Tag Archive: Nick McCormick


There have been mixed feelings on the road for the British girls as Gemma Steel and Charlotte Purdue battled it out for the top honours in the streets of Dublin to underline their promise whereas Paula Radcliffe suffered a serious blow to her hopes of eventually claiming that elusive Olympic medal in London as she faltered well off her target in Vienna.

On the track, Martyn Rooney opened his account to winning ways in style in Los Angeles and Abi Oyepitan evoked robust glimpses of the form that paved the way to the 200m final in Athens, with young Sophie Papps illustrating a glittering future in the women’s sprints at the Lee Valley.

OMV Half Marathon, Vienna

The much hyped “Emperor vs the Queen” virtual handicap race against great Haile Gebrselassie never really waltzed round the streets of the city of Johan Strauss as Radcliffe faded away over the back end of the half marathon course despite an encouraging start.

On a specially arranged format, the Briton was afforded a headstart of 7:52 on the differential between the lifetime bests of the two legends of distance running and showed purpose in the early stages to move past the opening 5k on schedule in 16:13.

But it turned all uphill from there on as the effects of a recent bout of bronchitis and pleurisy caught up with her and her strength started to waver in a test of mentality rather than an intended gauge of form and sharpener that reared up.

In due consideration, that was a race the world marathon record holder should have never run but she may have fallen for that false feeling of full recovery so many times when strength hasn’t actually settled back in yet, meddled with the anxiety of slipping behind her Olympic agenda.

By stark contrast, the ’emperor’ showed rejuvenated again, as if holding a charm of making, so much so that he soon released his rabbits of their duties to follow his own preferred tempo and breezed past Radcliffe slightly after the 15km mark, extending a shout of encouragement to his credit, on the way to wrapping up both contests in a time of 60.52.

Topping the women in a final time of 72:03, the slowest she has ever returned over the distance, will hardly offer any consolation for the Brit who, as Steve Cram wisely points out, will have to pick her way and races up to London very carefully henceforth, without any margin for mistakes.

SPAR Great Ireland Run, Dublin

The spell of the Olympics in London looks to work wonders on almost every department of home athletics and the spectacle of season revelation Gemma Steel and returning-to-action Charlotte Purdue pulling away from the field into a commanding British one-two in the women’s 10km race stirred life into hope of a revival over a distance that has been deep in the shades in recent years on the track.

Steel worked up a decisive four second gap on her domestic rival over the final kilometre of the course to collect the spoils in a huge best of  32:06, moving ninth in the UK all-time lists, and built on a sound run on all surfaces since autumn but Purdue won’t feel hard done by either with runner-up in a big new lifetime mark of 32:10 to slot into eleventh fastest ever herself.

Even more so when the young AFD runner came into the race still feeling a swift 15:29 long leg at the National Women’s 6-stager at Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, the previous day in her legs to show that form is falling in nicely down the way. Both times, without a doubt, indicate that the two Brits could pull the A standard of 31:45.00 on the track in the following several weeks and a place on the British team to London, an exciting prospect.

On the other hand, Helen Clitheroe endured a bad day at the office on her comeback from a training spell in Portugal as she looked rather uncomfortable midway through and trailed a long way behind the main action in fourth in 33:02 (SB), with Frenchwoman Christelle Daunay splitting the Brits in third in 32:27.

The men’s race could not bear the term contest by any means as great Kenenisa Bekele stormed to the front with the gun to force a searing pace, confident and flowing round the route, that saw him walk away with victory in a swift 27:49, a huge course record, as none survived on his tail even by the halfway mark.

A gap of almost a minute up on his nearest rival, as well as a few fleeting smiles looking round on the way, told the tale of a man back in serious business and feeling pleased with his form and fitness even though there was hardly a field to really test him over the distance. But time and races will tell whether he is back to his best once he swings onto the track next month with his showdown against Mo Farah over 5000m in Eugene looming large on the horizon.

Spaniard Ayam Lamdassam hung on to runner-up in 28:48 a mere second ahead of Italian Daniele Meucci, fourth and third behind Farah over 10000m in Barcelona, as they trailed a long way behind while Nick McCormick enjoyed another encouraging run to end up fifth in 29:04 and will take plenty of heart from a scalp like former European 5000m champion Jesus Espana.

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Nick McCormick and Andy Vernon delivered solid times of 13:32.88 and 13:38.10 for third and fifth respectively behind Collis Birmingham‘s (AUS) Olympic qualifier of 13:15.57 over 5000m respectively to move into the top two positions of the early year UK lists in the distance.

