Deputy Editor Oscar Frost reviews the indoor athletics World Championships, focussing on the successes of the UoB alumni competing in Glasgow

Written by Oscar Frost
Hi! I'm Oscar, and I'm one of your deputy editors for the coming year. I was also a sports editor for two years, and a writer for a year before that.

A quartet of University of Birmingham alumni made their way to Glasgow to compete in the athletics Indoor World Championships, and they all had great successes in their events.

Hannah Kelly was a standout performer, as she was part of the relay squad that broke the British record on their way to qualifying fastest from the heats. Kelly graduated from UoB just last year and has since burst onto the international athletics scene.

Running in the third leg, Kelly finished with a 51.16 split. This would have been a huge personal best had it been in the individual event and was the second fastest time for the British relay squad behind Jessie Knight. 

Kelly did not feature in the final relay squad due to British champion Laviai Nielsen coming into the team. Nevertheless, the fact that Kelly was part of the team for the heats means that she returns to Selly Oak a world bronze medallist.

Hannah Kelly was a standout performer

Another alumna competing at the championships was 1500 metre runner Georgia Bell. Finishing in an agonising fourth place, Bell ran very close to her personal best in 4:03.47. This was her best finish at a World Championships and bodes well for her selection for the Paris Olympics taking place later this year. 

The 2015 graduate qualified from the heats in 4:04.39 just behind the American Nikki Hiltz. With over two seconds to the next athlete in the heat, it was a dominant performance that secured her place in the final. 

Bell also won the British Championships in Birmingham just two weeks before these World Championships, highlighting the fact that she is in great form heading into the outdoor season. She also currently tops the UK rankings, ahead of fellow Birmingham alumna Sarah McDonald in third. 

Competing for Bangladesh, the university record holder Imran Rahman made it to the semi-finals of a packed men’s 60 metres. Qualifying in 6.64 seconds, he made it through the heats as a fastest qualifier. 

Rahman ran slightly slower in the semi-final, clocking in at 6.70 seconds, despite a blistering first half of the race. 

Boffey was unfortunate, however, in that her heat was such a tactical affair

Rahman has not been able to break the 6.60 second barrier this season, but nonetheless this competition on the biggest stage was his season opener. His lack of racing so far this year suggests that he is choosing not to focus on the indoor season, but rather look beyond to the Olympics taking place this summer.  

Finally, multiple-time UoB sportsperson of the year Issy Boffey took on the world’s greatest in the 800 metres. Boffey finished in 2:02.81 and fourth place, unfortunately not advancing the UoB alumna to the semi-finals. 

Boffey was unfortunate, however, in that her heat was such a tactical affair. The expectation for a final heat is that every athlete would be chasing the fastest qualifier times, but this was not the case for Boffey. She bravely took the lead of the race ahead of the experienced Halimah Nakaayi after a slow first two laps, but this allowed the other athletes to profit from her work to advance.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend for the four alumni of the university on the biggest stage in indoor athletics. With the university team securing more talent than ever before, such as European cross-country champion Will Barnicoat, these athletes are not set to be the last of Birmingham’s alumni competing on the world stage this year and beyond.

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