The World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships kicked off today in Toruń, Poland, with British representation across the board, and plenty of medals to boot.

3000m Finals

A stunning 29 British athletes competed in the 3000 metre races that took up the vast majority of the track time on Sunday.

In the first race of the championships, W80 Betty Stracey took silver for the British team in a time of 21:08.99, undeterred by the eye-watering 8:30 start time. Susan McDonald came close to a W55 medal two races later, finishing fourth in 11:11.10.

In the men’s races, M80 Philip Brennan and M65 Brian Green also placed fourth, recording 15:08.91 and 10:57.10 respectively.

The three age categories after, however, saw a medal treble. First up, British M60 indoor mile record holder David Clarke secured a bronze (9:52.20) in the first of his three events at the championships.

M55 David Cowlishaw, after recent record breaking in the 4×800 relay, won a silver with 9:27.52, before Tony O’Brien secured M50 gold in 8:52.75, just over three seconds outside Nigel Gates’ British record.

Cowlishaw racing at Lee Valley in February | Photo: James Davis

In a curiously seeded M40 event, only the gold medal was won in the A final, with Ian Williamson leading the B final home in 8:44.15 for silver, less than two seconds away from the winning Italian.

400m Heats

The W45s were the sole women’s age group contesting the 400 metres on the opening day, and Susie McLoughlin cruised through as a non-automatic qualifier from the second heat.

Placing second in a time of 60.48, the third-fastest on the day, McLoughlin’s final is scheduled for two days’ time.

There were five M70 athletes in action over two laps, Simon Barrett (67.11) and Adrian Essex (67.96) both qualifying, and Walwyn Franklyn and David Hinds seventh- and eighth-fastest, less than a second away from reaching Tuesday’s six man final.

Tennyson James’s 62.82 saw him reach the M65 final as second-fastest qualifier, while five M60s made it into their semi-finals, 2022 outdoor world champion John Wright almost a second faster than any of his challengers in 57.93.

Adrian Haines and Wole Odele qualified into the M55 semi-finals, Haines as the third best qualifier in 58.12.

Haines before racing at Lee Valley | Photo: James Davis

Steven Baldock (56.90) qualified for the M50 semi-finals, shortly followed by M45 Darren Towart (54.66), as well as Gavin Stephens, whose 52.81 was the fastest M45 heat time by some way.

In a tough round of qualifying, with 24 M40s competing for six final spots, Rick Beardsell was a non-automatic qualifier in 52.11, while M35s Craig Cox (51.24) and Lewis Robson (51.38) were fifth- and sixth-fastest respectively in their age group to make it through to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Long Jump

Craig Beecham set a season’s best of 6.02 in the opening round on the way to M50 long jump silver. The Newbury athlete put together a series containing four valid jumps upwards of 5.90 to claim his medal.

Beecham (109) racing in Sheffield in 2022 | Photo: James Davis

In the M40 competition, four hours later, Neil Barton achieved the same result, scoring a silver on the merits of an opening round jump. His 6.50 led briefly, and the Basingstoke and Mid Hants man followed up with a 6.48 leap in the final round to secure his medal.

High Jump

All of the women’s high jump competitions were taking place on the opening day of the championships, and British W60 indoor high jump record holder Carole Filer wasted no time in securing a W65 medal, her 1.25 only seeing her beaten to silver on countback.

Both Deborah Dasse (W35) and Melanie Garland (W60) were a height away from the medals with 1.50 and 1.31 respectively.

Shot Put

Already multiple British shot champion this season, inside and out, Paula Williams was on great form in the first throws event of these championships.

With a new W50 British record of 13.05 set at the indoor championships in Sheffield, the Midland Masters athlete put the shot 12.66 this time around to take W50 bronze.

Marianne Berndt went one better to place second in the W40 category, her 10.70 mark seeing her occupy the same spot on the podium as she did outdoors at the BMAF Winter Throws Championships.

Discus Throw

Despite lesser British numbers in the long throws, Claire Cameron brought home a bronze in the W60 discus throw.

Her 25.28 throw in the third round was the best of a series that had five throws over 23 metres, and was just four centimetres further than the fourth-placed Polish athlete.

The championships continue on track tomorrow with heats in the men’s 60 metres and 3000 metre walk, as well as the 400 metre semi-finals. Outside of the stadium, both men and women will be racing cross country, with field events continuing in almost all disciplines.

By James Davis

James is Track & Field Communications lead for BMAF, as well as an athletics official, event organiser, and sports journalist.