For that matter, it could be particularly promising for McCormick’s 1500m ambitions in summer, having run in the 3:40.80 a couple of weeks ago.

Julia Bleasdale smashed her PB over 1500m as she posted 4:16.56 to slice over three secs off her previous marker for fourth as Zoe Buckman was a comprehensive winner in 4:11.65.

Over to the States, Chris O’Hare started off his new season to a brisk pace as he commanded the men’s 1000m in a big PB of 2:20.99 on the first day of the Meyo Invitational in Indiana, doubling up over 3000m later today.

Up in Canada, Tyrone Edgar improved to a SB of 6.72 secs over 60m at Saskatoon, his fastest since 2009.

The McCain Indoor City Challenge in Sheffield is under way and rising multi-event prospect Katarina Johnson-Thompson has started a busy day in striking manner as she set a new UK U20 indoor record of 6.39m, setting a stirring tone to the meeting.

Isobel Pooley could emerge as a hope to represent Britain in the Olympics as she cleared a substantial PB of 1.88m, a UK lead, and even attempted three times at a would-be world indoor qualifier of 1.92m in the wake, saying all week she was feeling on fire.

Jessica Ennis reached a rather typical opener of 6.19m on the day to come second behind Abigail Irozuru, who set an indoor best of 6.30m, in the women’s long jump but moved up a notch to nail her fastest ever opener over the hurdles in 8.03 secs later, essentially restoring all-round parity with Chernova at this early stage.

Andy Pozzi kept on pounding out times on the verge of the qualifier for the World Indoor Champs as he ran an equal second-fastest ever of 7.67 secs, meaning that he has run four races within 0.02 secs so far this term – consistency to the full effect of the word!

On the track, Meghan Beesley showed that she could be on the brink of a breakthrough as she powered to easily her fastest time around this time of 54.08 secs over 400m while Marilyn Okoro took the 800m in 2:04.31 on her season debut.

Some very interesting times in the 400m at the Birmingham Games as Richard Buck has returned to the top of the UK lists in 46.93 secs while Rob Tobin won his heat in 4743 and Michael Bingham his in 47.61 secs. Luke Smallwood looked also lively to come first in his run in 47.68 secs.

In women, Shana Cox improved her SB to 53.08, an Istanbul qualifier, while Emily Diamond maintained her upsurge in a big PB of 54.19 secs, looking full of running at the end – a new force rising in the event?

In the men’s 60m semifinals, Richard Kilty blasted to a massive PB of 6.61 secs, marginally outside the Istanbul qualifying standard, to top qualifiers through, where Glasgow victor Mark Lewis-Francis will be missing as he seems to have suffered a rather slight hamstring injury.

Christian Malcolm was through in 6.77 secs on his first outing of the winter too but most athletes opted to pull out of the final to save for the UK Trials next week, as happened with most events, and Harry Aikines-Ayreety came on top despite a relatively slow 6.74 secs.

The British Miler

The British Miler, launched by New Balance at the famous Armory in New York on Thursday, is a new multi-platform initiative that tracks the build-up of seven main contenders in the battle for three places on offer on the British Olympic team in the men’s 1500m in London.

Those seven hopefuls, a rather symbolic number, are Beijing finalist Andy Baddeley, James Brewer, Ricky Stevenson, Tom Lancashire, Colin McCourt, Lee Emanuel and Nick McCormick. The three first, incidentally, get their track season underway over the mile at the New Balance Games at the very same ground tonight, joined also by Colin McCourt and Mark Draper.

Actually, Brewer described the official launch of the project as one of the most surreal nights of his life on Facebook as it also captures magical moments of the golden past from the days of Sir Roger Bannister, the man who first broke the myth of the 4 minutes over the distance, and Derek Ibbotson up to the ‘Great Three’ of the late 70s & 80s in Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram.

The official premiere on British soil is to be held on February 23 in London.

As concerns London contenders, I would also like to add the names of James Shane and Niall Brooks while there shouldn’t be ruled out a big breakthrough by the likes of Adam Cotton, Stephen Davies, Chris O’Hare and Kris Gauson.

Mara Yamauchi has made a strong comeback to marathon racing as she came third in an Olympic A qualifying time of 2h27:24 in Yokohama, Japan, earlier on, gaining a firm foothold in the reckoning for selection on the British team for London in the process.

