Sports Editor Lucy Parry reports from the Utilita Arena, where she watched the British Athletics Indoor Championships


The British Athletics Indoor Championships came back to the Utilita Arena Birmingham on the 17th-18th February. These championships are usually sparsely attended. But in 2024, British Athletics upped their publicity game. Add an Olympic year into the equation, and it resulted in both days of action being sold out. The athletes received brilliant receptions and the crowd was treated to some truly world-class performances.

The 60m is the shortest event in athletics, so getting a good start is essential. The sprinters had to do three rounds in one day, so they also had to consider the best way to conserve energy. In the men’s event, Jeremiah Azu came in as the favourite and the only one with the World Indoor Qualifying time. The Cardiff athlete delivered on his promise and won with a time of 6.60 seconds. After the race, I asked him if everything went to plan. He replied: ‘To an extent. I would have liked to go a bit faster but the main goal today was to get the win.’

The athletes received brilliant receptions and the crowd was treated to some truly world-class performances

The women’s event was much more open. In the final, despite a terrible start, Amy Hunt managed to come through and win the British title in 7.26 seconds. After graduating from the University of Cambridge last summer, Hunt moved to Marco Airale’s training group in Italy and she is loving it. She said: ‘It’s an insane training setup. We push each other every single day. We all inspire each other. There’s different nationalities, different events, different outlooks on life.’ 

The highlight on Saturday was Molly Caudery in the Pole Vault. She had a breakout year in 2023 as she cleared a Personal Best of 4.75m in the World Championship Final and finished 5th. But this season, she has entered a new level. In her first competition of the year, she added 8cm to her PB. This meant the home crowd had high expectations. She was the last to enter the competition at the height of 4.41m, which she cleared with ease. This vault won her the gold medal. The next question was how high would she go? The bar was eventually raised to 4.85m, which would be a new PB, World Lead and Championship Record if she could clear it. The crowd was fully behind her for all three attempts and she managed to clear it on her third attempt. In the mixed zone, she seemed genuinely shocked by her successes so far this year, but she is taking it in her stride. On the possibility of being the World Leader at the World Indoor Championships, Caudery said, ‘It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true. If I can keep my World Lead until then, I will use it to my advantage.’

Sunday was jam-packed, with twelve track finals and six field event finals. The 200m had heats, semifinals and a final for the men and women. I was sitting by the finish line and I found these races frustrating to watch. Due to the seating arrangement, I could not see lanes 3-6 in the home straight, which is where the winners mostly were. This issue was exacerbated by the lack of a big screen or scoreboard at the end of the arena.

The men’s High Jump was perhaps not the best performance of the weekend- but it was the best story. Tom Hewes did not have the entry standard for the British Championships, but when one of the 10 qualifiers dropped out, he was asked to make up the numbers. So it was the surprise of the competition when he jumped two PBs on his way to winning the gold medal. 

Sunday was jam-packed, with twelve track finals and six field event finals

The women’s 400m was less surprising but just as joyful. The Nielsen Twins are stalwarts of the British Team. Normally, Lina competes over the hurdles while Laviai runs the 400 flat, so they do not get to race each other very often. At the end of last season they moved to a new training camp in Denmark, and it is already paying dividends. Laviai came out on top in the final and Lina came second in a new PB. 

Laura Muir was by far the most decorated athlete at the Championships. She was competing in the 3000m with the aim of qualifying for the World Athletics Indoor Championships at home in Glasgow. She displayed her class in the last 400m of the race as she sprinted away to victory. Having experienced some disruption in her training last year, it looks like she has resolved those problems. 

The men’s 1500m was a hugely exciting race. Callum Elson and Adam Fogg had the qualifying time for the World Indoors but they let the pace crawl along. They clearly thought they had the best kick. But they were wrong as Piers Copeland stormed down the final 50m to steal the gold medal. 

The Women’s 800m included Olympic finalist Jemma Reekie and University of Birmingham alumni Issy Boffey. Both should thank Erin Wallace who led the field to 400m in 57.76 seconds. This meant that when Reekie and Boffey overtook her on the last lap, they were on track for a fast time. Reekie pulled away from Boffey to win the British title in a new Championship Record. Boffey got a silver and a World Indoor qualifying time. Afterwards she said “I learned a lot from the World Championships last year and I feel much better prepared now.” She added that she was so glad she had chosen to come to the University of Birmingham and was benefiting from an Alumni Scholarship, allowing her to continue training here.

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