Breakthrough night for Andrews and Potter in Highgate

Jess Andrews

A night of entertaining endurance running was showcased in the Olympic 10,000m Trials at the Highgate Harriers Night of 10,000m PBs which saw Jessica Andrews (handicap -0.6) and Beth Potter (handicap -1.5) achieve automatic selections for the Rio Olympic Games.

Andrews was the winner in the senior women’s race and set a new personal best on the way. The 31:58 clocking was an 80 second personal best for the Aldershot Farnham & District athlete who had previously run a best of 33:21.53 earlier this year. She beat a stellar field including 2009 world champion Linet Masai of Kenya as well as a number of fellow Brits to take the overall victory. Scottish athlete Beth Potter  crossed the line as the second Briton (third overall) inside the standard once more to confirm her place in Brazil.

Masai moved ahead early on and it was a group of British women including Andrews, Potter, Kate Avery (handicap -2.0) and Jo Pavey (handicap -0.4) which led the chase. However, 42 year-old Pavey who was bidding for selection to her fifth Olympic Games could not keep with the group as they moved away around the 6000m mark, and from there Andrews accelerated away causing devastation to the group behind her.

Andrews spoke afterwards: “I came into the race with nothing to lose today. I knew I was in great shape and training was going crazy good. A couple of weeks ago after an easy run, I said to my partner, ‘I have this vision that I am going to win’ – and I laughed about it because everyone has that thought in their head coming into the race.

“It’s going to be crazy this year, I’m getting married as well but that’s after the Olympics!”

Potter added after confirming her Rio qualification: “I was nervous over those last couple of laps; I didn’t want to look behind me as I was just focusing on getting that second spot. I felt good (at the front early on) and was confident to hold that position at that stage. But Jess had a great run; I used to train with her so well done to her.”

Ross Millington (handicap -6.0) earned an impressive win in the senior men’s race but was outside the Olympic qualifying standard. The time of 28:27.63 combined with finishing in the top two means the Stockport Harrier will have a chance to go for another attempt to run under the 28:00.00 qualification mark in the coming weeks to earn a place on the plane to Rio. In a similar position is Dewi Griffiths (handicap -6.0) who was the second Briton home (third overall) and also missed the qualifying time but it was another fine performance from the Welshman after his strong run at the IAAF World Half Marathon in March.

Millington broke away in the closing stages to earn a convincing victory ahead of Spain’s Juan Antonio Perez but it was a cagey affair for most of the contest. The duo were joined by Griffiths and Andy Vernon (handicap -4.2) for most of the race, and the latter was the only one in the field to hold the Olympic qualifying standard going into the race. However, around the 7km mark, the gap between the leading three and Vernon opened to 20m before extending the over 80m with 1000m to go and it seemed as though Millington and Griffiths would occupy the top two places and this is how it ended.

The winner Millington said: “That race was unbelievable today. I’ve run road races that get close to this, but to have this atmosphere on a track is great. I was 20 seconds off the standard (Olympic) today so it is going to be tough to make that time but I might race in a few weeks. I am close to the European and Olympic qualifying time so it is going to be a conversation with my coach to see where we go from here.”

Griffiths commented: “It’s a shame to miss out on the time when you are so close. I was quite happy with tonight; it’s been a mixed bag over the last couple of weeks. But I came out here tonight and gave it a go. I know I’m still young but I have that desire to be going to make teams now.”

Full results are available here.

Yesterday, Andrew Butchart, (handicap -6.4) broke the Scottish 36 year old 5,000m record in Hengelo and achieved his second RIo Olympics qualifying time.