By Owen Morgan
Sam Gordon led a Welsh sprinting showcase at the national indoor championships on Saturday.
The Cardiff athlete took the men’s 60m title with a championship best performance as all eight finalists finished under seven seconds.
In a medal clean sweep for Cardiff Athletics on their home NIAC track, Gordon claimed gold in 6.69 ahead of silver medallist Jeremiah Azu and third place Dewi Hammond, who both clocked 6.81.
There were personal bests for last year’s champion Arron Owen in fourth, Swansea Harrier Max Heavens in sixth and Menai under -20 athlete Zachary Price, who was eighth in 6.97.
After the race, Olympic and European Championship hopeful Gordon praised the quality of sprinting in Wales.
The Welsh indoor and outdoor champion said: “It went a bit quiet for a while but I’ve said it so many times before, we are in a really good place with Welsh sprinting at the moment.
“I think we are going to start shocking a load of people. I don’t want to say too much because usually when I start talking I jinx it, so I hope things go well for Wales.”
Gordon was also delighted to see Welsh teenage sensation Azu back in action and claiming the silver medal after injury had robbed him of gold at last summer’s European Under-20 Championships.
“I’m just happy to see him back and healthy, he had quite a tough season last year. We are talking all the time, people like Josh Brown, Jez, we train in the same place, we all see each other.
“We are checking and talking with each other every day to check how everyone is getting on, so I’m just happy to see him healthy and back out here running . It’s amazing to see.”
Gordon was pleased with his own performance after being disqualified at last year’s Welsh indoor championships and what he felt was a disappointing performance at the British Championships final.
“After last year’s DQ and the British Champs bottle out, I was in a dark place, but I’m back now to where I left off.
“Winter has been going really, really well. I’m actually really happy. We’ve put in a lot of work. I’ve been prepping more for the 100m rather than the 60 because, obviously, it will help later on in the season trying to get Olympic and European qualifying times.
“The Olympics are high on my list, in fact, that’s the only thing I’ve got my eyes set on right now. As long as we keep on going the way we are, I think we can get there.”
There was an equally impressive performance in the women’s 60m final where Deeside AAC’s Shannon Malone defended her title in style.
The Loughborough student clocked 7.52 to claim gold just ahead of Birchfield Harrier Mica Moore and Bristol’s Hannah Williams, who claimed a PB of 7.56 in third.
Malone said afterwards: “I’m absolutely over the moon, I had a bit of pressure coming in because everyone was like ‘is she going to retain her title’ and I’m glad I did.
“I took a bit of a risk to use this as my season’s opener. Normally I’ll do a race before a big championship, but I thought ‘you know what, I’ve just got to get through the three rounds and execute each race’ and I did. It gives me a bit of confidence going forward for the rest of the indoor season.”
Malone is now setting her sights on competing at next month’s British Indoor Championships in Glasgow and the British Universities Championships(BUCS).
“I think I’d like to go to the British Champs and do some opens and I’m hoping to do BUCS but it’s quite a competitive field and you can only take two athletes. So hopefully I can get my time down a bit and maybe do BUCS.
“For outdoors, I’m going on a four week warm weather training camp in America, so hopefully I can get a few races out there then carry on with my outdoor season, so I’m really happy.
“I’d like to get the Commonwealth Games 100m standard, which is around 11.4. I’ve moved to that stage where I’m not an under 23 anymore, I’m a senior, so you’ve got to take things seriously. So, I want to get my time down, run 11.4 and start making teams.”
Another athlete to retain her sprint title was Melissa Roberts, who cruised to a hugely impressive victory in the 200m final.
The Birchfield Harrier clocked 24.54 ahead of Samantha Griffiths, who was second in 25.84 and Swansea Harrier Armani Williams who claimed bronze in 26.40.