Max Burgin storms home to win 800m men’s final at UK Championships
Max Burgin has borne the burden of being compared to a young Sebastian Coe or Steve Cram ever since he shattered the under-15 world 800 metres record four years ago. But those lofty comparisons did not look misplaced as he led from gun to tape to destroy a high-class field and win his first national title.
The 20-year-old athlete has worked on his strength and conditioning over the winter after missing last year’s Olympics through injury, and it showed as he ran the finish out of Daniel Rowden and Kyle Langford to win in 1:44.54 in Manchester. It was a heck of a performance, especially in such blustery conditions, but it took so much out of him he was sick by the medal podium.
“I knew that was coming,” he said. “That’s just me after every race. I put that much into it that I’m in a bit of a hole afterwards. That was quite a good day for me – it was only 10-15 minutes. I’ve been up to half an hour before I can start walking round again. I’m getting better, hopefully.
“Obviously it is a bit disruptive and I do feel sorry for the organisers having to reshuffle everything like the medal ceremony. Hopefully I’ve got a bit of leeway when I produce good performances.
“The wind did throw into doubt whether front-running was the best idea but I stuck with the plan. I thought I could handle the wind and it paid off.”
It means that Burgin, who is the fastest man over 800m in the world this year, has now booked his place at the world championships in Eugene in three weeks’ time. And he travels there with a realistic shot at glory.
“I have no idea how I will handle a three-round championship before I go there and do it,” he said. “I’ve got no experience. The last time I did three rounds was four years ago in the European U18s. I’ll go in with high hopes, high ambitions and see how far they take me.
“My times are up there with what the best are doing at the moment. World championships are a different kettle of chips. It will definitely be a different challenge but one that I will be looking forward to.”
Rowden was also happy to qualify after coming second in 1:45:58. “Training has been going really well,” he said. “However, racing has been awful so I’m thrilled with second today and be going to worlds.”
In the men’s 200 metres, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake produced his best performance in years as he ran a championship record of 20.05sec to book his seat on the plane to Eugene.
“I have been in a great place mentally,” he said. “I feel like I have a second wind within this sport now. My confidence is the highest it has been in a very long time. That race right then was the cleanest race I have had in four years and it feels great.”
Behind Mitchell-Blake were two youngsters with shiny new personal bests to their name: 21-year-old Joe Ferguson, who ran 20.23 to take second, and 19-year-old Jeriel Quainoo who came third in 20.40. However Adam Gemili, a mainstay of British squads for a decade, could only come fourth.
Daryll Neita added the 200m to her 100m title by winning in 22.34sec from Beth Dobbin. “Double British sprint champions sounds good doesn’t it?” she said. “I came here to do that and I have achieved it. “
There was also joy for Jemma Reekie, who has endured a difficult season after suffering with glandular fever, as she won the women’s 800m in 2:06:03 from Ellie Baker. The result means that both women will be in the British team when it is announced on Tuesday.