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Team GB win Kelvin Hall International

Team GB Celebration - Kelvin Hall 2012

Team GB Celebration - Kelvin Hall 2012

The Aviva GB & NI Team enjoyed a rousing and successful 2012 send-off from the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena, Glasgow in the 21st and final Aviva International Match to be staged at the venue this afternoon.

And providing the most thrilling finale for the day’s match with a heart-stopping 1500m victory was the double World medalist Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) who raised the roof with the decibel-breaking crowd support proving vital in his win.

Farah, who was stepping down in distance considerably to take on 1500m specialist Kenyan Augustine Choge, not only beat the man with a significantly better PB, but set a stadium record for the Hall that will now last forever.

It was an untidy race, with Farah and Choge exchanging the occasional bump, but Farah took to the front in definitive style and held off the sprint finish of the middle distance man to make it the perfect end to the day’s action at Kelvin Hall.

“It was a good test, it was a good battle, I didn’t want to give up the inside line so a couple of times I had to dig in,” he said.

“I had to push him off, I wasn’t trying to hurt him, I was just trying to make him aware that someone was there. The main thing is, it’s a win to start 2012 and that’s good. I couldn’t believe how much noise was coming out of it [the crowd], it was unbelievable, I’ve never experienced that in my life!”

It had been a slower start to the afternoon, but the event soon came to life when the Aviva GB & NI Team were given their first significant boost of the day by youngster Danny Talbot (Dan Cossins) who took a cracking win in the 200m.

Talbot, who was competing against reigning world 100m bronze medalist Kim Collins, started superbly and with his trademark strong finish, came off the final tight bend and strode away from the field for a popular victory in front of the Kelvin Hall faithful in 21.17. Collins was second in 21.39.

Afterwards, a delighted Talbot said: “I’m very pleased with that and now I’ll hopefully move on and have a good outdoor season.

“In terms of preparation, my training over the winter has changed a lot and I think that’s been really beneficial. I was pretty much training through this weekend because my target is the Aviva UK Indoor Trials and Championships.  I really want to defend my title which will give me a good comparison as to where I was at this time last year.”

Talbot’s win acted as a crucial spur for the Aviva GB & NI team as in the very next race, debutante Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) used her first ever race in a GB vest to lay down an impressive marker with a win over 200m and a superb PB of 23.68 to match. Second went to Germany’s Cathleen Tschirch with 23.70.

“Charles van Commenee had a quick talk with me before and said “Go out there and have fun” and I was really nervous before the start,” she said.

“My coach has been telling me that I’m in good shape and that I would surprise myself so I took that with me on the line. If he is believing in me like that, then I should take confidence from it. The main aim is the outdoor season but this is such a good way to start the year!”

There was then a third consecutive win on the track for Aviva GB & NI with youngster Joe Thomas (Arwyn Davies) blasting away with 200m to go to stun a strong field and score an emphatic 800m victory. In fact the youngster had put in such a significant gap ahead of his rivals he almost slowed in disbelief before crossing the line in what was still to be a significant personal best of 1:47.35 – his final lap of 25.66 doing significant damage to the rest of the line-up.

“I’m really pleased. The first 100m was tough and I felt like I really had to try to stamp down my authority but I tired myself out a little bit,” Thomas admitted.

“It came to about 500m to go though and I felt really comfortable. I thought that was a good opportunity for me to move a little early and just went for it. I thought that Lalang would come screaming back at me down the last 100m but it didn’t pan out that way. It was the perfect race for me!”

Later on in the day, enjoying a great win in front of the Kelvin Hall spectators was Jeanette Kwakye (Michael Afilaka), whose 7.26 win put the Aviva GB & NI team in the competition driving seat with just two events to go.

Kwakye blasted out of the blocks to put daylight between herself and the field, finishing a hefty two-tenths ahead of Germany’s Yasmin Kwadwo.

Yet, ever the perfectionist, Kwakye felt there was still work to be done:

“I’m happy, I’ll take that. It’s nice to know that certain things we are doing in training are working. I’m feeling confident in my training and I’m confident in my coach, but I’ve still got a long way to go.”

Following that performance was an equally strong run by Mark Lewis Francis (Linford Christie) who took the men’s 60m win ahead of Kim Collins by the thickness of his GB vest in 6.65. It was a nervy wait for the Aviva GB & NI supporters before the win was confirmed, but the former Olympic Champion was confident and set off on his lap of honour.

“This indoor season my aim is just to gain speed. My coaches and I aren’t focussing on anything individually, we thought we’d do an indoor season just to break up the winter training so I’m happy with that victory and there’s a lot more to come,” he promised.

