Jeremiah Azu on his way to breaking the Welsh 100m record in Manchester on Saturday. Pic: Owen Morgan

Jeremiah Azu Smashes Welsh 100m Record . . . And Ex-Holder Christian Malcolm Is There To See It

By Owen Morgan

Christian Malcolm’s 22-year-old Welsh 100-metre record was finally broken by rising star Jeremiah Azu in an electric display of sprinting on day one of the UK Athletics Championships.

Thunderstorms had been forecast for Manchester, but it was Azu and new British record-holder Zharnel Hughes who provided the lightening on the track in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium.

The pair literally went face-to-face in the final stages of their semi-final which saw  Hughes just edge the win in 10.06, but it was Azu’s time of 10.08 which broke the Welsh record.

And Malcolm was there amongst the cheering crowds along the home straight to see his record fall.

In fact, the former Great Britain star and Welsh sprinting legend had predicted Azu would be the man to better his mark when the young Cardiff athlete won the UK title at the same stadium 12 months ago.

The way Azu and Hughes had taken time to eyeball each other in the closing stages of the semi suggested there may be even faster times and more sparks to come in the final.

But if the prospect of a rematch between the British record holder and the reigning champion wasn’t dramatic enough, there was an even more spectacular light show going on in the skies as the athletes returned to the track for the evening final.

Fork lightening lit up the leaden Manchester skies while thunderclaps ripped through the air. The heavens opened in a manner even locals well used to the city’s rainy reputation must have raised an eyebrow at.

Torrential rain poured down as the athletes took their marks, spectators straining their eyes to see the action through the deluge.

And it was Hughes who splashed his way to the line to take the title in 10.03 ahead of Reece Prescod and Eugene Amo Dadzie.

Azu crossed the line in 10.28 before falling to the sodden track clutching his leg in pain. After receiving attention the youngster was thankfully able to walk from the arena.

Azu may have missed out on a place on the podium but there was a Welsh medal to celebrate on the first day of the championships.

Having won the Welsh Senior Championships two weeks ago, Patrick Swan was lining up in the men’s shot put final.

Patrick Swan pictured after receiving his bronze medal. Pic: Owen Morgan

The Cornwall AC athlete, who won bronze at this event last year and at the UK indoor champs in February, equalled those results with another bronze medal here.

Swan threw a best of 17.59 in the second round to ensure his place on the medal rostrum alongside champion Scott Lincoln and runner-up Youcef Zatat.

There was further Welsh success in the 1500m heats which saw World Championships hopeful Melissa Courtney-Bryant start her campaign to reach Budapest.

Melissa Courtney-Bryant books her place in Sunday’s 1500m final by winning her heat. Pic: Owen Morgan

The 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, who has the World Championship qualifying time, cruised into Sunday’s final with an impressive display which saw her win her heat in a time of 4:15.61.

The men’s 1500m heats saw Piers Copeland and James Heneghan also flying the flag.

Both joined Courtney in Sunday’s finals with Copeland doing so by winning his heat in equally comfortable fashion, clocking 3:47.55.

Fellow Pontypridd Roadent Heneghan won through by virtue of finishing fourth in his much faster heat in a time of 3:42.93.

Piers Copeland on his way to winning his 1500m heat to book his place in Sunday’s final. Pic: Owen Morgan

The men’s 400m heats saw Swansea Harrier Joe Brier confidently book his place in Sunday’s final with a dominant display in his heat, which he won in 46.78.

The action continues in Manchester on today.

Full results from day one and Sunday’s timetable can be found on the British Athletics website.

 

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