By Rob Cole
Bethan Davies proved she is on course for a medal shot at the Commonwealth Games in two months’ time as she smashed another British record to strike gold over 5K at the British Indoor Championships on Sunday.
The Cardiff race walker, who had joined in the 10th anniversary celebrations of parkrun in the Welsh capital the day before, led her Team Wales team mate Heather Lewis home at Birmingham in a UK best time of 21 min, 25.37 sec.
It was four seconds short of her lifetime best over the distance outdoors and was a timely boost ahead of her assault on the Commonwealth title on the Gold Cost. Lewis had the silver medal snatched from her grasp when she was disqualified after the race, although there was a Welsh Under 20 record performance for Swansea’s Megan Stratton-Thomas (27.55.39) in seventh place.
While Davies was the only Welsh athlete to strike gold, there were three bronze medal winning performances and a host of other personal bests. The Gold Coast-bound duo Tom Marshall and Sally Peake both emerged with medals in their respective events, while Cardiff sprinter Sam Gordon ran two of the best races of his life to take third place in the 60 metres.
Having missed out on a Commonwealth Games trip by a fraction of a second, he showed that disappointment hasn’t dented his confidence or desire as he twice recorded life-time bests of 6.67 sec to get onto the medal podium.
The Matt Elias coached athlete moved up to sixth on the Welsh all-time list with a second-placed finish in his semi-final with his first 6.67 sec timing. He then pulled out all the stops to repeat that performance in the final to follow home one of Britain’s World Championship sprint relay heroes, Chijindu Ujah (6.56 sec) and Andrew Robertson (6.62 sec).
Peake managed a third time clearance at 4.15 metres to take bronze in the pole vault, her 12th UK Championship medal indoors and out over the last eight years, while Marshall earned his first over 1500 metres.
Having taken the race out the Cardiff middle distance expert was passed by four athletes with 400 metres to go. He stayed calm and found an incredible kick in the last lap to move into third and earn a ticket to this weekend’s IAAF World Tour indoor event in Glasgow.
Marshall clocked a season’s best time of 3.47.52 to follow home Jake Wightman and Charlie Grice. Joining him in Scotland will be the European Junior 1500 metre champion Jake Heyward, who captured the Welsh Under 20 record with sixth place in 3.49.26.
Team Wales member Melissa Courtney did all she could to capture a World Indoors qualifying time in the women’s 3000, but after front-running for the first 2K she was just run out of the medals with 800 metres to go. Scottish superstar Laura Muir won in 8.46.71 with Eilish McColgan second (8.50.87), Rosie Clarke third (8.52.49) and Courtney fourth (9.01.72)
Paralympians Aled Davies and Olivia Breen distinguished themselves in the able-bodied ranks as they competed in the shot-putt and long jump.
Davies smashed his personal best with the heavier implement with sixth place in 15.42 metres, while Breen, who is preparing to compete at her second Commonwealth Games in the F38 Long Jump and T38 100m, reached 4.58 metres in the long jump.
The 17-year-old Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist Sarah Omoregie finished just out of the medals in the women’s shot putt, but still came home with a Welsh Under 20 indoor record of 14.88 metres to surpass Adele Nicoll.