Athletes book their places in Tokyo at the Müller British Athletics Championships

Keely Hodgkinson at mcr

The Müller British Championships came to an eventful close as national titles – and places on the team bound for the Tokyo Olympics – were decided in Manchester. The packed schedule of action saw many brilliant performances as stadium records tumbled at the Manchester Regional Arena.

The men’s and women’s 800m contests were hotly anticipated and both produced breath-taking races which underlined the depth of British middle-distance talent.

Müller performance of the day went to 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson (handicap -2.5), who continues to impress, and the European Indoor champion produced another highly accomplished performance to come through and hit the line in 1:59.61 as she beat the 2:00.12 of Jemma Reekie (handicap -3.2), with Laura Muir (handicap -3.8) third in 2:00.24.

The field had hit the bell in 61.77 before European 1500m champion Muir made a move and was followed by training partner Reekie. It had looked like that battle would decide the two automatic Tokyo places but Hodgkinson’s fantastic finish – the closing lap was covered in 57.85 – saw her breakthrough to confirm her Olympic place.

“Every athlete’s aim is to make the final and mine will be the same going into Tokyo,” said a delighted Hodgkinson. “But it will be a challenge with the calibre of the athletes.”

She will definitely be joined in Japan by Reekie, who was part of the London 2012 torch relay.

“Carrying the torch years ago was when my Olympic journey began,” she said. “I didn’t know it would come this soon but I am so excited and I want to go to Tokyo to compete. The British girls should be out there looking to medal as we were all very strong and in with a chance. We all push one another, and we all deserve to be there.”

The men’s contest was similarly thrilling as just 0.03 of a second separated the top three in another top-quality contest.

Elliot Giles (handicap -7.1) took victory and his Tokyo spot by clocking 1:45.11, with Oliver Dustin (handicap -6.1) speeding his way to second in 1:45.12 ahead of the 1:45.14 run by Daniel Rowden (handicap -7.1).

“It was such a tactical affair out there,” said Giles. “I waited for the last 100m and put down the metal then and I had to dip at the line.

“I was anxious coming into the race as I have come back from a quad injury so I knew I wasn’t the fittest and I needed this to be tactical so I could win. In three to four weeks I will be really ready to race and I am very confident that I can deliver.”

The 20-year-old Dustin will be relishing his first Olympic assignment.

“What a fantastic race that was,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of bumping and barging but I felt controlled and executed the race 99.9% of the way but we were all falling apart in that last 10 metres. Elliot just pipped me to the line.

“It has given me a massive confidence boost and it’s what I came here to do so I am really pleased. The rest of the world need to be fearful of what the guys are bringing from GB.”

Jess Judd (handicap -2.8) had already qualified for the 10,000m in Tokyo but can now add the 5000m to her to do list in Japan after taking the honours in the 12-and-a-half-lap event in a time of 15:10.02.

A late injection of pace, with a closing lap of 61.7, gave her the win over 3000m European Indoor champion Amy-Eloise Markovc (handicap -2.5), who was agonisingly just over half a second outside of the Olympic qualifying time in 15:10.54, with Verity Ockenden (handicap -2.3) third in 15:12.24.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Mark Pearce (handicap -5.5) landed his first British title but also finished just outside of the qualifying standard – 8:22 – as he won in a stadium record of 8:24.83.

Second-placed Zak Seddon (handicap -5.4) assured himself of a Tokyo place, however, after making sure of a top-two finish with a season’s best 8:25.08. Phil Norman (handicap -4.6) completed the top three in 8:31.87.

British Championship results here

UK runbritain rankings for endurance events and age groups 

Other results from the weekend are on the following links: 


Road/multi terrain