Tuesday, 23 May 2017 12:02

British Championships loom for North Devon’s Phil Norman after Loughborough International gold

The 27-year-old finished the 3000m steeplechase in 8:42.89 at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium

Barnstaple’s Phil Norman took gold at the 59th Loughborough International Athletics event on Sunday.

The 27-year-old from Braunton won the 3000m steeplechase while representing England at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium.

He finished in 8:42.89 to take first place, sprinting ahead of British Universities’ Dan Jarvis (8:43.09).

Norman’s Woodford Green club-mate Adam Kirk-Smith finished third with a time of 8:46.26.

“It’s probably the best race I’ve had to date,” said Norman.

“The pacemaker set a pace I could run comfortably, so I stuck in behind him and got a clear run of the hurdles. I didn’t want to be caught behind and run the risk of bumping into someone or getting tripped.

“I got into a good position and when he peeled off I thought I would stay in and control it.”

A front-runner from the off, Norman didn’t dip out of the top two in a race that he very much controlled.

The pack of 11 dropped to four leaders, then to two as Norman and Jarvis battled it out over the final two laps.

Jarvis made a move with 250 metres remaining, and began to pull away, but after two good jumps, Norman came back with a sprint finish, passing his rival in the final metres.

“He went past me on the back straight, but I didn’t panic and kept going, and I knew that he must have used a lot to get past me on that straight,” Norman said.

“Luckily I’ve got a good sprint.”

The Barnstaple man’s next steeplechase will be at the British Championships.

The event at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on July 1 also serves as the trials for this year’s IAAF World Championships in London.

The top two from the trials will qualify for the championships, as will any time under 8:32.00.

Norman said: “There are a few guys who have run it quicker, but I’m targetting a medal.

“I have an outside chance with the World Championships, but I’m not getting ahead of myself.”