Piers the 2016/2017 season started with the indoor meeting that he first
cut his teeth on, the December Grand Prix meeting in Cardiff. Once
again he opened his account with a 3000m, his time was 8:10.78. In 12
months Piers had made huge progress, he improved his 3000m time by more
than 26 seconds. He was set for another exciting indoor season.
trips to Cardiff got 2017 underway. The first of these was on 15
January. Piers became South West England U20 1500m Indoor Champion that
day with a new PB of 3:49.39. He returned to Cardiff three weeks later
and became U20 800m Indoor Champion with another PB Ė 1:51.58. Needless
to say Piersí best indoor times over 800, 1500 and 3000m all became
Wimborne AC club records.
performances at Cardiff saw him selected to compete in the British
Athletics Indoor Time Trial in Sheffield over the weekend of 11/12
invited to run in one of three events Ė 800, 1500, 3000. This is very
unusual and shows his range.
He chose the 1500.
was he competing in under-20s competition though. He was now up against
the best senior men in the country. There were to be qualifying heats
on the Saturday and the final on Sunday. It would be a major
achievement if Piers were to make Sundayís final.
Piersí Wimborne middle distance running team-mates were in cross-country
action on the Saturday at Havant. Smart work was needed in order to get
back in time to watch Piersí qualifying heats at 17.35. The meeting was
being covered by BBC Sport online. My first attempts to watch the
coverage showed a fault message. Just before the first menís 1500m heat
the technical issues were resolved and we had live streaming. Wimborne
ACís social media networks burst into life Ö it was clear many of Piersí
clubmates were watching avidly.
were to make the final he would need to rise to the occasion. Of the
other 23 runners in the two heats, 21 of them had faster PBs than that
of Piers. He was also the youngest competitor out there Ė the only
under-20. There were eight under-23s and the rest of the field were
senior men. Piers had a mountain to climb!
first three from each heat would qualify for the final, along with the
best three times outside the top three. The first heat was won in the
relatively slow time of 3:54.49; this was good news for Piersí
camera panned along the line of athletes at the start of heat 2. There
he was resplendent in his red Wimborne AC vest. Many other athletes who
were internationals chose to wear either England or GB vests, but there
he was proudly sporting his Wimborne red. A sweet moment for sure. I
love seeing Piers occasionally wearing his England vest at WAC training
sessions, because itís an inspirational/aspirational sight for his
clubmates. Choosing his club vest in this setting has much the same
effect Ö Piers weíre proud of you. The online commentary team
identified those who were considered contenders Ö clearly Piers was
ranked as an outsider! He didnít get a mention, it brought to mind a
similar situation with the 1500m at the Schools Games in 2015 Ö and
Piers did all right that day!
The race plan
was to make the heat fast, with Piers going into the lead if necessary.
Coach Bob Smith did the research, and for the past five years, if an
athlete ran under 3:50, they were in the final. In addition, Bob and
Piers watched all the videos they could find of the 1500m at the British
Athletics Indoor Championships, so Piers was well prepared. As it
turned out, the other athletes realised the heat had to be fast and took
In the heat,
Piers injured his hip having to move sideways to miss fallen runners.
When this happened, he had to run inside the track, so there was a fear
of disqualification. Bob thought he may have to argue Piersí case with
the referee; strangely the two runners that fell did not lodge a
complaint, which meant the referee did not get involved. The race was
physically brutal and Piers experienced an elbow in the throat at the
start and was bumped several times. He was also spiked.
It was a
much faster heat; the winner crossed the line in 3:48.17. Piers was 6th.
Would all the three Ďnext fastest timesí come from heat 2? They did!
Piers had qualified for the British Athletics Indoor Team Trial Menís
1500m Final!! A terrific achievement.
Thankfully BBC Sportís online coverage worked much
better on Day 2 of the meeting. Piers wasnít the only athlete of
specific interest to Wimborne members. Taking part in the high jump
competition alongside the likes of Olympic medalist Robbie Grabarz was
Ryan Webb (also an under-20). Ryanís talents were honed by Wimborne
ACís high jump coach Peter Impett. Ryan holds the club record for high
jump, achieved on a memorable day in a South West League meeting at
Yeovil last summer when he cleared 2m14. We got to see Ryan jump 2m13
(an indoor record for him) before narrowly missing out at 2m17.
watched Ryan, we anticipated the forthcoming final of the menís 1500m.
Not only were Piersí indoor achievements announced over the PA in the
arena prior to the final (along with those of the other competitors),
but the BBC commentator also paid him due respect, as well as mentioning
Wimborne AC. The clubís internal social media platforms came to life.
It was clear that Piers had the attention of his clubmates back in
again Piers appeared on the track with the familiar Wimborne red vest
with black sash. The surprise was that the field comprised 10 runners,
instead of the nine expected. Ben Waterman was adjudged to have been
impeded in a qualifying heat, so he joined the other nine starters.
final was won by Elliott Giles in 3:45.59. Giles represented Team GB at
the Rio Olympics in the 800m and he was bronze medalist, also over 800m,
in the European Championships last summer. Tom Lancashire was second in
this race, his list of achievements is too lengthy to mention, see his
Wikipedia page. Piers was 8th with a time of 3:55.28.
hip injury may have been a factor in Piers not being able to follow the
pace after a slow couple of laps.
supporters it was fantastic to see a red vest racing in this kind of
company. Piers has certainly done the club proud.
Masterminding Piersí successful season has been coach Bob Smith whoís
planned his training schedule meticulously and overseen strategy.
Theyíve made a great team. At the time of writing this is where Piers
stands in the rankings:
2017 under-20 indoor ranking in the UK is:
1st for 1500m
1st for 3000m
the ĎAll Timeí under-20 list in Britain Piers is:
15th for 1500m
6th for 3000m
European rankings are currently:
6th for 1500m
4th for 3000m
current World rankings are:
7th for 1500m
4th for 3000m