Mukhtar’s best of season - Heyes runner-up in national cross country

Mukhtar Mohammed finished ninth in Birmingham
Mukhtar Mohammed finished ninth in Birmingham

Mukhtar Mohammed believes he will benefit from the quality of competition on show in the men’s 800m at Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday.

The Sheffield-born athlete finished ninth in 1.47.69 against a strong field, with Kenya’s Jeremiah Mutai taking top spot with a time of 1.45.93, the fourth fastest time so far this year.

While Mohammed couldn’t trouble those at the front of the race, he was able to record a season’s best, as well as running inside the European Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 1.48.00 ahead of next month’s meeting in Prague. And the 24-year-old is hopeful the experience of events like the Indoor Grand Prix will prove priceless should he be selected for the European Indoor event in the coming days.

“It was good, there was a really high level in the field today,” said Mohammed.

“I have been running with these guys for the last two years, so I know how hard they work.

“To compete with them in this kind of event, when the entire line-up is so world class, really motivates you to train harder and keep working. Personally I need to work on a lot of things going forward. I don’t have the turning legs yet to be able to change pace well, so that is something I need to focus on.

“It is a long season to work on things like that, but it is important.”

Despite the standard of the event Mohammed was less than pleased with his performance and the consequences it may have for his European hopes.

“I am thinking about the last place now and it is really horrible to be honest.”

* Sainsbury’s is a proud partner of British Athletics, reflecting Sainsbury’s wider commitment to inspiring healthy lifestyles for all, and complements grassroots campaigns such as Active Kids and the Sainsbury’s School Games.

* Andy Heyes (Hallamshire) had a superb run in the National Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill, London going one better than last year to finish runner up behind Charlie Hulston (Sale).

Heyes was going well before illness ruled him out of a big race in November. Since then his formed dipped somewhat but he returned with a bang making light of the very heavy conditions on the the famous Hampstead Heath course.

Heyes could not hold Hulston who forced the pace from the halfway mark but was too strong at the finish for third placed Nick Swinburn (Morpeth). Over 2000 finished the race.

Steven Bayton also had a fine run for Hallamshire in 34th position and the team finished a ceditable 12th, fourth club from the North.

Lily Partridge (Aldershot) won the women’s race and led her club to the expected team victory over Bristol with Rotherham repeating last year’s bronze medal performance.

Sam Johnson led them home in 19th place and Annabelle Grady (33rd), Jess Fawcett (52nd) and Robyn Lanceley (85th) completed the counting quartet to put them almost 100 points ahead of fourth placed Herne Hill. Hallamshire’s Zanthe Wray finished 48th.

At under 17 level Northern champion James Gormley (City of Sheffield) took silver medal. Other South Yorkshire athletes running well included Cameron Bell (Hallamshire) 15th, Jonathon Shields (City of Sheffield) 19th and Ryan Beale (Rotherham 25th.

In the under 15 girls race Tilly Simpson was narrowly outsprinted and took the bronze medal, a superb performance in her first year in the age group whilst Amelia Lancaster (City of Sheffield) finished fourth and Rotherham’s Mya Taylor 34th.

Other performances included - Junior Men: Bertie Houghton (Doncaster) 15th; U15 Boys: Alfie Manthorpe (City of Sheffield) 16th; Julian Slater (City of Sheffield) 27th. U13 Boys: Scott Nutter (Barnsley AC) 22nd; Taylor Hill (Hallamshire) 32nd; Joshua Ward (Barnsley AC 35th. Junior Women: Ellie Crownshaw (Hallamshire) 43rd. U17 Women: Mary McCarthy (Hallamshire) 30th. U 13 Girls: Jodie Hill (Hallamshire) 18th; Grace Harris (Rotherham) 28th; Eve Crownshaw (Hallamshire) 42nd.