Championships in Birmingham

In the AAA U20 indoor championships in Birmingham Sheffield’s Rebecca Mersh produced a time for the 3,000m walk 16 seconds faster than the all time indoor record held by Sheffield’s own Katie Ford. Katie achieved the UK U20 record when she was 16 years old, whilst being coached by her father Jeff Ford who died four years ago. He was national coach and acknowledged as one of the best coaches in the country, his memory will be honoured next month when the Jeff Ford memorial walks are held at Don Valley Stadium.

Rebecca has now bettered Katie’s time at the age of 15, though in the race itself she had to settle for third place as internationals Sophie Hales and Katie Stones fought out the lead 20 seconds ahead of her. Confused by the bell being sounded for the leading male walker as he was about to lap her Kingston upon Hull’s Katie Stones put in a big effort and looked to have the race won but defending champion Sophie Hales clawed her back in the last two hundred metres for a two second victory.

Rebecca said after the race “My race plan was to walk fairly consistent laps and better Katie’s record and I did just that, in any previous championship that would have given me an easy victory but Sophie and Katie were in exceptional form, we have produced the fastest three under 20 times ever.”

Katie’s time of 13.38 is a UK age 18 best whilst Rebecca’s 14.01 betters the UK age bests for 15,16 and 17 as wellas being an under 17 indoor best. Katies Hull team mate Jenny Gagg took fourth place in 14.37