At a venue where Jessica Ennis-Hill trains daily it was befitting she was given some indication of what lies in wait from her British heptathlon rivals when she returns to competition.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson, back after missing the latter part of last season with injury, broke the high jump British record with a clearance of 1.97m in a scintillating competition with Morgan Lake here at the British Indoor Athletics Championships.
For 17-year-old Lake, there was some consolation in breaking the British junior indoor record and equalling her personal best with a jump of 1.94m. It was the first time in history that two British women had cleared such a height in the same competition and the pair’s duel will not have gone unnoticed by Ennis-Hill, no doubt keeping an eye on proceedings at home a few miles away from the English Institute of Sport.
Day one of the championships very much belonged to youth, Johnson-Thompson, in her first high jump competition since June, seemingly an old hand at 22 among a litany of even younger winners.
“I am really happy with the personal best and that I’m back competing but I never thought I’d be that disappointed with 1.97m,” said the Liverpudlian, who is in action today, in the 60m hurdles. “It’s crazy because it’s a British record and a personal best but I wanted that two metres.”
Dina Asher-Smith, 19, and 20-year-old Chijindu Ujah were head and shoulders above the rest of the field in their respective 60m finals. A year ago, Ujah tore his hamstring in the same race while Asher-Smith was merely studying for her A-levels. Both now will be among the favourites to win gold at next month’s European Championships. The men’s final had been denied a duel between Ujah and his training partner Dwain Chambers, who pulled out the night before. Ujah was just four when Chambers won his first senior global medal. World champion Richard Kilty had already been ruled with what was described as a “minor niggle”.
Ujah took the gold in a time of 6.57 seconds but cut a disappointed figure across the line having missed out on breaking his personal best after stumbling slightly out of the blocks.
But he said: “Last year I pulled my hamstring in the final so I just wanted to come out injury free so I was praying to God. One of the main things for me is to stay healthy and consistent. I think I could have done something special but I stumbled.”Reuse content