Hurdles News, 13-14 February

It was gold and bronze for Cheltenham Harriers Mollie Courtney and Sophie Yorke in the under 20 women’s 60m hurdles in the England Indoor Championships in Sheffield. Entering the competition as the reigning champion and in the number one spot on the 2016 national rankings, Courtney was determined to make amends for last year’s English Schools final when she lost out when defending her title. “I was also looking for a fast time to improve my position on the UK under 20 all-time list so I targeted some athletes whose times I wanted to beat!” commented the Courtney. She set out her stall from the gun in the heat and blasted through the finish line in 8.34 seconds, anew Cheltenham Harriers Senior and under 20 club record. Courtney had thought about trying to improve her new PB in the final, but decided instead to focus on winning the medal she so badly wanted. The Dave Warner coached athletes race execution in the final to secure the gold was flawless. At the end of the race the trackside clock showed a faster time but the result was overwritten by the official time again of 8.34s. Still that was good enough to put her joint fifth on the all-time list alongside Sally Gunnell who later Sally changed to 400m hurdles. Would she consider a similar change at some point? “It’s never going to happen!” laughed Courtney.

In the same event Yorke, who had been boosted by her new PB set in Cardiff the previous Sunday and her position of third on the hurdles rankings, ran a strong heat to finish second in 8.76 seconds. In the final she finished in bronze position, improving her time to 8.69s to claim her first England medal. The previous day Yorke had lowered her own Cheltenham Harriers senior and under 20 records as she raced over the 60m flat. In the heat she finished second with a new PB of 7.68s, only to lower it again to 7.65s in the semi-final where she finished third. That was good enough to earn her a place in the final where she placed sixth in 7.67s. These results place Yorke eighth and fourth in the U20W 60m and 60m hurdles rankings respectively – one of only two athletes to feature in the top ten of both events. She commented, “It was an eventful weekend, 60m finalist with 2 PBs and a bronze in the 60m hurdles. I had hopes for better PBs, but I hope to run faster at the British Champs”