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Darryl Neita completes British sprint double

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Sunday, 26 June 2022 11:58
100m champion adds 200m gold in Manchester, while Jemma Reekie produces a speedy half lap of her own to land 800m crown

Running a speedy 200m proved to be hugely important in two of the most high profile women’s track events on the final day of the Müller UK Athletics Championships, with Darryl Neita completing a sprint double and Jemma Reekie producing an impressive closing half lap to take 800m gold.

Less than 24 hours after beating Dina Asher-Smith to the 100m title, Neita was back in action in Manchester and this time showed her sprinting prowess over the longer distance to secure her second honour of the weekend.

The tailwind of 3.5 means the winning time of 22.34 can’t be considered when it comes to World Championships selection and leaves her short of the 22.80 qualifying mark. However, the 25-year-old was delighted with her weekend’s work after seeing off Tokyo Olympian Beth Dobbin (22.49), while 100m bronze medallist Imani-Lara Lansiquot landed another third-place finish in 22.70.

“Double British sprint champion sounds, good doesn’t it?” said Neita, the first female athlete to do the 100m and 200m double since Laura Turner in 2010. “I came here to do that and I have achieved it. Obviously, the wind means I don’t have the qualification standard for the Worlds, but I can’t do any more than win.”

After such a confidence-boosting two days, she added: “I really think I can go to Eugene and perform. I am a great fan of the sport and I watch others but I don’t measure myself against others. I am here to stay now.”

Jemma Reekie (Mark Shearman)

After coming agonisingly close to an Olympic medal in Tokyo last year, Jemma Reekie’s delight at securing the chance to return to global competition in Oregon was clear after her 800m victory.

A closing 200m of 27.6 meant the Scot clocked 2:06.03 to win the fight for the line with Ellie Baker (2:06.26) and Isabelle Boffey (2:06.59). With Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson already selected for the World Championships thanks to being the Diamond League champion, Baker looks likely to take the third British spot for Eugene via rankings points.

Reekie, who has struggled for consistency after having glandular fever back in February, could not hide her delight at getting the job done.

“Today means a lot to me,” she said. “This season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me but I know I can be ready for the Worlds and I have booked my spot. Some of the British girls are the best in the world so I really couldn’t take anything for granted. I knew it would be slow because of the wind and I knew some could sprint but I really wanted it out there.”

Jessie Knight (Mark Shearman

Another athlete aiming to make up for Olympic disappointment is Jessie Knight, who made sure of her Oregon spot with a hard-fought victory over Lina Nielsen in the 400m hurdles.

Knight’s campaign literally fell at the first hurdle in Tokyo last summer but she has bounced back into top form at just the right time in 2022 and will now prepare for the first outdoor World Championships of her career. She clocked 55.08 in the swirling wind to reel in Nielsen (55.32), who is also Oregon-bound, while bronze went to Hayley McLean in 56.74.

It was so tough out there today,” said Knight, only a matter of hours after Sydney McLaughlin’s world record-breaking exploits at the US Trials at Hayward Field. “Hopefully in Eugene it will be much better conditions and Lina and I can have some good times out there.  We haven’t had much of a chance to run fast times.

“This year has been a psychological battle. My Olympic dream was a bit of shambles last year so this season has been a challenge but I am really happy with how I have handled it.  I want to be healthy and fit on the start line and so far, so good.”

The 100m hurdles was a tough proposition, too, with the strong tailwind causing the athletes to have to constantly adjust as it meant they reached the barriers faster than they usually would.

Two-time Olympian Cindy Sember dealt with the conditions best to win in 12.56 (+5.4) and seal the deal for Eugene. Silver went to Jessica Hunter with 12.79 as former champion Alicia Barrett finished third in 12.98.

Lizzie Bird, meanwhile, followed up her recent British record-breaking run in Paris by successfully defending her 3000m steeplechase title.

She and Aimee Pratt broke away from the rest of the field in the closing stages, with the gold medal winner clocking 9:46.16 to Pratt’s 9:49.32. Both can now plan for competition in America. Yeovil’s Elise Thorner won bronze in 9:57.06.

There are no World Para Athletics Championships for multiple Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft to aim for this year, but the defending champion warmed up for her maiden Commonwealth Games appearance by winning the women’s 400m wheelchair race, clocking a time of 58.79. Closest to her was Melanie Woods in 60.54, with Eden Rainbow-Cooper (65.88) completing the podium.

Cardiff’s Bethan Davies is also aiming for Commonwalth success this summer and the Welsh athlete won another British 5000m walk title in 22:30.59, while a PB of 25:18.40 gave Gracie Griffiths silver and Abigail Jennings takes bronze in 25:26.23.

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