That was her first outing over the distance since her 2h26:16 on home soil in London last year to move second only to Paula Radcliffe in the British rankings this season, making the fifth Briton to engage the A qualifying territory in a battle royal for berths that is working up nothing less than fascinating and looks likely to go to the wire.

Interestingly, that time might sneak Yamauchi a place behind certain-to-be-named Radcliffe in the first issue of selections on December 5 on her major championship record having placed 6th in Bejing and 9th in Osaka 2007. But what is to come about in that aspect remains to be seen.

Louise Damen dropped out very early, just  after the 10km in 35:15, so apparently something wasn’t feeling alright with her and she will have now to find somewhere else to race over the distance in order to bolster up her own chances. She’s always in contention, though, as she has herself run a PB and an Olympic A qualifier of 2h30:00 in London this season.

As concerns the race itself, Yamauchi went halfway through safe, some way off the main pace, in sixth place in a split of 73:03 to work her way nicely through the second half into her eventual third, although she somewhat struggled in the dying stages as she covered the last 2,195m in just 8 mins.

Conditions were quite warm, mounting over 24C, and that seems to have taken a toll on the runners late into the race as most splits recommend.

Ryoko Kizaki and Yoshimi Ozaki made a Japanese one-two in a race carrying great weight in terms of Olympic qualification for the host nation clocking 2h26:32 and 2h26:49 respectively.

Results

http://www.yokohamawomensmarathon.com/common/pdf/jp/2011-11-20_yokohama_result_jp.pdf

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British Olympic qualifiers as of 20 November 2011

A standard: Paula Radcliffe 2h23:46, Mara Yamauchi 2h27:24, Jo Pavey 2h28:24, Claire Hallissey 2h29:27, Louise Damen 2h30:00

B standard: Susan Partridge 2h34:13, Alyson Dixon 2h34:51, Liz Yelling 2h34:58

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Back in Britain and over in Leeds, spectators were treated to a fascinating duel between miler-turned-‘chaser Jonny Taylor and miler Nick McCormick over the Abbey Dash 10km that was taken to the very end, with the former grinding out a slight edge that finally earned him the win in an identical time of 29:23.

US-based Luke Cragg was third in a personal best of 29:32 on the road where Matthew Barnes followed on in fourth in 29:54 (SB), just ahead of Joe McDonald by a mere second (29:55, PB).

Not far behind, U17 Mark Scott cut an intriguing figure as he ran an excellent 30:07 to mix it well with the big guys in 12th place, the fastest known time by an athlete of this age group. A name definitely to keep in mind henceforth as he will be making his way through the junior ranks.

Susan Partridge, herself a marathon Olympic hopeful on a B standard of 2h34:13 this term, was an easy victor in women in 33:48 (SB).

Turning down to Brighton, Sussex, former steeplechaser Ben Whitby enjoyed a useful win over the Brooks-powered event over the same distance in 29:52, a big PB.

As the curtain has gone down and the dust is still settling in the arena of the Alexander stadium following the UK Trials in Birmingham it is time to make to have a close look at and assess how the potential British team to contest the World Championships in Daegu is shaping up, with a week to spare on the qualification deadline.

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100m Dwain Chambers and Harry Aikines-Ayreety have sealed their places on the squad as they occupied the first two places at the Trials while Marlon Devonish has made a strong case to get the nod over the remaining third spot, missing out on an automatic place by a fraction and performing well when it mattered. Further, he looks as though he could go faster still.

Mark Lewis-Francis, disqualified in Saturday’s final, finds himself once again with his back to the wall, a situation he seems to love, and although he has worked miraculous escapes over the last year he will need something really special to pull it off again. He will definitely need to better Devonish in a likely run-off at Crystal Palace and that will probably require to run his fastest since 2002 (10.04 secs) to this effect.

Marlon Devonish may have done enough to claim the third spot in the 100m

Craig Pickering didn’t contest the final, I hope there is nothing wrong with him, but I think he’s done enough to get selected for the short relay – I don’t think he can get into the fray for that third spot though. On the other hand, James Dasaolu is done for the season with injury and Simeon Williamson is a long way from full fitness yet.

200m Christian Malcolm and James Ellington have likewise secured their own places as top two but third place is anyone’s guess following the results of the final at the Brum yesterday, where surprise third-place Luke Fagan hasn’t got a single B standard yet.

