Pole vaulter heads into the history books thanks to impressive clearance of 5.85m in retaining his national title
Pole vault is grabbing its fair share of attention on a world level and Harry Coppell did his best to heighten its profile in his home country too by smashing the British record on his way to the national title in Manchester.
The Wigan & District athlete had been assured of his victory early in the competition, securing gold when he cleared his opening height of 5.42m at the first time of asking, but the man who went over 5.80m twice indoors earlier this year clearly had bigger things on his mind.
His next height, 5.62m, was achieved first time before he then went 10cm higher and broke the championship record when clearing 5.72m.
A quick word with the officials saw the bar pushed from the initial target of 5.84m up to 5.85m, some three centimetres higher than the outdoor British record set by Steven Lewis in 2012 and two higher than Luke Cutts’ indoor mark of 5.83m.
Coppell ran through on his first attempt and then knocked the bar off with his second. His third and final vault, however, saw him sail over and into the history books at a venue which has traditionally not been kind to vaulting.
After injury robbed him of an appearance at last year’s Doha World Championships, Coppell has clearly been inspired by the exploits of athletes such as world record-holder Mondo Duplantis and world champion Sam Kendricks this summer and the Briton now has his sights set on getting closer to the very top.
“An outdoor PB and a British record with 5.85m feels so very special,” said Coppell, who was joined on the podium by silver medallist Adam Hague (5.2om) and Ethan Walsh (5.05m). “I don’t think anyone expected it here in Manchester. The last few events here have been bad weather but today has been great, no crowd of course and the new track has been really good.
“I warmed up very well and I wanted to save energy so I was able to skip heights and move on to where I wanted to be. I ended up jumping on my own but it worked out well.
“The reason for 5.85m (instead of 5.84m) was because there is something significant in the world rankings in 5.85m. It felt like a marker and it has been a while since a British jumper has been in the world rankings.
“I have kept motivated this year, particularly as I missed out on Doha and this has paid off.”
Asked about Duplantis and Kendricks, Coppell added: “It’s a really good confidence boost. It’s great to be competing with those guys anyway but after today I know I can sort of be up there with them at the bigger heights rather than just along for the ride.”
In what was a highly eventful day across the field events, Kirsty Law literally saved her best until last in the women’s discus competition, achieving a personal best of 57.95m on her final throw of the night to take gold and defend her title. Second was Jade Lally with her final-throw 57.20m while Shadine Duquemin took bronze thanks to her best of 52.52m.
“What a day to PB after eight years! I’ll definitely take that,” said Law. “The first three throws it really wasn’t happening for me but by my fifth throw I really did what I am meant to do and I really went for it. And I did it. Jade and I were both struggling going into the last round but then we both had a great round so we really pushed each other and brought the best out of each other.”
A stadium record of 17.88m in the fifth round gave reigning champion Sophie McKinna shot put gold as she saw off the challenge of Amelia Strickler, whose best of 17.47m also came with her penultimate throw. Serena Vincent of Portsmouth was third with 15.60m, while heptathlete Niamh Emerson continued her comeback from injury in seventh with an effort of 13.29m.
A fifth-round leap of 6.69m (+0.5m/sec) meant Jazmin Sawyers finished first in the women’s long jump, while Abigail Irozuru was second with 6.53m (+1.1m/s) and Rebecca Chapman third thanks to her jump of 6.14m (-0.6m/s).
The men’s title went to Reynold Banigo, who also made a decisive move in the fifth round. His leap of 7.81m (+0.7m/s) held off Jack Roach in second with 7.60m (+0.3m/s) and Shandell Taylor was third thanks to his season’s best of 7.45m (+0.4m/s).
There was an emotional victory in the men’s high jump, a personal best of 2.18m giving Joel Clarke-Khan a particularly satisfying win after a two-year absence through injury. Silver went to William Grimsey on countback after his season’s best of 2.15m from Sam Brereton.
“I am very, very happy,” said Clarke-Khan. “I came here to do a job and I got it done. I actually knocked the bar on that (winning) jump and I thought the bar might come off. When I watched the video I had my hands on my head. But the competition worked out well.”
Women’s hammer gold went to Birchfield’s Jessica Mayho thanks to her 65.47m. Charlotte Payne took silver with 63.92m and Alice Barnsdale bronze with 62.05m. The top three all threw season’s bests.
The 2018 champion James Whiteaker was the first athlete of the weekend to strike gold, his fifth-round throw of 75.99m was enough to secure top spot in the men’s javelin. Daniel Bainbridge landed silver with 70.50m and Tom Hewson third with 68.49m.
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