It’s been a whirlwind of a week for Wimborne AC’s Piers Copeland since he claimed bronze last Sunday in the 1500m at the British Championships. That performance prompted a late invitation from the Müller International Grand Prix at Arena Birmingham to compete in a world class field the following Saturday.
The podium finish at the British Championships had suddenly raised Piers’ profile. He’s attracting interest from sponsors, on Tuesday BBC South Today ran a feature on him, and on Friday night an interview with him was broadcast on BBC Radio Solent.
In the preceding week British Athletics on its website described the forthcoming Grand Prix as,
Ranked as the best one-day indoor meeting in the world, the Müller Indoor Grand Prix returns to Birmingham in 2019. Over the years this meeting has seen British stars such as Sir Mo Farah, Dina Asher-Smith and Laura Muir regularly appear alongside the world’s very best athletes and 2019’s event won’t disappoint as more world-class head to heads are expected to light up the Arena Birmingham in February.
One thing for sure was that it was all a far cry from competing in the Hampreston First School Pancake Race! (Perhaps his first running trophy.)
Of Piers’ event, Athletics Weekly said,
One of the highlights of the meeting sees Yomif Kejelcha – the Ethiopian who narrowly missed the world indoor mile record last weekend in New York – against world indoor gold medallist from Birmingham 12 months ago, Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia.
British entries include Josh Kerr, Chris O’Hare, Andy Butchart, Jake Heyward, Charlie Grice, Elliot Giles and Neil Gourley, while Australian runners Stuart McSweyn and Ryan Gregson, plus Kenyans Bethwell Birgin, Vincent Kibet and Brimin Kiprotich add to the quality.
Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record is 3:31.18 and could be in danger.
The meeting was covered live on BBC1. As there wasn’t time to introduce all 17 starters, it was great to hear Steve Cram make time to say a few words about Piers.
Then they were off!
We were treated to a thrilling race, and the 22 year-old record of Hicham El Guerrouj’s was indeed in peril. With pacemakers at the front, the bunching and relatively slow laps we sometimes see in big meetings were avoided. It wasn’t too long before the field were pounding around the boards in single-file high-speed train like manner.
It’s not often that a record will go if there is a clear leader.* In this race it was the duel at the head of the field between two Ethiopians, Yomif Kejelcha and Samuel Tefera, that made a record breaking run more likely. Samuel Tefera was strongest at the end of the race, and he crossed the line in 3:31.04.
Those fast laps from the start brought a landslide of personal bests for the rest of the field, including one on the boards for Piers. Only one of the 14 finishers did not record a PB.
It ‘s been a fantastic week for Piers, and a tremendous experience for him to be involved on a day when history was made. It’s the first time in a track meeting where a Wimborne AC athlete has competed in an event where a world record has been broken. Piers’ handling of the media in the week leading up to the race was excellent. This will be one week he’ll never forget!
* Laura Muir in the Women’s Mile managed to break a record largely on her own and defy the odds later in the afternoon.