Max Burgin returns home to win men’s 800m final at UK Championships | Athletics
Max Burgin has carried the burden of being compared to a young Sebastian Coe or Steve Cram since he broke the world record for the 800 meters for the under-15s four years ago. But those lofty comparisons didn’t seem out of place as he led from gun to board to destroy a classy field and win his first national title.
The 20-year-old has been working on his strength and conditioning over the winter after missing the Olympics last year due to injury, and it showed when he beat Daniel Rowden and Kyle Langford to win in 1:44.54 in Manchester. It was a hell of a performance, especially in such windy conditions, but it cost him so much he was sick by the medal podium.
“I knew it was coming,” he said. “It’s just me after every race. I put so much into it that I’m a bit in the hole afterwards. It was a pretty good day for me – it was only 10-15 minutes. It took me up to half an hour before I could start walking again. I’m better, I hope.
“Obviously it’s a bit disruptive and I’m sorry that the organizers have to rearrange everything, like the medal ceremony. I hope to have some leeway when I produce good performances.
“The wind cast doubt on the best idea to race ahead, but I stuck to the plan. I thought I could handle the wind and it paid off.
It means Burgin, who is the world’s fastest man in the 800m this year, has now booked his place at the world championships in Eugene in three weeks. And he’s going there with a realistic shot at glory.
“I have no idea how I’m going to handle a three-round championship until I go out there and do it,” he said. “I have no experience. The last time I did three rounds was four years ago in Europe U18. I will go with high hopes, high ambitions and see how far they will take me.
“My times are on par with what the best are doing right now. The world championships are a different kettle. It will certainly be a different challenge, but one that I will look forward to.
Rowden was also happy to qualify after finishing second in 1:45:58. “Training is going very well,” he said. “However, the racing was awful so I’m thrilled to be second today and going to the world championships.”
In the men’s 200 meters, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake put in his best performance in years by breaking a championship record 20.05 seconds to reserve his seat on the plane for Eugene.
“I’ve been in a great place mentally,” he said. “I feel like I have a second wind in this sport now. My confidence is the highest it’s been in a very long time. That race at the time was the cleanest race I’ve had in four years and that’s great.
Behind Mitchell-Blake were two youngsters with shiny new personal bests to their names: 21-year-old Joe Ferguson, who ran 20.23 to take second place, and 19-year-old Jeriel Quainoo, who finished third in 20, 40. However, Adam Gemili, a mainstay of British teams for a decade, could only come fourth.
Daryll Neita added the 200m to his 100m title by winning in 22.34 seconds ahead of Beth Dobbin. “Double British sprint champions sound good, don’t they?” she says. “I came here to do this and I succeeded.”
There was also joy for Jemma Reekie, who endured a difficult season after suffering from glandular fever, as she won the women’s 800m in 2:06:03 ahead of Ellie Baker. The result means both women will be in the UK squad when it is announced on Tuesday.