Sprint and Hurdles News, 27-28 February

Cheltenham Harriers Mollie Courtney and Sophie Yorke produced fine performances to reach the finals of the 60m hurdles and 60m sprint at the British Indoor Championships in Sheffield. Seventeen year old Yorke was looking forward to her first appearance in a senior national championship and didn’t really expect to qualify from the heats, as she told the Gloucestershire Echo in a joint video interview with Courtney on Friday. However, after battling through the rounds she found herself being introduced to the crowd in the 60m final where she finished seventh in a time of 7.60 seconds. This equalled her new PB set in the heat where she finished 3rd and also the semi-final where she again took third. Yorke’s time was also a Cheltenham Harriers senior an under 20 record.

The 60m hurdles on Sunday was billed as one of the highlights of the Championships, but qualification was never going to be easy with only the heat winner guaranteed a place in the final. In heat two Yorke lined up against UK number one Tiffany Porter. A superb start saw the Dave Warner coached athlete level with the leaders at the first hurdle and she finished in a close third, setting a new PB of 8.54 seconds. It turned out to be just outside the fastest qualifiers but Yorke was delighted with her weekend performances. “I need to decide on which event to concentrate on for my final English Schools Championships campaign” she said.

Heat three saw eighteen year old Courtney drawn in the next lane to Serita Solomon, knowing that she would have to run a good time to qualify. Courtney picked up well during the race to finish second to Solomon in 8.37 seconds – just 0.03s outside her PB set two weeks ago at the same track. She was safely through as one of the four fastest qualifiers. The final, described as “tasty” by the stadium announcer, was delayed by a faulty start that just added to the tension. Courtney produced another fine performance to finish sixth in 8.36 seconds. Afterwards she commented “It felt really fast – quicker than the heat – so I am a bit disappointed with the time. Still I have achieved my main goals for the indoor season and it’s time to move on and start preparation for the 100m hurdles outdoors”.