There are six more Brits holding A standards this season to pick from though Aikines-Ayreety may withdraw his interest after an injury in the heats and European U23 silver medalist James Alaka didn’t run over the weekend, a rather unexpected turn given his run of 20.60 secs into a -1.4m/sec in that final in Ostrava would recommend him as a strong contender.

Therefore, that probably leaves Leon Baptiste, Devonish, Danny Talbot and Richard Kilty in the frame still. I might go for Devonish again, who’s recently set 20.60 into a -0.9m/sec wind, in case he would like to bid to double up unless Talbot rediscovers that cutting edge he showed early season.

Last, I would keep an eye on a lively again Ricky Fifton, who might stage a dramatic late rally and surprise people.

400m There is still a blurry situation hanging over the event but there have also been encouraging performances over the last couple of days that offer hope that things could work out nicely in the end. Martyn Rooney has gained an effective grip on the qualification battle as he won the Trials in a big SB of 45.45 secs, a third B, in windy conditions so I’m feeling confident he is going to land the A standard at Crystal Palace to wrap his place up on the strength of that display.

Chris Clarke staged an astonishing return to form to get second in 45.61 secs carving out two Bs out of as many races, setting also a 45.65 secs in the heats, on only a month’s training and should come in line for a place if Rooney gets the A, although he might be coming in with a shout for that benchmark himself and take his fate in his own hands at this rate. What a talent!

Things may look bleak for Michael Bingham but he can take heart from his rally to win the B final in a well-improved 45.91 secs and hold still some hopes that he could bring off a dramatic turnround of the situation – a week is enough for much to happen and I wouldn’t write him off! An alternative, he has definitely got to be named in the relay and be named into the individual later if he runs inside 45.25 secs past the deadline.

I regard Richard Strachan has shown enough to be selected in the relay, where Dai Greene could figure as well, and from there on the remaining one or two places will be up for grabs between Nigel Levine, Richard Buck, Luke Lennon-Ford, Andrew Steele and Rob Tobin – he pulled up in the final, though, and seems to have withdrawn from the all-British B race at Crystal Palace.

800m Mike Rimmer needed a solid display to show he is firmly on his way back to form and got that, so I think he has ensured of his place holding an A of 1:45.12, while Andie Osagie ought to get at least that second B to book his place and to me he looks capable of a lot more than thattherefore I should expect both to be on the plane to Korea.

For the rest there is going to be a mountain to climb as none has got a single B yet though that fall in the heats could turn a blessing in disguise for Muchtar Mohammed, who is fresh and will be racing in Sweden tomorrow against a field that could draw him inside the targeted 1:46.30. Whereas the others will need until around Thursday to recover from three races back-to-back, with Joe Thomas and Gareth Warburton the other ones that look within calling distance of such a time on current form.

1500m James Shane, who totally destroyed the field in the final yesterday, needs one more B to qualify but has got to run the A standard on this sort of awesome form and seal his place in my view, even if it comes in a (Emsley Car) mile. Andy Baddeley is the only one that fulfils any criteria at the moment holding a B and being a top eight finalist in Beijing so should scrape in one way or another, where Nick McCormick has got an awful lot to do in the following days to stand a fair chance.

James Brewer has got plenty of ground to make in such a short space, Niall Brooks is still looking for some decent form and Colin McCourt looks totally off colour.

5000m Mo Farah has come out earlier today to clarify that he will be running both long distances in Daegu, contrary to the original misinterpreting report on BBC, as he only meant that he needs to take one event at a time. In particular, seeing off Bernard Lagat in a sprint finish equated to passing his ultimate test, with flying colours at that, and must have made up his mind on the double-up.

Chris Thompson has missed plenty of racing over the last couple of month and has got to go out and grab the A qualifier straight away although at the moment he is entered in the 3000m race at Crystal Palace. But it seems that there is a late 5000m lined up on the schedule so he could eventually switch there.

U23 Tom Farrell has got a B qualifier of 13:26.59 but hasn’t raced since the NCAA Champs and surprisingly requested not to be considered for the European U23 Champs where he would be favourite for gold, so a serious doubt, and Andy Vernon is probably the only other who could grind out a time inside 13:27.

10000m World No1 and unbeaten outdoors over any distance Mo Farah will be the only British entry as Chris Thompson wishes to focus on the 5000m instead this season.

Marathon There will be no individual but only team competitors for Britain in this event, namely Lee Merrien, Andrew Lemoncello, Thomas Abyu, Ben Whitby and Dave Webb.

