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Hayley McLean left devastated by disqualification
Hayley McLean went from crying tears of joy to ones of despair as track judges denied her the gold medal at the UK Under-20 Championships and more importantly, the qualifying time for the World Junior Championships.
McLean, 17, from Stanford-le-Hope, lit up the championships in Bedford yesterday morning with a superb win in the 400m hurdles in what she thought was a new personal best and world juniors qualifying standard time of 58.28s.
The Palmer’s College teenager collapsed on to the track in joy, but she had barely time to celebrate the news when she was unceremoniously hauled in front of a track judge who told her she had been disqualified for not clearing hurdles one and two correctly.
An appeal was lodged immediately video evidence was found, but the judges held their ground leaving McLean inconsolable.
“I couldn’t hold my emotions in when I was told,” said McLean.
“They had dragged me out in front of everyone to tell me and it was a bit embarrassing to break down in front of everyone like that, but I couldn’t help it.
“I’m just so upset and angry.”
It was better news for most of the other south Essex track athletes competing at the championships.
Jess Judd, 17, cruised to the gold medal in the under-20 women’s 1,500m in 4m 29.14s to warm up nicely for her 800m at the Olympic Trials this weekend.
And Gemma Kersey won her first national outdoors title in the under-23 1,500m.
She ran a perfectly controlled, tactical race to win in 4m 35.56s, which included a 61s last lap.
“It feels really good,” said Kersey, of Basildon AC. “I knew it was going to be a tactical race and we had a plan.
“I didn’t know the last lap was 61s, it didn’t feel like it! I just knew I had to be in position at the bell and I kicked a bit with 400m to go, but held a bit back for the last 200m. I’m really pleased.”
Kersey’s Basildon AC team-mate Kaylee Dodd, 16, stepped up an age group into the under-20s and won a bronze in the 800m, finishing in style to claim a season’s best of 2m 09.06s.
“I’m really happy,” said Dodd. “I knew I had the finish, that’s my strength, and I pushed hard to get the medal. To win a medal in the under-20s as an under-17s isn’t bad.”
Elsewhere Basildon AC's Tariq Martin finished sixth in the under-20 men's discus (46.68m) while Liam Yarwood (4.40m) and Mitch Etheridge (4.10m) finished fifth and eighth respectively.
Yarwood and Etheridge were only jumping after being forced to return on the Sunday after the high winds on Saturday saw their original competition cancelled because of safety concerns.
Sophie Riches, another under-17 athlete stepping up an age group, finished ninth in the under-20 1,500m in 4m 40.75s.
*For an in-depth interview with Hayley McLean, see the Echo later this week.