Oakes goes to greater lengths : ATHLETICS

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The Independent Online
Two of Britain's most experienced competitors last night demonstrated that records are there to be broken, long after the big 30 has been and gone.

At 39, Barrington Williams became only the fourth man to win a third Amateur Athletic Association indoor long-jump title, a distinction he shares with Phil Scott, Alan Lerwill and the 1964 Olympic gold medallist, Lynn Davies.

What was perhaps most pleasing of all for Williams was the nature of his victory. Having seen John Munroe equal his British best for the season of 7.54m with his final jump, Williams surpassed the mark by one centimetre with his own final effort.

Judy Oakes, who returned from her second retirement to take a third Commonwealth shot-putt title last summer, extended her own record in this championship as she secured her 13th AAA indoor title. At 36, Oakes has nearly as many AAA titles as years - last night represented her 34th, indoors and out, taking in the discus and shot putt.

Her reaction? A characteristic shrug. Unlike Williams, she was not thrilled with her performance on the night of 17.81m, well clear of Maggie Lynes with 15.71 in second place. "It's getting harder to motivate myself," she said. "I do one good putt and then I just go off the boil. Perhaps next week's match against France will give me the lift I need to go over 18 metres."

In the women's high jump, Lea Haggett took the title with 1.86m, ahead of Debbie Marti on 1.80m.

Solomon Wariso, seeking to earn a place in the British team to face France, had no problems in reaching the 200m final, where he will contest the place alongside John Regis with Darren Braithwaite.

Melanie Neef, running her first individual 400m of the season, gave notice of her intent for today's final with a qualifying time of 53.67sec. It was the fastest by a Briton this year from a runner who has already set Scottish records at 60m and 200m this season.

Her fellow Scot, Brian Whittle, reached the men's 400m final in 45.86sec; Mark Hylton emphasised his potential by winning the other semi-final in an indoor personal best of 47.52.

Craig Winrow's previous appearance on this track - in last Saturday's match against Russia - ended with him being catapaulted on to the infield after a close encounter with Martin Steele's elbow.

Last night proved to be far more predictable for him as he reached today's final with a smooth victory in 1min 53.14sec. Steele, drawn in another heat, was a faster winner in 1:51.71, and was briefly credited with the fastest time ever seen before the scoreboard corrected itself and added a minute to his performance.

Jacqui Agyepong, who set a British 60m hurdles record here last week, reached the 200m final, as did Ashia Hansen, who set a new Commonwealth triple-jump mark of 14.17m.

The first track title of the championships went to Grant Graham, of Clydesdale Harriers, who held off his compatriot, Ian Campbell, to win the 1500m in 3min 55.69sec.