In fact, we get on really well. We are rivals on the track, friendly off it.”

First place in the long jump went to Amy Harris, 19, who set a personal best of 6.47 metres, one of a cluster of impressive performances.

Another was in the 400 metres by Nicola Sanders, who ran 50.60sec, the second-fastest time ever by a Briton and the fastest in the world this year. She said: “I knew I was in good shape, but I didn’t know it was that good.” However, she is uncertain whether she will compete in the European Indoor Championships, saying: “I am confident I can run fast times, but I have to think about what’s best for my outdoor season.” Many of Europe’s female 400 metres runners will certainly be relieved if she does not take part.

Craig weighs 80kg and is between 5’11 and 6’0. Last time he had his body fat taken, or last time he mentioned it to me was just before christmas, and it was around 7%. When he first went to Bath his body fat percentage was much higher, upto 13%. In fact, when I saw him at Xmas, which was the first time I saw him since July I think, he looked significantly leaner than I have ever seen him, but that is probably the longest period of time I have not seen him for, so it may have been more noticeable if that makes sense.