There were mixed fortunes for Barnsley athletes at the British Championships this week as pole vaulter Luke Cutts missed out on a third successive gold in fourth but teenage sprinter Joe Ferguson gained valuable experience from a surprise semi-final.
Ferguson, an 18-year-old from Darton, came into the competition at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on top form having recorded a 100m personal best of 10.69 in the England Athletics Championships in Bedford two weeks earlier to qualify for his first outdoor British Championships.
He then recorded 10.72 to make it through his heat in fourth place. Ferguson's semi-final saw him line up alongside Zharnel Hughes, who trains under Usain Bolt's former coach Glen Mills in Jamaica, and Great Britain veteran Harry Aikines-Aryeetey. That duo were both part of the England team which won relay gold at this year's Commonwealth Games. Ferguson finished eighth out of nine with 10.79 but believes the experience will stand him in good stead.
He said: "I am really happy. I went there expecting to just run my heat but I got through to the semi-final which was a big surprise. I ran into a headwind in the heat so it would have been a PB if it had been a tailwind. To line up against Aikines-Aryeetey, who went to the Rio Olympics, and Hughes, who is in the top ten in the world at the moment, was an amazing experience. I went faster than a lot of England and GB representatives so that puts my name out there."
Joe – who would love to compete in the World Championships and Olympics in the future – is now due to represent Yorkshire in the English Schools Championships next week and make his England debut at a competition in Wales at the end of this month. The teenager, who has recently finished his A Level exams, said: "I want to get on the podium at the English schools, but I just need to keep working hard and running well. My coach believes I can run 10.5 by the end of this season and I think that is realistic."
Meanwhile, Cutts, the 30-year-old pole vaulter from Thurnscoe, had won the title in the previous two years but saw his crown taken by Charlie Myers of Middlesbrough. Rotherham man Adam Hague, who trains with Cutts under Barnsley-based coach Trevor Cutts at Sheffield Dearne AC, claimed the silver medal.Harry Coppell, from Wigan and District AC, finished with the same 5.35m height as Cutts but claimed bronze due to a better record throughout the competition.
Cutts, the British record holder who had dominated the domestic scene for a decade, has now missed out on national medals at the indoor and outdoor championships this season. His performance also meant he did not qualify for the European Championships in Berlin, Germany next month. Cutts has competed at the Olympics and World Championships as well as three Commonwealth Games, winning silver in Manchester four years ago and bronze in Australia earlier in 2018.
Since competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, he has returned to full-time work as a van-fitter which has restricted his training time.