Tuesday, July 16, 2024
Sport

UK Athletics Championships 2024: Louie Hinchliffe wins 100m title to secure Olympic debut – BBC

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Louie Hinchliffe wins UK 100m title
Rising sprint star Louie Hinchliffe stunned Britain’s best to secure a fairytale Olympic 100m qualification at the UK Athletics Championships, as Daryll Neita stormed to the women’s title in Manchester.
Hinchliffe continued his sensational breakthrough year by clocking 10.18 seconds in miserable conditions to beat 2022 champion Jeremiah Azu, who also secured his place on Team GB by virtue of his top-two finish.
It comes three weeks after 21-year-old Hinchliffe became the first European man to win the United States' collegiate 100m title in 9.95secs, which put him sixth on the British all-time list.
“It means everything to be going to Paris," Hinchliffe said. "I will go with the attitude that I can win. I seem to do well in the high-pressure situations, so who knows.”
Neita, who will target individual medals in both sprint events in Paris, began her bid for double British gold by triumphing in the women’s 100m final in 11.24secs.
World indoor pole vault champion Molly Caudery also confirmed she will appear at her first Games after demonstrating her form by taking victory with a first-time clearance at her opening height.
To be assured of a chance to contest an individual event at the Olympics, athletes must achieve a top-two finish at the qualifiers in Manchester on 29 and 30 June and also have the World Athletics qualification standard.
A selection meeting will follow the championships next week before the final British athletics squad for Paris 2024 is announced on Friday, 5 July.
Neither Hinchliffe or his coach, nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis, could have seen this coming.
But on a miserable Saturday night in Manchester, amid relentless rain and an unseasonal chill, the Sheffield-born athlete wrote the latest chapter of his sporting fairytale.
Hindered by injury and having admittedly not taken his training too seriously as a first-year university student in the UK, Hinchliffe sought the guidance of athletics icon Lewis, who coaches at the University of Houston, last August.
The rapid progress he has made in the 10 months since then has been nothing short of remarkable – and, as he blazed his way down the rain-lashed track, it could not have been timed any better.
Hinchliffe announced himself as a genuine contender for Paris qualification after following up a statement wind-assisted time of 9.84secs in May by shattering the 10-second barrier for the first time in legal conditions to win the prestigious NCAA title – one year after finishing last in his semi-final.
The ambitious target set by Lewis during their first phone call last August was to put Hinchliffe in contention for a place on the Olympic relay team – but once again he exceeded all expectations to make his once unlikely dream a reality.
Unfazed by the enormity of the opportunity, back competing in front of his home fans, Hinchliffe overhauled Azu – himself crowned champion as a 21-year-old two years ago, in the closing stages.
They will join Zharnel Hughes in Paris, with the world bronze medallist already assured of an Olympic 100m place but absent from the championships with a hamstring injury.
Neita was left "distraught" after missing out on 200m gold – and a first major title – by one-hundredth of a second at the European Championships this month, but she resumed her bid for individual medals in Paris with a dominant display here.
With five global medals as an ever-present in the British relay team Neita has made major individual honours a priority this year, and having achieved the Olympic qualifying times in both sprint events the 27-year-old will now come up against Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m on Sunday evening.
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Daryll Neita wins women's 100m title
'If Louie goes to the Olympics and wins two gold medals, I'll remind him he needs seven more'
Everything you need to know about the UK Athletics Championships
GB sprinter Hughes given Olympic trials exemption
A first-time clearance at her opening height of 4.41m was enough for Caudery to clinch the women’s pole vault title – and confirm she will make her Olympic debut in Paris, where she will be one of the favourites for the gold medal.
One week after setting a British record of 4.92m in France – a mark unmatched in the world this year – the world indoor champion once again starred in front of a home crowd, just as she did to win her first major title in Glasgow in February.
The in-form 24-year-old, who was disappointed to settle for European bronze in Rome, cleared 4.83m as she built towards another British record attempt and went close to achieving that with each of her three attempts at 4.93m.
Caudery said: "I have had to force myself to review my expectations. Coming into the season it was definitely about reaching Paris, now it is to medal.
"Of course the gold is the dream and after I won at the indoors I know what it is like to win, but I have also experienced disappointment."
Katarina Johnson-Thompson, with less pressure to impress at the trials after winning her second world heptathlon gold in Budapest last summer, placed ninth in the women's javelin with 42.83m.
The 31-year-old, who was forced to withdraw from the European Championships this month with a minor problem in her right leg, is only required to compete in one event at the trials – but is also entered in the 200m and high jump on Sunday as she fine-tunes her Olympic preparations.
Cindy Sember will compete in Paris after taking a dominant victory in the women's 100m hurdles in 12.85secs, while Elizabeth Bird also qualified by winning the women's 3,000m steeplechase in a championship record 9:29.67.
But Jacob Fincham-Dukes will be among the athletes waiting on the decision of the team selectors after retaining his men’s long jump title with a best leap of 7.95m, as will Anna Purchase after winning the women's hammer title with a best of 68.79m.
World 1500m champion Josh Kerr and world 800m bronze medallist Ben Pattison, both with Olympic qualification in their respective events already secured, qualified from a stacked men's 800m heat to reach Sunday’s final.
They were led across the line by Max Burgin in one minute 45.52 seconds, but defending champion Daniel Rowden was among those to miss out.
Jemma Reekie won her women’s 800m heat in 2:01.00 to qualify for the final, where she will be joined by 17-year-old Phoebe Gill after the European Under-18 record-holder took an impressive victory in her heat (2:05.33).
Olympic and world 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson, another of Team GB’s Paris 2024 medal hopes already assured of an Olympic place, will contest the women's 400m final after finishing second to Nicole Yeargin (52.01) in her heat in 52.06secs.
Amber Anning cruised to victory as she set the fastest time with 50.65secs, as Victoria Ohuruogu (51.49) and Laviai Nielsen (52.14) both also claimed wins, while Charlie Dobson produced a seemingly effortless 45.75secs to qualify fastest for the men’s 400m final.
Strong favourite Laura Muir controlled her women's 1500m heat to win in 4:16.30, as Olympic hopefuls Katie Snowden, Melissa Courtney-Bryant, Georgia Bell and Revee Walcott-Nolan all also qualified for the final.
European 5,000m silver medallist George Mills (3:40.34), Neil Gourley (3:44.33) and Adam Fogg (3:39.45) won their men's 1500m heats.
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