Harrier’s Perform at British Champs

The UKA British Championships took place at the Alexander Stadium Birmingham over the Bank Holiday weekend 24/ 25 August 2019.

With the Championships also acting as trials for the World Championships in Doha at the end of September, the event drew the top athletes in the country, contesting for the coveted prize of British Champion and team selection.

Three Colchester Harriers athletes competed in their respective events. Joy Ogunleye, Rebecca Jeggo and Charlie Dobson, all still being classified as junior athletes, had achieved the qualifying standard to secure an invitation to the competition.

On the Saturday Jeggo had the honour of being the first track athlete to be announced to the crowd in the initial heat of 100m. Full of confidence from her recent success’s she was quickly into her running to take a strong second place in 11.92s, the fourth fastest time of the five heats.

In her first senior championships, Ogunleye was drawn in the final heat against Olympian Desiree Henry. After her customary electric start she fought hard in the final part of the race to take third place, and an automatic qualification to the semi-finals in a time of 12.23s.

In the semi-finals the top sprinters in the country entered the competition. With the event now live on the BBC sports website, and the wind now switching to a headwind both athletes acquitted themselves well in the fields full of international athletes.

Joy was in semi-final two alongside Imani Lansiquot, world ranked 25 this year and the events eventual silver medallist and Olympian Asha Philip. Her time of 12.37s against a strong -2.7s wind achieved 7th place, one place ahead of the English schools 2019 champion.

The last semi-final included the European Champion and 2019 world ranked number four Dina Asher Smith, as well as Diamond League athlete Jodie Williams and Henry. Jeggo ran 12.02s (with the wind just legal) to take a clear 5th place, finishing ahead of athletes who have been awarded England vests in 2019.

Both athletes are a credit to their coach Steve Garnham, who was with the athletes for the weekend.

Sunday saw temperatures soaring to 30 degrees for another action-packed day which included the longer 200m sprint.  Unlike the 100ms, the format was the tougher heat to finals, with the latter event broadcast on national television.

First was the women’s race. With only the top two in each heat guaranteed a place in the final, followed by the top fastest losers overall, it was a case of going all out.  This year’s training reaped its benefit for Jeggo who in lane four executed the bend well and was in the mix for a placing. Fighting a strong head wind on the home straight, -2.3ms, she had the strength to move ahead to take third place in a time of 24.48s.   Knowing that the athlete placed third in the first heat ran a quick time, Jeggo then had a nervous wait for the final heat times to come through. Unfortunately for her, the third placed athlete time was .12 quicker and therefore secured the last qualifying slot. Jeggo finished ninth quickest in the event and was justly pleased with her achievements over the weekend.  

Making his debut appearance at the British Champs, (and having left his Harriers vest at home in the washing pile !!) Charlie Dobson stepped onto the track in lane four, in the second of four heats.  With just the winner of each heat guaranteed a place in the final plus the top four fastest of the losers, like Jeggo before him, it meant he had to leave everything on the track.    After just six weeks back into training after an injury ridden year and drawn alongside Miguel Francis – the number one ranked UK athlete with a sub 20s clocking and the World Junior Champion on his other side, Dobson looked remarkably relaxed at the start of his race.   A strong first 100m saw him come off the bend in second place and he managed to hold on through the line in 20.67s, a season’s best.   A tense wait ensued before receiving confirmation that he had gained the top losers slot and a chance to compete in what was to be the last ever race held at the current Alexander Stadium and the opportunity to race against a stellar field including Olympians Adam Gemili and Nathaniel Mitchell Blake, Common Wealth Games finalist Zarnel Hughes, and Francis who had already gained the qualifying time for Doha.  Drawn in the outside lane, Dobson didn’t give himself the best of starts, but once up and running he used his long stride and quick turn over to hold onto a fantastic fifth place behind the big four, once again clocking his quickest time on home soil of 20.67s.