Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Smith Cruises to Top of UK Rankings

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Smith Cruises to Top of UK Rankings

Article excerpt

MANCHESTER'S Sports City hosted the latest Nike British Milers' Club Grand Prix and it proved a superb fixture for numerous athletes from the region who made the trip.

Leading the charge was Gateshead's Stacey Smith who finished third in the 1,500 metres A race behind Beijing Olympian Helen Clitheroe and in doing so not only dipped under the qualifying time for the European Under-20 Championships, but also moved her to the top of the UK rankings.

With weather conditions ideal as the wind dropped for the early evening confrontation, Smith tucked in behind Clitheroe and Ireland's Hazel Murphy with the pack, which included Morpeth's Laura Weightman, also gunning for a European place, a few paces behind.

Smith, winner of the North Eastern Counties title at the beginning of the month, began to slip off the pace midway through the race but was still in third place as Clitheroe and Murphy battled it out at the head of affairs.

"I knew what splits I needed to do to get the European qualifying time so there was no point in going with the leaders and blowing up later," said a delighted Smith.

"Even though I was on my own for part of the race I felt that I just had to concentrate on what Mick (Woods) had told me and it would be all right.

"The Irish girl began to come back to me late in the race and that gave me something to chase but even though I just failed to catch her I was delighted to finish third and get inside the European qualifying time.

"It's nice to know that I can go into the trials already knowing that I've got the time." Clitheroe went on to win comfortably in four minutes 13.99 seconds with Murphy holding on to second place in 4:17.29 and Smith, a yard or so further behind in 4:17.75.

Weightman, meanwhile, finished in sixth place in 4:20.72, just outside her pb but even though she was toppled from the top of the UK leader board by her Tyneside rival, she is still ranked second and she also will have an excellent chance of making it to Serbia for the European Championships in July. …

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