Hannah Brier 2024

Hannah Brier set a new championship best on her way to winning the 400m title. Pic: Owen Morgan.

Wales’ Fastest Woman, Hannah Brier, Has A New Young Rival

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By Owen Morgan

Wales’ fastest woman Hannah Brier gained one championship record and lost another on a historic weekend of athletics in Cardiff.

The first record to fall at the Welsh Indoor Senior and Under-15 Athletics Championships was the number of competitors taking part.

An entry of 614 athletes at Cardiff’s National Indoor Athletics Centre (NIAC) made it the biggest in the event’s 48-year history.

And the huge turn out helped produce a glut of outstanding displays including new Welsh age grade records and championship best performances.

One of those championship bests fell to Brier who eclipsed World Championships medallist Seren Bundy Davies’ ten-year-old 400m mark of 55.36 when the Swansea Harrier won her semi-final in 54.16.

Brier went on to win the final in 54.37, ahead of Sian Harry, of Belgrave Harriers in 55.27 and Ffion Mair Roberts, of Menai Track and Field, who clocked 56.01.

But while Brier may have gained one championship best, she lost another to Aliyah Afolabi, who had a weekend to remember.

On Saturday, the Cardiff Archer set a new championship best performance of 7.62 when she won the Under-15 60m title.

Aliyah Afolabi twice broke the championship record on her way to winning the under-15 200m title. Pic: Owen Morgan

And on Sunday, the youngster completed the sprint double when she added the Under-15 200m title – twice improving Brier’s championship best performance of 25.42 set in 2012.

In the semi-final Afolabi clocked 25.30, before smashing her own record in winning the final, where she stopped the clock at 24.62.

Brier, who competed at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games aged 16, was the first to praise Afolabi’s performances across the weekend, including improving her own championship record.

The two-time Commonwealth Games sprinter said: “Those records, I’ve got a few through the age groups and it’s lovely to see youngsters come through and break them.

“That’s what records are there for. The fact that these youngsters are thinking ‘Oh, I could break that record’ is great. The young girl who broke my record is outstanding, absolutely outstanding.

“I say to everyone, she’s so talented. It’s unbelievable. The way she’s built, the way she runs. Her attitude is amazing. She’s definitely one to watch for the future, one hundred percent.

“I knew the record would go, so I was watching the race and really hoping she would take it because she’s a lovely girl, a really nice girl.”

Brier, who only converted from the shorter sprints to 400m last summer, was also delighted with her own performances over the weekend.

Wales’ fastest ever woman over 100m said: “It’s my first 400m season indoors so I’m really happy. I just wanted to go out there and run and see what happened.

“I’m in really good shape, training’s been going really well so to come away with the gold and put down a fairly decent time, I’m really happy with that.

“I’m so new to the 400 that I keep asking my coach Matt Elias, ‘is this good?’ and he’s like ‘yeah, Hannah, it’s good!’

“I’m really happy, really confident. I’ve got a few more indoor 400s to come, away from NIAC because NIAC is renowned for having really tight bends! It will be nice to stretch my legs and see what I can do on a really quick track.

“I’d love to run 53 low indoors. I know I’m capable of it. It’s just putting it together. That’s why 400m is so exciting because you can run it in so many completely different ways and the outcome will be different every time. So, I’m really excited.

“That’s the goal, putting a nice solid foundation ready for outdoors and to go from there.”

The best individual medal haul across the weekend came from Deeside athlete Aidan Angilletta, who amassed a remarkable four under-15 titles and a bronze medal.

Aidan Angilletta on his way to winning five under-15 medals at the Welsh Indoor Athletics Championships. Pic: Owen Morgan

On Saturday, Angilletta jumped a personal best of 12.18m to go top of the 2024 British under-15 triple jump rankings and set a new championship best performance. He enjoyed further success in the under-15 boys long jump and 60m hurdles.

The multi-talented athlete returned on Sunday to win the boys high jump and claim bronze in the shot put.

In the under-15 girls triple jump, Mae Grant, of West Chesire Athletics Club, set a new championship best performance and Welsh age grade best with a jump of 9.57m.

Another young athlete to shine during the championships was rising under-17 star Luca Phillips.

Luca Phillips on his way to breaking the Welsh Under-17 long jump record. Pic: Owen Morgan

Competing in the senior championships, the Cardiff Archer claimed the Welsh long jump title setting a new national under-17 record of 7.18m in the process. Phillips currently leads the UK under-17 rankings in both long jump and triple jump.

Commonwealth Games heptathlete Lauren Evans was in medal winning form taking gold in the 60m hurdles in 8.45, followed by Grace Morgan, of Cardiff Archers in 8.51. Commonwealth Youth Games athlete Sophie Lisk, of Cardiff Archers, completed the podium positions in third with 8.70.

Evans added the Welsh title in the senior women’s high jump, with a height of 1.68m.

Two of Wales’ top female Paralympians were also in action on the first day of the championships.

Commonwealth Games T38 100m champion Olivia Breen, clocked a new personal best of 8.31 competing in her first 60m race in six years.

Meanwhile, 2021 World Para Athletics Champion Sabrina Fortune, of Deeside AAC, added another Welsh title to her collection in the senior women’s shot put, throwing a distance of 13.88m.

A full round up of results can be found on the Welsh Athletics website.

Olivia Breen in action at the Welsh Indoors Athletics Championships in Cardiif. Pic: Owen Morgan

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