Report by Ian Kennedy
In unhelpful conditions, the warmest August Bank Holiday on record, Piers Copeland produced PB performances on consecutive days at the Alexander Stadium in the British Championships over the weekend. It was a thrill to watch a red Wimborne AC vest competing on the live BBC coverage.
Piers’ passage from the heats to the final was not via the easiest route. There were four qualifying heats. The first two of these featured seven athletes and automatic qualification could be secured by finishing first or second. In heats three and four, where six athletes took part, only the winner was guaranteed passage into the final, with the final two places available to the two fastest non-automatic qualifiers over the four heats.
Piers was in Heat 4, and found himself up against some formidable opposition – Spencer Thomas and Elliot Giles. Spencer Thomas was England U23 Champion over 800m in 2018, this year he’d won the 1500m at the same event. Elliot Giles was British Senior Champion over 800m in 2016 and 2017, and indoor champion over 1500m in 2017. With only one guaranteed place into the final from this heat Piers had a tough draw. He was going to need something special.
Heat 4 was, by a margin, the fastest qualifying heat. The first three, Elliot, Spencer and Piers ran faster than anyone in ANY of the other heats. They were all in the final. Of the 26 runners in these heats, Piers was the only one who recorded a PB … not a surprise given the conditions.
Sunday, the day of the final was another scorcher. There were nine in the field with one athlete instated in the final on appeal. Piers was going to need to be at his very best once again. Had he recovered from his PB effort in the hot temperatures of the previous day? We were soon to find out.
Once again there was only one PB amongst the men’s 800m athletes, and it was Piers who recorded it. His new mark is now 1:48.03, which was enough to bring him 6th place, just 1.24 seconds behind this year’s British Champion, a fantastic achievement as Piers was the second youngest in the field and, it could be argued that his strongest event is the 1500m! Piers’ 1:48.03 is a new Wimborne club record.
Before Piers gets a well-earned end of season rest from competition, he’s got one more event. He’s been invited to compete in the mile in the Great North City Games in Newcastle on 7 September, once again it’ll be covered live by the BBC.