The British Trials have begun, and our eyes and ears there is Stuart Weir. Here is Stuart’s first column on the Trials! 

GB Championships Day 1

It was a long day: 11.30am to 8.30pm. There were heats and prelims, but also 12 finals.  The event ended with the two 100m finals. Darryl Neita became the clear favourite, with Dina Asher-Smith deciding only to run the 200 at the trials. Remember that Neita has already won two diamond leagues this year. Her winning time was 11.24, with Amy Hunt second in 11.41 for second and the other automatic selection place for Paris. Pay no attention to the times; it was raining. The track was wet. It was bitterly cold, and there was a negative wind. On a better day, I have no doubt that Neita would have been comfortably under 11. The winner commented afterwards: “It feels good to get another British title.  Conditions were hard in the rain again, and then there was a false start.  But it is all about focus, which I am trying to do this year, as I know I have the skill and speed now.  It is just about carrying on the momentum and enjoying every moment, as sport is all about”.

I was delighted to see Amy Hunt qualify for Paris. She was an outstanding junior who initially struggled to transition to senior, then suffered horrendous injuries, and it’s great to see her running so well. She spent the last year in Italy training with Marco Airale, whose group includes Neita and Jeremiah Azu. See the report on men’s 100. The day’s comment came from Hunt, who, with the legendary British understatement, commented: “It would have been nice to have better weather”. If you ever want a chat about sprinting, literature, and the importance of the Renaissance, Amy Hunt is your lady!

 The day’s final event was the men’s 100, which started at 8:10 PM, which seemed an awful long time to your correspondent after the opening race at 11:30 AM this morning! The winner was Louie Hinchliffe, whom no one in the UK had heard of until he won the NCAA title this year in 9.95. He studied in England for a year at Lancaster University and later at Washington State. He ran for Britain in the 2023 European Under 23 championship, but it was not until he transferred to the University of Houston that he became world-class.  His winning time was 10.18, with Jeremiah Azu  2nd in 10.25 – Comments above on the dreadful weather apply. With Zharnel Hughes given a medical exemption to rest his troublesome hamstring, he will undoubtedly get the third British spot when he proves his fitness.

Hincliffe commented: “I have to take it in my stride, take it all in and keep my focus.  I went to the States two years ago after college here in the UK and I have been coached by Carl Lewis.  I have to work hard with him; he has made me believe in myself.  This is the first year I have taken my athletics seriously; I used to focus on golf until a couple of years ago, but now I am focused 100% on training, nutrition, rest – the whole deal. It means everything to be going to Paris – I have dreamed about the Olympics since I was a kid.  I will go with the attitude that I can win.  I do well in the high-pressure situations, so who knows!”

Coach Carl Lewis and 100m champion Louis Hincliffe , photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

Coach Lewis, who was there to watch, gave his assessment: “I love coaching to see what I can do with these youngsters at college. We run a programme where people can do their best. I don’t need to be a great coach, but I want the kids to do well. Louie still has some time to improve, and I hope he will stay in Houston. I think he can become one of the best Britain has had. It is exciting times for GB. But Louie will get better.”

There was also Molly Caudery winning the pole vault with 4.83 and, honestly, missing 4.93 by a whisker. Caudery managed a competition well, and she did not start to vault until after all the other athletes had bowed out. She commented afterwards: “I was really pleased with that out there. I am thrilled with the position I am in right now, and I think if there’d been no wind, I’d have nailed that last 4.93 jump.  The jump was lined up well, technically it was really good, I was on a good pole.  I am pleased to have the consistency that I have this year. Of course, I learned a lot from the European champ’s disappointment, but once I put it into perspective, I was delighted.  I have had to force myself to review my expectations this season – coming into the season it was definitely about reaching Paris, now it is to medal.  Of course, the Gold is the dream, and after I won at the Indoors, I know what it is like to win, but I have also experienced disappointment”.  No one can say that she is not in the frame for the Olympic gold. Sadly, Holly Bradshaw was not in the field. 2024 is her last season, and sadly, injury deprives her of one more Olympics.

There was a poignant victory in the women’s 5000m for Hannah Nuttall in 15:13.70 by 8 hundredths of a second over Verity Ockenden.  8/100s after 5000m!  Hannah’s father, John Nuttall, a former international athlete, died late last year.

Other winners

Women’s Javelin: Bekah Walton 54.11m

Women’s Hammer: Anna Purchase 68.79

Women’s Triple Jump: Naomi Metzger 13.71

Women’s 100h: Cindy Sember 12.85

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase: Lizzie Bird 9:27.67

Men’s Shot: Scott Lincoln 20.81

Men’s Discus: Chukwuemeka Osammor  59.98m

Men’s Long Jump: Jacob Fincham-Dukes 7.95m

Men’s High Jump: William Grimsby  2.15m