Lawrence Clarke and Gianni Frankis top two finish in the 110m hurdles could blow the qualification battle open to many eventualities

110mh Andy Turner has long ensured of his own place on the team in effect but William Sharman‘s game could be on the line if either Lawrence Clarke or Gianni Frankis gets the A standard within the next few days. They both beat him convincingly as they fought neck and neck to the line in 13.58 and 13.59 secs, gaining a third and second B standard apiece, and that -0.8m/sec wind in the final suggests that they can make the higher grade.

400mh Jack Green found himself in no-man’s-land when forced to withdraw from the Trials through illness on Friday but late the following day was back in the driving seat for the third remaining place as European silver medalist Rhys Williams failed to place among the top two, getting off to a very poor start that let him terribly down.  On top of that, having got a lane for a third Diamond League appearance to cement his place so everything looks well back on track for the new European U23 champion.

A little clumsy at the end maybe bug Nathan Woodward holds on to his first senior UK title and an automatic place for Daegu

Dai Greene was always the owner of a place and Nathan Woodward secured his by winning the UK Trials so save some dramatic late twist owed to Williams, or lively-looking again Richard Davenport or Rick Yates, these three should be representing Britain in Daegu at the turn of the month.

3000mSC Luke Gunn and Rob Mullett line up at Crystal Palace and hopefully one of them could edge under the B standard of 8:32.00, but would that be enough? U23 James Wilkinson and, maybe, Mark Draper could also hold hope of getting there too.

20 & 50km Race Walking Britain will not be represented in both walking events.

Decathlon Daniel Awde needs 111 pts to reach the B standard of 8000pts and Sunday saw him run a huge PB of 46.04 secs over 400m, the fastest ever by a British decathlete, so will be hopefully having a last-ditch crack at it.

Long Jump Chris Tomlinson and Greg Rutherford are certain to be named on the team next week following a superb season so far but new British champion Julian Reid needs desperately two Bs to qualify, lying an agonizing 2cm short (8.08m). He is jumping at Crystal Palace and hopefully can line up another competition to clinch that third place in dramatic fashion – or could JJ Jegede bounce on his PB of 8.04m on Saturday and complete the turn-up?

Triple Jump Phillips Idowu has clinched his place from the moment he took off the board to that winning jump of 17.73m in Berlin two years ago but Nathan Douglas is missing the entire season through injury.

Two-time Olympic finalist Larry Achike landed a mere 2cm short of the B standard at his very first attempt yesterday but pulled up after a foul in the second – hopefully there is nothing serious with him as I’ve picked up that he was stretchered off. Julian Reid isn’t lying far off the B standard either at 16.77m.

High Jump Tom Parsons won on countback to confirm his berth for Daegu while European bronze medalist Martyn Bernard and Rob Grabarz both rose over a B standard of 2.28m. The latter two need both a second B to be considered but if one of them betters the A on top of that all three could line up in Korea.

Pole Vault Steve Lewis hasn’t really got going this season but has done enough to secure his place. Neither Max Eaves nor Luke Cutts look like they could provide an upset as concerns qualification.

Shot Put On the face of it, none looks capable of landing the 20m mark twice, not even Carl Myerscough who has shifted his focus on the discus this season.

Discus Everything very much turned upside down as Abdul Buhari and Myerscough clinched the two automatic places and it is going to come down to an effective throw-off between new European U23 champion Lawrence Okoye and Brett Morse at Crystal Palace for that coveted third spot.

My view? I would have loved to see both there but if I had to pick one that would be rather Lawrence at the moment. He is technically erratic, but mentally very competitive, and while he could plunge below 60m he could also pull out something in the 66-67m anytime and snatch a medal at the same time. He is very unpredictable but that could go both ways and since there is a ‘banker’ like a very consistent Buhari to make a solid bid for the final I would gamble on him.

Brett is a more rounded and complete article but has yet to prove himself when it matters and needs work in that department. But he will come good eventually. I don’t think he could range lower than 61-62m in Daegu but at the same time I don’t think he could go over 64m – but I hope I’m wrong in that.

Hammer Alex Smith drew closer to the B standard courtesy of his new PB of 73.26m but sounded desperately short of competitions to achieve his aim – hopefully, something will come his way.

Javelin James Campbell doesn’t seem like getting back his early season form that saw him hurl a 80.18m and bound to miss out. On the other hand, could Lee Doran provide a last-gasp double strike and save the day for the event? He improved to 78.63m at the Trials to come within calling distance of the B standard and he should hope.