“I love it in Glasgow, it’s my second time winning here so it’s always a pleasure to come back and represent the Aviva GB & NI team.”

Earlier in the day, Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) and Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas) both lined up in what was expected to be a potentially explosive 1500m race, but were beaten by Germany’s  Denise Krebs in a slow run 4:25.09.

England, who stayed in third place until approximately halfway, then pushed to the front with Thomas following her. Thomas lost some ground when colliding with Russia’s Irina Marecheva, and also tried to pick up on the two leaders but found herself in between the two groups. On the run-in England was pipped over the line by Krebs, finishing just two one hundredths behind, whilst Thomas was passed by Marecheva in the closing strides to come fourth.

After, England said: “Today was a lot of fun. I had a race plan and I didn’t intend to go that early but I had to because that’s how the race was going and I was pleased with how I responded to what the other girls were doing.

“Denise ran a great race and really put herself out at the front so she was always in the mix and congratulations to her.”

Also taking second place on the afternoon was Aviva GB & NI team captain Helen Clitheroe (John Nuttall), who ran a swift 3000m to come second in 8:45.59 to Kenya’s Helen Obiri , the winner in 8:42.59. It was a good performance from Clitheroe, a winner here last year, returning from the UKA/London Marathon altitude camp in Kenya and clocking her second fastest 3000m time ever.

On the field there was a good afternoon’s work for Yamile Aldama (Frank Attoh) who won the women’s triple jump for some valuable maximum team points. Aldama jumped the only 14m jump with a winning leap of 14.03m.

She said: “I’m happy with that performance because we’ve been trying to work on a few things in training that I’m not used to, like running faster to the board and really working through the jump,” she revealed.

“I usually jump too high and I lose the speed. I think I did those things well today so I’m very happy.”

Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) went in the women’s long jump for Aviva GB & NI and had a solid opener for her 2012 season with 6.59m for second behind Darya Klishina for Russia with 6.75m. It was a strong performance from Proctor who put in the best indoor jump from a British female for 15 years.

After she said: “It’s one of my best starts to the season ever. My training has been great. Really hard but great!

“The indoor events are a good warm up for the outdoors. I use this as a gradual step so hopefully I’ll do well indoors and that should mean I will do better outdoors. It’s a good start and I’m really happy with my performance here today!”

Shana Cox (Lloyd Cowan) had a strong 400m performance for third in her two-lap race, leading at the break and up until the last 75m. Fading slightly she was overtaken by Russia’s Julia Terekhova and USA’s Natasha Hastings, clocking 53.84.

“My coach wanted me to go out nice and easy and stay in control then to pick it up with 300m to go,” she said.

“It’s my first major race this year and I’ve just come off a long flight, so I’ve got to be ok with it!”

In the high jump, Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed), who leapt an impressive high jump personal best of 2.34m just last weekend, was third with 2.26m in a competition won in 2.29m by Russian Aleksandr Shustov.

“I’m not particularly pleased with my performance today,” Grabarz reflected. “I was looking to jump at least 2.30m so it’s a bit disappointing. I think that last week may have taken more out of me than I realised but apart from that, I’m not sure, there are a few technical tweaks that I could make to try and jump better.”

In the men’s pole vault, there were two GB representatives with Andrew Sutcliffe (Julien Raffalli-Ebezant) and Steve Lewis (Dan Pfaff) lining up for the Commonwealth Select and Aviva GB & NI respectively. Finishing in third and fourth with 5.40m and 5.30m, the competition was won by German Karsten Dilla with 5.72m.

In the men’s 60m hurdles, Andy Turner (Lloyd Cowan) struggled to make an impact. The World Championship bronze medalist got out of the blocks slowly and finished fifth in a race won by Russian Konstantin Shabanov in 7.54. Meanwhile Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold), running for the Commonwealth select team,  ran a PB of 7.67 to dip for third place in an impressive season opener.

In the women’s sprint hurdles race Gemma Bennett (Lloyd Cowan) had her work cut out in a world class field but had a solid run for fifth in 8.16, just seven one-hundredths slower than race winner and World Championships silver medalist Danielle Carruthers.

The men’s 400m race saw Richard Buck (Steve Fudge) finish in fourth place in 47.63 behind Russia’s winner Pavel Trenikhin in 46.68. Buck ran an intelligent race keeping off the kerb and showed good strength in the final strides.

Finally, making her Aviva GB & NI debut, Claire Gibson had a tough baptism in the women’s 800m race, finishing fifth in 2:08.16. The winner was the USA’s  Erica Moore in an indoor PB of 2:02.86.