The women’s 200 metres competition descended into farce at Alexander Stadium on Sunday as Tipton Harrier Melinda Cooksey was denied a place in the final on what amounted to the toss of a coin.
The 24-year-old had been enjoying an outstanding weekend and looked set to follow up Saturday’s achievement of making the 100m showpiece by doing likewise in the longer sprint, only to tie up in the last few metres of her semi-final.
That allowed Margaret Adeoye to draw to her shoulder and the two athletes dipped over the line simultaneously. Indeed, they were so close that a sport in which the latest technology can determine results to the nearest thousandth of a second, could find no way of doing so and both were awarded a time of 24.37secs.
But nine qualifiers does not go into eight lanes and Cooksey lost out on the tie-breaker.
“An official held a 1p coin in one hand and a 2p in another and whoever chose the 2p qualified,” Cooksey explained.
“The other girl chose because she got down there first and she chose correctly. It is gutting, but you can’t do anything about it. I’ve had a really good championships.”
Indeed, Cooksey might not have been in a position to do herself justice had she gone through. She left the track with a back condition that required attention and did not suggest she would be in any fit state to hurtle 200m round a track at any stage in the next couple of hours.
“It is the same problem I had at the end of the indoor season,” she said. “Maybe it was fate stopping me from injuring myself in the final.”
Even with that disappointment, Cooksey, who works for Worcestershire County Cricket Club, has every reason to be proud of her efforts over the last couple of days. She ran a personal best in the 100m heats on Friday night and went close in the semi final the following day. Her position of eighth in the country reflects favourably on her progress.
Kelly Sotherton did not enjoy such a ground-breaking few days. The Olympic Games bronze medallist and Commonwealth heptathlon champion was in desperate form on Saturday when she flopped in the high jump, her best of 1.78m was way below her best and what she will have to produce to justify her favourites billing in Beijing, while her shot put was also poor. Having made 14m de rigeur in the last year, the Birchfield Harrier had to settle for 13.68m and last place of the able-bodied athletes.
It wasn’t much better on Sunday. She pulled out of the long jump after the third round complaining that a quadriceps muscle had restricted her to 6.28m. She then threw the javelin 34.31m to finish last.
“It was OK,” Sotherton said. “Saturday was very disappointing but today I jumped a PB in the long jump with only three jumps, so I’m quite pleased with that when I wasn’t allowed to be competitive but came so close to winning.
“My javelin wasn’t what I have been doing in training but 3m further than I did last year. Apart from my kidney trouble and my thigh muscle injury, I’ve not had the greatest preparation. I’ve just got to be smart in the next four weeks and get faster.”
While Sotherton is a certainty to go to Beijing, team-mate Mark Edwards is not. The Harrier left himself at the selectors’ mercy in the shot by failing to throw another A standard. He has done that once, arguably twice this season depending on whether his effort at Nottingham is accepted, but couldn’t do so last night.
Instead, the national title went to Carl Myerscough while Edwards took the silver and another Birchfield athlete, Scott Rider, claimed bronze.
As did Royal Sutton Coldfield’s Laura Kenney in the 5000m. The European Under 23 champion allowed leaders Jo Pavey and Hayley Yelling to escape her in the early stages and was never able to haul them in. Pavey won in a stadium record and could double up in China.
Leamington’s Sara McGreavy was relatively happy with her second place in the 100m hurdles, after a season of hamstring troubles although Birchfield’s Brad Yiend knew that fifth in the 400m hurdles could have been even better.
“I have been struggling all season with my stride pattern, so to finish in the top five was quite pleasing but. I know there is a personal best in there,” Yiend said. “The target this season was to run sub-50 and I still think I will do that, because I’m injury-free.
Coventry-based race walker Dan King is another dependant on the selectors’ generosity. Despite winning the 5000m title, the 25-year-old only has the Olympic B standard and needs things to go his way if he is to make the trip. “It was harder than I thought it would be,” he said of his victory.
“I am coming off 50k training, so the pace was faster than I have been doing. It would be good to go to the Olympics as a build-up for 2012 but we will have to wait and see.”
Scott Simpson was second in the men’s pole vault with a season’s best of 5.30m but the competition was easily won by Newham’s Steve Lewis. Amy Woodman was another Birchfield medal winner with a bronze in the long jump for a distance of 6.09m.
Meanwhile, Ashia Hansen, who retired last week, has been rewarded for her outstanding career by being made an official ambassador for the council’s Task Force for 2012.
At the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Birchfield’s Jordan McGrath and Robert Davis made up half of the GB team that took silver in the 4x400m relay. The medal makes up for McGrath’s disappointment in the individual event, the Solihull athlete did well to make the final last Thursday but was the last finisher in a sluggish time. He brought the baton home ahead of Germany but behind the Americans, who ran the fastest time of the year to take gold.