Sprint talent stars alongside shot putters Sophie McKinna and Scott Lincoln at the World Indoor Tour meeting in Manchester

Amy Hunt is reminding us why she is one of the most exciting talents in British athletics. After barely racing last year due to injuries, she has started 2022 in style and at the World Indoor Tour event at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday (Jan 22) she ran a PB of 7.21 to comfortably win the women’s 60m.

“I’ve had three races and three PBs this month which is great,” she said. “Our objectives this year weren’t really time-based or outcome-based but more process-based goals. Our whole aim for this season is to build my confidence back up and get me back into competitive races alongside really quick girls. To run fast times too is a crazy bonus.”

Hunt enjoyed a brilliant start in the 60m final to begin with, although officials were forced to recall the runners due to Desiree Henry false-starting. When the race got going at the second time of asking, Hunt’s start was not quite as explosive but she drew away impressively from runner-up Eve Wright (7.44) and 17-year-old Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (7.45).

In 2019 Hunt won the European under-20 200m title and set world under-18 and British under-20 records at the distance. Then, in 2020, she won the British indoor 60m title in 7.39 before later making her mark during a summer of mainly 100m racing, which included her first Diamond League experience. 

But in February last year she sustained a hamstring tear, which later re-tore. Added to this she suffered ankle inflammation and was swamped with studies at Cambridge University.

“I did too much academic work and probably didn’t listen to my body and got into bad habits such as staying up too late and so we took things back to the drawing board,” she said. “There were a lot of things to sort out and with the help of a great team I’ve managed to do that.”

This BoXX United-sponsored meeting, which was organised by Bryggen Sports with help from British Athletics, was the first World Indoor Tour meeting of the year and a silver status event. It meant it was the best international indoor meeting in Britain for a couple of years and the fields were genuinely international with competitors from around 40 nations.

Sophie McKinna (James Rhodes)

The shot put contests were particularly high quality with Sophie McKinna winning an exciting women’s event at the very start of the programme with a final round effort of 18.53m. 

McKinna beat Chase Ealey of the United States by four centimetres in a nail-biting finish to the contest. There were no hard feeling between the two, though, as Ealey stays with McKinna’s family when she is in Europe. A close third, meanwhile, Fanny Roos of Sweden threw 18.48m.

I was pleased to take the win but it was a little frustrating as I’m in really good shape and I missed what would have been ‘the big throw’ at the end,” said McKinna, who missed her PB by one centimetre but nevertheless beat the qualifying standard for the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March. “I’m excited for the next one though. This gives me a little fire in my belly.”

McKinna has clearly started 2022 in great form and said: “I’m not about throwing 18.50m this year. I want to take the next step and throw over 19m. Hopefully we’ll get to see it in the next few competitions.”

The British record of 19.06m has been held by Venissa Head since 1984. “I’ve got my eye on it,” said McKinna. “And I had my eye on it today but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Scott Lincoln (James Rhodes)

Scott Lincoln is another shot putter in fine form. The British No.1 still works part-time and was busy on a building site 24 hours before this competition but he made light work of the contest as he threw 20.73m – a huge indoor PB and the fourth best throw of all-time indoors by a British athlete.

Andrei Toader of Romania was second with 20.29m and Marcus Thomsen of Norway third with 20.25m.

Osian Perrin smashed his own UK indoor 3000m record by four seconds as he clocked 7:54.41 to finish fourth in a race won by Mohamad Al Garni of Qatar in 7:52.68.

Osian Perrin (47) (James Rhodes)

Perrin has been in great form on the track so far this year and one of his next goals is to try to get close to 3:40 for 1500m. Remarkably he does not run particularly high mileage either as he is a triathlete and gets a lot of his aerobic fitness from swimming sessions five times a week.

Ciara Mageean won a terrific women’s 3000m after a last-gasp finish saw her reel in the long-time and breakaway leader Luiza Gega of Albania. Mageean, who runs for Ireland but lives near Manchester as part of Team New Balance, clocked 8:47.23 to pip Gega by three tenths of a second as she passed her in the closing metres.

To add to the drama, Sarah Healy was in the running for a top three position but stopped with one lap to go. In the melee, Verity Ockenden took third in 8:51.17 as Jenny Nesbitt was fourth in 8:54.99 and former European champion Meraf Bahta of Sweden was fifth in 8:56.51 as seven runners broke nine minutes.

“I really wanted an Irish record but didn’t get it today,” said Mageean, referring to Mary Cullen’s national best of 8:43.74. “But it’s always hard to tell what kind of shape you’re in during the first race of the season.”

Mageean added: “I train here and Vicente (Modahl, the meet organiser) has done a fantastic job putting it on.”

Issey Boffey looked strong in her first race of the year as she took the women’s 800m in a world lead of 2:03.11. The University of Birmingham biomedicine student followed pacemaker Seren Bundy-Davies to 500m and then hit the front to hold off Lorena Martin of Spain and Noelie Yarigo of Benin.

Issy Boffey (James Rhodes)

A winner of the European under-20 and 23 titles, it’s logical for Boffey to now target the European senior championships this summer but she said: “Hopefully yes, but there’s a lot this summer so I’m just working hard to make those teams and to make my mark as a GB senior.”

Ed Faulds has only just turned 19 but is keen to make his mark at the UK Indoor Championships next month at 400m. Here he won his race in style in 46.84 ahead of Halvard Ingvaldsen of Norway, who clocked 47.43. 

Ed Faulds (James Rhodes)

Faulds’ time was the third best ever by a British junior indoors and he looks a real talent following his European under-20 gold last summer in Tallinn. “For a season opener I’m happy and I hope this shows the European juniors wasn’t a fluke!” the Rugby & Northampton athlete said.

Jeremiah Azu (6.60) and Adam Thomas (6.64) won the men’s 60m heats but the final was full of false starts and disqualifications (Azu, Oliver Bromby and Tommy Ramdhan), with the experienced Andy Robertson holding his nerve on the starting blocks before blasting away to win in 6.60 from Thomas’s 6.62 – both of which times are World Indoor Championship qualifying marks – as Jona Efoloko was third in 6.65. Such was the quality of the field, former European 100m champion James Dasaolu was fifth in 6.80.

When it came to World Indoors qualifiers in Manchester, incidentally, there were 15 athletes in total who achieved them. What’s more, there were an estimated 42 indoor PBs achieved, all of which bodes well as the meeting strives to advance from a World Indoor Tour silver meeting to gold in future.

Andy Robertson (8) beats Oliver Bromby (James Rhodes)

Robertson, 31, said: “We have quite sensitive blocks these days so any movement and you can give away a false start, but a lot of it is down to discipline and focus and you must stay still in the blocks.

“I know people want to get out during that first 10 metres but there’s no point if you’re going to risk making a false start. And all I could do is concentrate on myself and not let anything distract me.”

Elsewhere, Loac Gasch of Switzerland won the men’s high jump with 2.24m, Lucy Hadaway long jumped 6.34m to beat Olympic finalist Abigail Irozuru by three centimetres, Claudia Bobocea of Romania won the women’s 1500m in a world lead of 4:06.24 and Piers Copeland took the men’s 1500m in 3:42.14.

For full results, CLICK HERE

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