BMC GRAND PRIX, Eltham
SHOULD Zakia Mossi follow in the footsteps of Katie Snowden then it will be a job well done by the youngster and her coach Phil Kissi, Kevin Fahey reports.
The performance by the 14-year-old Blackheath & Bromley athlete in winning the women’s 800m C race in a personal best of 2:09.86 strengthened her place at the top of the UK rankings for under-15 girls.
Furthermore, it marks her out as one of the favourites for the gold medal for the junior girls’ 800m at the English Schools Championships in Birmingham this weekend, an achievement that would match that of Snowden who lifted the coveted title as an inter girl nine years ago.
Crucially for Snowden it proved to be the springboard for future success with a GB junior international vest and earlier this year her senior international debut for England down under at the Commonwealth Games where she finished 11th in the 1500m final.
Since then she has recently kickstarted her season again with fourth place over 1500m in the British Championships and then at Eltham a season’s best of 2:01.75 to win the 800m A race and climb up to eighth in the UK rankings – though she is aiming to improve that over the coming weeks.
“I feel a lot stronger this season as I have been concentrating on the 1500m so to come out and run a season’s best over 800m is very pleasing and I am happy with that,” said Snowden.
“I’ll do a few more to sharpen up my speed and then go back to the 1500m towards the back end of the season and hopefully get some faster times.”
Snowden, whose last Grand Prix win over 800m was three years ago when the Herne Hill Harrier beat New Zealand international Angie Petty at SportCity, timed her charge to perfection to edge out leader Hanna Hermansson of Sweden in the closing strides.
“Yes, I left it late!” added Snowden.
“Actually I got boxed in around the bend so I just had to wait and be patient for a gap to open. I felt strong so when the gap came I was able to get out and come through down the home straight.”
Mossi didn’t have that problem in the C race as the 14-year-old dominated after hitting the bell in 62.45 and running away from her more experienced rivals with a very assured performance.
“We are really looking forward to the English Schools as it is something we have been working towards since last year when she finished third as a bottom year junior girl,” said coach Kissi.
“Zakia is fearless and a great talent.” Two other female runners to catch the eye were Jenny Nesbitt and Philippa Bowden, who enjoyed a cracking duel in the 3000m.
The pair had already met three times on the track this season with Bowden finishing ahead in all of them – the BUCS 5000m, Highgate 10,000m and British Championships 5000m – so against that background Nesbitt was understandably delighted to have claimed victory in a personal best of 9:11.40 with Bowden just a few strides behind in 9:13.24, also a PB.
“I think we pushed each other on this evening which was good and it was nice to beat Philippa as previously she had won our head-to-heads,” said Nesbitt.
“I came here to run a PB so I have to be pleased with that. I am just racing for fun at the moment having started my season so early with the Commonwealth Games but it has been a great year for me so far.”
Bowden said she relished her battles with Nesbitt and a PB by 12 seconds was a good consolation for finishing runner-up.
“Jenny and I are good friends before and after we race and that was a decent battle out there,” said Bowden. “I only raced one 3000m last year so I knew on the basis of my times at 5000m and 10,000m I should be running a lot quicker at this distance.”
The times lift Nesbitt and Bowden to 10th and 12th in the rankings.
In the men’s races there was an impressive win by Spencer Thomas in the 1500m as he not only finished almost five seconds clear of Sam Blake but also shaved 1.76 seconds off his previous best set in the Loughborough International earlier this season.
“The key this evening was to try and run smooth and find my rhythm as that has not been happening for me this season,” said Thomas.
“I was keen to put myself out there and see where I was at and I am happy to come away with 3:43.
“Overall I have not run as quick as I would have liked this summer as I wanted to get to 1:46 for the 800m and 3:39 for 1500m so I will be looking for something faster.”
There were also PBs for the first three home in the B race and for C race winner James Heneghan as the Winchester junior clipped a second off his 2017 best.
New Zealand’s 21-year-old James Preston, who recently ran a lifetime best of 1:47.7 in the Brussels Grand Prix, celebrated his first Grand Prix race with
Katie Snowden (45): wins the women’s A 800m race from Hanna Hermansson (46) and Sara Kuivisto (50), who was fourth
Harvey Dixon: leads eventual winner Jonny Hay in the 3000m
Under-15 Zakia Mossi: winning the 800m C race in her first