British Athletics Championships 2019 Review

The 2019 Müller British Athletics Championships was set for explosive action. Many athletes were racing not only for their country’s highest accolades. A place on the Great Britain team for the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha in a months’ time was also up for grabs. The surprisingly hot and windy conditions at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham made qualifying times and positions even harder. 

Butchart Regains his 5K Title

After injury ruled Andrew Butchart out of the 2018 British Athletics Championships, he wanted to show his class in the 5,000m. Despite not running hard from the start, Butchart made a decisive (possibly pre-planned) long kick for the finish line with two and a half laps to go. Butchart’s impressive 2:28 last kilometre meant he finished in 13:54.29. He was the only man to run under fourteen minutes. Knowing that he had booked himself a spot at the World Championships, the Scot even showed off to the camera before officially claiming the title.

McColgan Claims First British Title

The race was even more emphatically won in the women’s 5,000m. Eilish McColgan dominated the race from the start, forging a sizable lead within the first lap. Perhaps, knowing that competitors such as Laura Weightman and Melissa Courtney were not at their best, McColgan ran a superb race alone. She never looked behind her shoulder. It was a gutsy performance and gave the 28-year-old her first British 5k title in a time of 15:21.38. It was more than fourteen seconds ahead of Jessica Judd in second place. 

Lively Sprinters Show Remarkable Quality

Expectations were high for Dina Asher-Smith, who has run so consistently well throughout the Diamond League season. She comfortably won her semi-final in 11.03 then broke her own Championship record from the previous year to record 10.96 and retain her 100m British title. Her dominant performance reminds her competitors to watch out in Doha.

After relative disappointment for Adam Gemili at narrowly missing out on the gold medal in the 100m men’s final, he came blasting out of the blocks for the 200m final. After the bend, Gemili maintained a strong arm drive, quick leg turnover and relaxed posture to comfortably win the title in a new championship record of 20.08. His huge grin showed how ecstatic (and most likely relieved) he was with such an outstanding performance, one that he so richly deserves.

Matthew Hudson-Smith also shone in his home city by clocking a season’s best of 45.15 and winning the 400m title comfortably. Despite recent injuries he is peaking at the right time for an opportunity to excel in Qatar’s capital.


There were so many outstanding performances over the sunny Bank Holiday weekend. But with the World Championships so close, athletes will either have to finish their last training or find another race to attempt to qualify for the event. There is still a lot more running to do before Britain can feel confident they can podium on one of the biggest stages of all.

Famous Contributions of Sir R Bannister

Twin Tracks: The Autobiography (2014) by Roger Bannister


Born in 1929, Roger Bannister grew up in Harrow, Bath and Hampstead, winning numerous races from half-mile to cross country distances in his teenage years. He later competed for Oxford, whilst studying medicine, where he would meet other top British runners.

His race reports are fascinating insights into a professional and humble man. He sheds light on his rising journey to become an Olympic medallist, only to finish fourth in a dramatic race at the Helsinki Games in 1952. This was due to exhaustion from running the 1500m heat and semi-final in the two consecutive days leading up to the final.

However, his determination to overcome the damning press and realise his potential meant he continued to train smart towards new, but no less ambitious, goals. During his time winning four AAA (British) Championships in four years, and breaking the British record for the mile, he set his sights on breaking the four-minute mile, a feat the Australian John Landy was also close to achieving.

On 6 May 1954 at the age of 25 he did just that, using his two best friends Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway to pace him at different stages along the four laps of the Iffley Road Track at Oxford University. He ran the first and last lap in under 60 seconds each, and finished in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. Significant factors contributed to his success, despite the abnormally windy day:

  • 5 rest days beforehand.

  • Lighter shoes than he was used to.

  • Ability to relax at the crucial moments of the run.

  • Willingness to wait for weather conditions to improve.

  • Positive encouragement from his friends, the crowd and one-time coach Franz Stampfl.

Then he beat Landy in the 1 mile race at the Commonwealth Games of 1954 in Vancouver with a lifetime best of 3:58.8. Bannister ended his impressive career by winning the 1500m gold medal at the European Championships in Switzerland in another lifetime best and championship record of 3:43.8.

In his book he reflects on his achievements during his decade-long running career

  • Genetics played a role in his development as a runner; he reached six foot in height and possessed strengthened legs that were naturally long in comparison to his torso. His father was also a strong runner at school.

  • Specific training with single aims that balanced well with work, family and social commitments. His training was refined over many years that consisted of either 25 miles per week, or 4-5 sessions of 40 minutes per week, incorporating a lot of fartlek and interval training.

His advice to readers to improve their running is intriguing and pragmatic:

  • Run with friends to make the hard work of training more enjoyable.

  • Find a knowledgeable coach that inspires.

  • Experiment with training but also play to strengths.

  • Learn to harness natural instincts of pacing.

But it is Bannister’s position as consultant neurologist at two major hospitals in London, and as senior advisor to organisations, such as the Sports Council and the International Council of Sport and Physical Education, that warrant even greater admiration. His work paved the way for greater funding and provision of superb sporting facilities that support greater participation at every ability level. The various honours he has received are a token of his life’s extraordinary contribution.