With the highs (and for some lows) of last summer's Commonwealth Games becoming a distant memory, the athletes returned to Glasgow at the weekend to begin their track and field preparations for the forthcoming season, which will culminate in August at the 15th World Championships in Beijing, China. The Emirates Arena welcomed senior teams from France, Germany and Great Britain & Northern Ireland to take on a home team from bonnie Scotland, in a match that dates back to 1988. In addition to the main competition, there was an opportunity for the packed crowd to catch a glimpse of some of the potential stars of the future, with a series of 4 x 200m relay events for the younger age groups.
After her exploits over the country in recent months, Jess Judd continued her over distance racing over 1500m in Glasgow, as she clearly looks to strengthen ahead of what she hopes will be a strong 800m season during the summer. After making the finals at both the Commonwealths and Europeans but failing to medal at either, she would have been pleased to kick off the indoor campaign with a solid victory over the "metric mile" in a time of 4:14.53. It was an indoor personal best for the George Gandy trained athlete, as she finished almost two seconds clear of Claire Perraux of France in second.
First up on the track in the match had been the women's and men's 400 metres, which saw Kelly Massey storming to a victory and personal best of 52.95 seconds and home athlete Jamie Bowie clinch the men's equivalent in 47.38 seconds, just edging out GB & NI's team captain Conrad Williams over the final run-in.
There was a fine win for GB & NI in the women's 60m hurdles, as Serita Solomon claimed the notable scalp of Cindy Billaud of France, who was just outside the medals in fourth place at the World Indoors last year, but could only manage third in Glasgow this time. Pascal Martinot Lagarde of France won the men's event as expected in 7.63 seconds, as he holds an outdoor best over the full hurdles' distance of under 13 seconds.
Renelle Lamote of France was a class apart in the women's 800m, setting a new personal best of a shade under two minutes and one second as she dominated the rest of the field. A close men's 800m race saw the German Robin Schembera take the honours just ahead of Scotland's Guy Learmonth, as both went under 1 minute 49 seconds for the distance. James Bowness for GB & NI was disappointingly back in fourth place after leading at the half-way mark. Florian Orth made it a German double over the men's middle distance events, when he convincingly claimed the 1500m event, although GB & NI's Steve Mitchell should be relatively pleased with his personal best time back in third place.
The short sprints created one of the stories of the afternoon, as the World Indoor champion from last year, Richard Kilty was disqualified for a false start in the men's 60m, allowing France's Emmanuel Biron to take success instead in a relatively modest 6.69 seconds. Germany's Verena Sailor made no such slip ups in the women's event, setting a season's best of 7.27 seconds to secure top spot. Rachel Johncock ran a new personal best time to give GB & NI second place in the same race, only seven hundredths behind the winner.
On the field, there were several pleasing performances by GB & NI athletes, with perhaps the pick of the bunch being the mature success for Chris Kandu on his senior debut. The teenager matched his best ever with 2.23m in the men's high jump event. Luke Cutts cleared a height of 5.40m in the men's pole vault for second place, ten centimetres behind Frenchman Jerome Clavier. Chris Tomlinson kicked off his indoor season with a slightly below par 7.61m for another second place in the trail of Julian Howard of Germany. Eloyse Lesueur was the somewhat predictable victor in the women's long jump, as the World Indoor champion from 2014 leapt out to 6.59m.
Both of the traditional meeting ending 4 x 400m relays went to GB & NI. The women's race saw Britain dominate throughout to win by almost five seconds, allowing anchor leg runner Massey to claim her second victory and with it the accolade of the Sainsbury's Performance of the Day. Their male compatriots led from the start as Williams established a healthy advantage, which they extended to the finish with a respectable 3:08.90 clocking.
In the team competition, Germany took the overall honours after France (who had looked likely to take victory) were disqualified in the final event of the day, the men's relay. #Celebrities #Athletics