Ian Kennedy reports on the PSD Indoor Meeting
Piers Copeland (centre) on his way to victory in Dortmund
Even by Piers Copeland’s recent standards his performance in Dortmund over the weekend was very special. In a high class field with 15 athletes on the start line for the 1500m at the PSD indoor meeting in Dortmund, Piers found himself as the rank outsider (13 of those he was competing against had faster PBs over the distance). With such a large field the start is staggered. The favourites will find themselves starting in lanes 4, 5 and 6. The place you least want to start from is on the inside in lane 1, precisely Piers’ lane draw.
The problem with the inside lane is clear. Piers finds himself quickly bumped to the back. It meant that he had to pass everyone in the field, a difficult task on an indoor circuit. With a lap to go Piers is still only around 6th, with the gap to the leaders looking daunting. In those final metres, Piers hits his stride and finds an acceleration that allows him to reel in those ahead of him. It was an incredibly close finish. Piers recorded 3:40.25 (an indoors PB), 3/100ths ahead of Kenya’s Taki Kumari (World Junior Champion for 1500m, 2016), with third-placed Timo Benitz of Germany a further 5/100ths back.
Piers did have aspirations to compete in this year’s World Indoor Championships in China. With the cancellation of that meeting due to the Corona virus he did not allow that setback to shake his commitment or focus.
The performance In Dortmund places Piers 5th on the UK’s all-time list for 1500m indoors for an under-23. He remains unbeaten this indoor season against top class athletes over 800, 1500 and 3000m. His next race will be at Glasgow (World Indoor Tour) over 1500m on Saturday 15 February, which will be televised on BBC1.
It’s all a seems along way from Piers’ early days in athletics with Wimborne AC where he would compete in the Wessex Young Athletes League (even as a B-string athlete on a couple of occasions!) or the South West League. Piers is surely an inspiration to those currently competing at that level of what might be possible if you’re prepared to put the hard yards in. Perhaps the thing that really makes you aware of how much things have changed for him is that after his on-track heroics more than two hours were then spent in doping control!
You can watch Piers’ race in Dortmund here https://sportdeutschland.tv/leichtathletik/re-live-psd-bank-indoor-meeting-dortmund-2020 from 1:38. Piers’ pace in the latter stages is something to behold. Enjoy.