July is always the peak month for sport and 2015 is no exception as the English Schools in Gateshead clashes with the European U23s here in Tallinn. Yesterday I was on Centre Court in row Z unlike Paula who was in row 3 of the Royal Box; still we all watched the same matches with Murray & Djokovic winning in straight sets. A late drive up to Birmingham ready for a very early flight via Frankfurt to Tallinn where we arrived 15 minutes early at surely one of the nicest airports in the world.
19-year-old Dina Asher-Smith and 21-year-old Chujinda Ujah are British sprint queen and king respectively, winning the 100m in the final events of an engrossing British Championships. Dina, who has already smashed the British record this year, broke the championship record - held by Evelyn Ashford from the early 90s, yes there was a time when overseas athletes not qualified to compete for GB ran at these championships. CJ, who went sub-10 last year, won in 10.10 seconds into a -0.6 headwind, beating European Champion Dasaolu in the process. But the youngsters were also showing how to do it in the middle distances.
While the tabloids will probably focus on so-called 'plastic Brits', the performance of the second day of the British Championships was undoubtedly that of Isobel Pooley breaking the British high jump record outdoors with an impressive 1.97m*. Only two women have gone higher in the world this year, and if the delighted Pooley had cleared 2m, which she attempted, she would have topped this year's rankings along with Spain's Ruth Beitia. Isobel had already won the competition after World Junior Champion Morgan Lake went out with a 1.88m clearance, but the tension mounted as she attempted to secure qualification for the World Championships by getting a second qualifying performance in 2015 at 1.94m - Lake has already qualified. It took her 3 attempts - which makes the first time clearance at 1.97m all the more remarkable! Isobel Pooley - take a bow!
This year's British Championships promises to be one of the most competitive ever, despite the inevitable no-shows, but the opening evening was always going to feel too lightweight with it's truncated timetable. Whether it's due to TV coverage - or rather lack of it - or some other factor, Friday night at the British Championships has to be re-thought. It was the most sparse evening that I can ever remember. With just three sets of heats (2, 3 and 5 heats respectively) now only the most committed of fans would think the journey worthwhile. I can remember not just a full programme of heats, but even a final being run on a Friday - am I mistaken in my memories of one year when all stages of the 100m were run on a Friday??
But for those of us who enjoy watching all through the rounds at a championship - count me in there - it certainly whetted the appetite for the next two days.
21 June: midsummer day. Usually spent somewhere warm and sunny watching the European Team Championship. Not in 2015 with the event allocated to some remote corner of far distant Russia I decided to give it a miss and instead take in the U20 and U23 championships in Bedford.
With selection for the European Juniors (U20), European U23, and World Youth (U18) teams up for grabs and searching for qualifying times meant competition was going to be fierce. A golden opportunity to see how the next generation of athletes were progressing.