Hinchliffe wins UK 100m title to secure Olympic debut

Louie Hinchliffe
Louie Hinchliffe is coached by two-time Olympic 100m champion Carl Lewis [Getty Images]

Rising sprint star Louie Hinchliffe stunned Britain’s best to secure a fairytale Olympic 100m qualification at the UK Athletics Championships, as Daryll Neita stormed to the women’s title in Manchester.

Hinchliffe continued his sensational breakthrough year by clocking 10.18 seconds in miserable conditions to beat 2022 champion Jeremiah Azu, who also secured his place on Team GB by virtue of his top-two finish.

It comes three weeks after 21-year-old Hinchliffe became the first European man to win the United States' collegiate 100m title in 9.95secs, which put him sixth on the British all-time list.

Neita, who will target individual medals in both sprint events in Paris, began her bid for double British gold by triumphing in the women’s 100m final in 11.24secs.

World indoor pole vault champion Molly Caudery also confirmed she will appear at her first Games after demonstrating her form by taking victory with a first-time clearance at her opening height.

To be assured of a chance to contest an individual event at the Olympics, athletes must achieve a top-two finish at the qualifiers in Manchester on 29 and 30 June and also have the World Athletics qualification standard.

A selection meeting will follow the championships next week before the final British athletics squad for Paris 2024 is announced on Friday, 5 July.

Hinchliffe continues remarkable rise under coach Lewis

Neither Hinchliffe or his coach, nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis, could have seen this coming.

But on a miserable Saturday night in Manchester, amid relentless rain and an unseasonal chill, the Sheffield-born athlete wrote the latest chapter of his sporting fairytale.

Hindered by injury and having admittedly not taken his training too seriously as a first-year university student in the UK, Hinchliffe sought the guidance of athletics icon Lewis, who coaches at the University of Houston, last August.

The rapid progress he has made in the 10 months since then has been nothing short of remarkable - and, as he blazed his way down the rain-lashed track, it could not have been timed any better.

Hinchliffe announced himself as a genuine contender for Paris qualification after following up a statement wind-assisted time of 9.84secs in May by shattering the 10-second barrier for the first time in legal conditions to win the prestigious NCAA title.

The ambitious target set by Lewis during their first phone call last August was to put Hinchliffe in contention for a place on the Olympic relay team - but once again he exceeded all expectations to make his once unlikely dream a reality.

Unfazed by the enormity of the opportunity, back competing in front of his home fans, Hinchliffe overhauled Azu - himself crowned champion as a 21-year-old two years ago, in the closing stages.

They will join Zharnel Hughes in Paris, with the world bronze medallist already assured of an Olympic 100m place but absent from the championships with a hamstring injury.

Caudery confirms Olympic debut in style

A first-time clearance at her opening height of 4.41m was enough for Caudery to clinch the women’s pole vault title - and confirm she will make her Olympic debut in Paris, where she will be one of the favourites for the gold medal.

One week after setting a British record of 4.92m in France - a mark unmatched in the world this year - the world indoor champion once again starred in front of a home crowd, just as she did to win her first major title in Glasgow in February.

The in-form 24-year-old, who was disappointed to settle for European bronze in Rome, cleared 4.83m as she built towards another British record attempt and went close to achieving that with each of her three attempts at 4.93m.

Caudery said: "I have had to force myself to review my expectations. Coming into the season it was definitely about reaching Paris, now it is to medal.

"Of course the gold is the dream and after I won at the indoors I know what it is like to win, but I have also experienced disappointment."

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, with less pressure to impress at the trials after winning her second world heptathlon gold in Budapest last summer, placed ninth in the women's javelin with 42.83m.

The 31-year-old, who was forced to withdraw from the European Championships this month with a minor problem in her right leg, is only required to compete in one event at the trials - but is also entered in the 200m and high jump on Sunday as she fine-tunes her Olympic preparations.

Cindy Sember will compete in Paris after taking a dominant victory in the women's 100m hurdles in 12.85secs, while Elizabeth Bird also qualified by winning the women's 3,000m steeplechase in a championship record 9:29.67.

But Jacob Fincham-Dukes will be among the athletes waiting on the decision of the team selectors after retaining his men’s long jump title with a best leap of 7.95m, as will Anna Purchase after winning the women's hammer title with a best of 68.79m.