Arena Birmingham hosts the British Indoor Championships this weekend with both Triple Jump events taking place on Saturday, February 9th. As well as the honour of being crowned British Champion, there is also the carrot of possible selection for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Glasgow for the best of British Triple Jumpers.
Men’s Competition (12.30pm):
Nathan Douglas produced his best legal jump of 2018, 16.77m, when taking the title last year and, despite being cruelly over-looked for the World Indoor Championships at the same venue a few weeks later, he went on to prove his pedigree and ability to perform on the big stage later in the year when finishing 5th and 6th respectively in the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships. Given he already holds the 16.50m qualification standard for the European Indoor Championships from his performances last summer, and had a season-opener in Vienna at the end of January of 16.11m confirming his current fitness, he will know that a quality performance on Saturday should ensure him a trip to Glasgow next month.
Challenging Douglas will be a rejuvenated Nathan Fox who lies 2nd in the 2019 British Rankings with 16.12m from early January following an injury-hit 2018. He will be looking to return to the kind of form that produced a hat-trick of British Indoor crowns from 2015-2017 and selection for the 2017 World Championships in London, where he narrowly missed a place in the global final. Having missed last year’s British Indoor Championships through an injury that ultimately robbed him of his well-earned place in the Commonwealth Games, Fox will hope to challenge for the top spot of British Triple Jumpers once again this year and Saturday will be a key step forward in his recovery to full fitness.
2014 Indoor Champion Julian Reid jumped 16.54m when taking silver behind Douglas last year and finished just behind him again in Vienna recently with 16.03m. Bronze in the 2016 European Championships, backed up with LJ/TJ PBs of 8.08m/16.98m demonstrate that an athlete of his quality must also be considered a serious threat for gold on Saturday. Like Douglas, he already holds the 16.50m qualifying standard for Glasgow from his exploits last summer and so will look to impress his current form upon the British selectors to book his place again in a major Championships.
Leading the British Rankings going into Saturday’s competition is Michael Puplampu following his 16.28m indoors at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium late in January. Mainly due to injury problems, it’s 6 years since he set his lifetime best of 16.43m in the 2013 British Indoor Championships, but 16.41m outdoors last year indicated that he was beginning to recapture his early potential in the event and it would be no surprise to see him take to the podium on Saturday.
As well as Fox and Puplampu, training partners Nonso Okolo and Daniel Lewis from the Tosin Oke camp will be out to make their mark in Birmingham. Lewis has 15.78m in the bag already this year and will be looking to recapture the form that took him to 7th in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when competing for Jamaica. Okolo has yet to jump this year and, unable to compete since June last year, he may well be short of the form that took him out to 16.45m in 2017, but cannot be disregarded to repeat his podium place from the last time he competed in the Championships in 2015.
In 2018 Jonathan Ilori improved his PB out to 16.28m at the South of England Championships, backed up by 16.25m when taking bronze at the British Outdoor Championships. That doesn’t tell the whole story though, as a marginal foul in the National competition was out to around 16.60m. With that in mind, his early marks in 2019 of 15.73m and 15.60m should be taken lightly as, if everything clicks, he could spring a surprise challenge to the usual suspects.
Birchfield’s Scott Hall made massive improvements in 2018, capped by a new PB of 15.82m when placing 6th at the British Outdoor Championships. Moving to the guidance of British Jumping mentor Femi Akinsanya, he has continued to progress this winter, setting a new lifetime best of 15.85m in Gateshead last month. He will hopefully find that the venue and occasion on Saturday provides the right spark to push him even closer to, if not over, the 16 metre mark.
Also setting a new PB this winter is Sale’s Seun Okome. Originally specialising in the High Jump, Okome has steadily progressed in the Triple Jump over recent years with the help of Keith Hunter and Toni Minichiello, and bounded out to 15.84m taking gold at the Northern Indoor Championships in January. He’ll have added incentive to perform on Saturday, having failed to register a mark in last year’s competition, but having made his International debut in Vienna last week, he’ll approach Birmingham a more experienced and confident jumper than 12 months ago.
Okome’s Sale team-mate Kevin Metzger is yet another entrant in the form of his life going into Birmingham. He added 30cm to his PB when taking silver, behind Okome, at the Northern Indoor Championships with 15.67m. Following his National Senior Championships debut in the 2018 British Outdoor Championships, he’ll look to build on that experience to push himself closer to the 16 metre mark on Saturday.
Henry Clarkson arrives in Birmingham as the most improved athlete in Saturday’s field. Starting the year with a PB of 14.66m from last year’s indoor season, he improved out to 15.21m at Loughborough early last month before exploding onto the Senior British Triple Jumping scene with 15.75m when becoming Scottish Indoor Champion in Glasgow 2 weeks later. Whether he can continue in that kind of form throughout 2019 will be one of the intriguing aspects of Saturday’s competition.
The Men’s Triple Jump field is completed by two jumpers who returned to Great Britain in 2017 after studying in America and have both struggled to recapture the form they showed whilst stateside.
Harvard University graduate Efe Uwaifo hit his PB of 15.98m in 2016, before backing it up with a marginal windy (+2.3m/s) leap of 16.18w in 2017. 15.84m in 2018 was an indication that under John Herbert’s continued guidance he’s an athlete always likely challenge the 16 metre mark when at his best, but he will seek improvement on his two early outings of 15.54m in 2019 if he is to make his mark on Saturday.
In 2017 Sam Trigg finished 5th in the British Rankings after jumping 16.38m in the colours of New Mexico University. Starting the 2018 indoor season with jumps of 15.50m and 15.52m was encouraging enough, despite the change to juggling training around full-time work rather than studies, but an on-going heel injury ended his 2018 season in May. Having only been given the medical the all-clear to jump again last December, and with no competitive experience under his belt so far in 2019, this is a competition that Trigg will use as the next step on his road to recovery rather than with any expectation to challenge for a spot on the podium he stepped upon when taking bronze in the 2015 event.
The sight of a leading British Triple Jumper returning from injury, rather than on the sidelines because of it, is always a welcome one though, and despite the injury-induced absence from Birmingham of other recent 16 metre British jumpers such as Ben Williams, Montel Nevers and Lawrence Davis, Saturday’s field could produce a quality-filled open competition ready to entertain the packed Birmingham Arena.