Jeremiah Azu celebrates on the podium after his victory in Cardiff. Pics: Owen Morgan

Jeremiah Azu Blasts To Meeting Record To Spark Welsh Victory Treble

By Owen Morgan

Teenage sprint sensation Jeremiah Azu helped Wales produce a spectacular finish to the Under-20 Indoor Athletics International against England in Cardiff on Sunday.

A strong and experienced England team had dominated proceedings for much of the afternoon as they set a number of individual and meeting records in the process.

But the young Welsh team finished strongly to claim three event wins as the meeting drew to a close at Cardiff’s National Indoor Athletics Centre.

The Welsh revival was sparked by Cardiff AC’s Azu, who stormed to victory in a new meeting record of 6.75 ahead of England’s Alwayne Campbell and helped the Welsh 4x200m relay squad to victory.

The winning Welsh 4x200m relay team.

Azu has enjoyed a spectacular indoor season, winning a senior bronze medal at the British Indoor Championships, claiming the sprint double at the English Age Group Championships in Sheffield and setting a personal best of 6.65 at the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham.

Speaking after his latest success, the 17-year-old said: “I’m very happy, I knew the championship record was within reach, so I was trying to get that today.”

Having waited so long for a Welsh win in the international match, another came along a few minutes later thanks to Remi Adebiyi in the men’s 800m.

Remi Adebiyi wins the 800m race.

The Newport athlete ran a perfectly judged race, biding his time early on before taking the lead in the latter stages and producing a devastating kick for the line to win in a big personal best of 1:55.41.

Fellow Welsh athlete Benjamin Reynolds, who had led in the early stages, finished second in a time of 1:56.50 to register a Welsh one-two.

Adebiyi said afterwards: “It was amazing, I achieved a two second PB. I never normally do 800s. Last week I did a 1500 in Sheffield, so this was a good speed workout for me. I normally let someone else take it out and then I back my speed at the end.”

The Welsh team registered their third match win of the day in the final race of the event, the men’s 4x200m relay.

Swansea Harrier Steffan Dylan Jones sent the Welsh team on their way with a fine first leg which was taken on by Menai’s Zachary Price, who ensured he handed over Jeremiah Azu with the Welsh team in the lead.

The 60m individual winner showed his raw speed to open up a gap to hand over to Aaron Jolly on the final leg.

With the home crowd cheering him on, Jolly brilliantly held his nerve and form to bring Wales home ahead of the English team in a time of 1:28.96.

Jolly said of his final leg: “We had a bit of a gap so it wasn’t too bad, but I had to go as fast as I could and hope it worked out, and it did.”

Sarah Omoregie, of finished second in the women’s shot put.

A packed day of high quality athletics started with the men’s and women’s shot put competition which saw England’s Lewis Byng claim victory with the final throw of the men’s competition, also claiming a meeting record of 17.61m.

England’s Serena Vincent won the women’s title with a meeting record-equalling throw of 14:68. Sarah Omoregie claimed second place for Wales with a throw of 14.54.

The early English successes set the tone for much of the afternoon as they proceeded to take maximum points in a number of events, including the men’s long jump where Dominic Ogbechie produced another meeting record of 7.66m.

Amy Hunt was another English athlete who claimed a meeting record of 7:37 in the 60m, as the international match ended in an overall win for the visitors by 145 points to 70, despite some excellent individual performances by the young Welsh team.

As well as the Wales versus England clash there were a number of other races including the Welsh 3,000m Championships, which saw an impressive display of front running from Abed Teweldebrhan.

Abed Teweldebrhan takes the Welsh 3,000m indoor title.

The Newport Harrier took the title in a time of 8:35.74 ahead of Aberdare duo Daniel Bodman (9:02.24) and Matthew Evans (9:35.62).

The meeting also saw an attempt on the British Masters M40 mile record by former Wales and Great Britain middle distance star James Thie.

Taking a short break from his duties in the event’s commentary box, Thie took to the front right from the gun, virtually running alone for the entire race apart from lapping opponents.

The Cardiff Metropolitan University Director of Athletic Performance and coach of the successful Team Thie training group, stopped the clock in 4:25.45, just outside Ian Gillespie’s record set in 2013.

James Thie just misses out on the British masters mile record.

Before heading back to his commentary position, Thie said: “It’s bittersweet, I’d set my hopes on the British Masters 40 record which is 4.23.1. I thought it was well within my capability but I thought I’d make it hard for myself because I wanted to do it solo, front running.

“I coach 30 or 40 runners who could have all paced me, but I wanted it to be a true run record. So I’m disappointed, but also pleased I got so close.”

The large crowd also enjoyed the opportunity of seeing Paralympic and World Champion Jonnie Peacock competing in one of the afternoon’s guest races where he finished 5th in the men’s 60ms.

There were also four age group 4x200m relay events, which provided excellent entertainment for the enthusiastic crowd.
See the Welsh Athletics website for a full set of results.

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