Classy Wilson so close to record

Michael Wilson.
Michael Wilson.
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SUNDERLAND Harrier Michael Wilson came within a whisker of breaking the long-standing junior men’s 800m record in the North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships at Gateshead yesterday.

The 18-year-old, who has another year in this age group, stormed to victory in 1min 52.83sec – stormed to victory in 1min 52.83sec – just one hundredth of a second outside Sunderland Harrier Malcolm Hassan’s mark from 2001.

He refused to get ruffled when Johnny Currie shot into the lead after the break from the lanes down the back straight. At the bell, passed in a swift 55 seconds, the Seaham athlete was still ten metres adrift of the Tynedale Harrier.

But, going into the last 200 metres, Wilson started to eat into the gap of the fading leader.

Now at full belt as he turned into the home straight, he was on his way to a memorable triumph. The Ken Jefferson-coached runner knocked-up a remarkable sixth 800m title since taking his first as an under-13.

In second place (1.56.84) was Birtley’s Adrian Bailes, the winner of the 1500m the previous day, and third was an exhausted Currie in 1.58.40.

Wilson, who moved to number eight on the UK rankings, said: “I’m really pleased with my performance.

“But the last 100m was really tough. It was through Johnny that I ran my fastest time. I have to thank him for that.

“I came here to win and I was confident in my strength. I have had my best ever winter training spell and that has been reflected in my race today.’’

Now the St Aidan’s A-level student will concentrate on his forthcoming exams before his next big competitive outing at Bedford on June 21 in the UKA Under-20 Championships.

Also in gold medal form was under-17 clubmate Hollie Lancaster, who bounced back from a 200m bronze medal (26.97) on Saturday to grab 100m gold (13.46) yesterday.

She was disappointed in her short sprint time, although, with a strong headwind and slow start, she could vastly improve on that before the season is out.

There were bronze medals for Sunderland’s Nathan Reed in the senior 5000m (15.50.11) – won by Durham’s Dan Garbutt (14.43.28), Mark Smith in the under-17 3000m (9.48.43) and under-20 discus thrower Natalie Piwonski (23.13).

Houghton Harriers had a double gold medallist in under-17 Ben Mitchell.

On Saturday, he won the shot (12.01m) and discus (35.05m) and yesterday he returned to finish second in the high jump (1.55m).

There were also wins for Adam Page in the under-15 pole vault (2.10m) and Rachel Scott in the under-20 hurdles.

Bronze medals were won by Ellie Patterson in the under-13 high jump (1.20m) and Eva Hardie under-13 1500m (5.19.66).

Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett, competing for Birtley, won the under-17 3000m (10 31.93) and her international clubmate, Lydia Turner, won the under-20s 1500m from Durham’s Chloe Price.

H Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare won the 200m and long jump double in the Diamond League meeting in Shanghai yesterday, the latter by one centimetre with a meeting record of 6.86m before passing her final three attempts and storming home in 22.36 seconds in the sprint event.

Justin Gatlin won the men’s 100m while fellow American Michael Tinsley took the 400m hurdles.