Annett leaves rest of field in his wake at Titanic Slipway

Andrew Annett
Andrew Annett

Andrew Annett defeated a field of 1131 to win the Spar Craic 10K Road Race which started at Belfast City Hall and finished on the Titanic Slipway.

Annett, fresh from 2nd place in the SSE 10 Miles, was always prominent and came to half way in 16:30 six seconds in front of Junior star Conal McCambridge with Chris McGuinness one second further back in front of Danny McLaughlin.

It was all Annett as he turned towards the Titanic Quarter and he came home to win in 32:56 with McGuinness moving into runner up spot thirteen seconds down and McCambridge, Phillip Goss, McLaughlin and Brendan McNally making up the top six.

Former World Marathon star Theresa Duffy was in a class of her own in the Ladies. She had a twenty three seconds cushion over Sharon Leetch at half distance which she increased to almost a minute at the end. Suzanne Higgins, Colette McCourt, Geraldine Branagh and Gemma Turley followed.

And High jumper Robbie Grabarz is hoping the 2016 season sparks an upturn in fortunes after an “exceedingly miserable” 18 months which left him questioning his future in the sport.

The 28-year-old competes for Great Britain at the World Indoor Championships in Portland on Saturday, looking to recapture the form of 2012 which saw him win bronze at the Olympics, gold at the European Championships and the Diamond Race crown.

Since then, though, he has been the forgotten man of those home Games as a knee problem, caused by years of wear and tear and which required major surgery, put his entire career under threat.

Grabarz, who missed the 2014 outdoor season to go under the knife, said: “I had pretty major surgery on my take-off knee which has put me in a place where I didn’t even know whether I’d jump again.

“I’m glad to be back in the team and be competitive again. My knee was knackered, I didn’t have an injury. I had two bursae removed, I had tendons scraped, my bone shaved, some cartilage removed.”

My surgery was set to take 45 minutes to an hour and I was in there for over three, so it was a bit more damage than they were expecting.

“The first session I did back I wasn’t able to jump 1.80 metres for a million pounds and I was thinking, ‘Why do I even bother trying to get back’. That was probably the most depressing day of my life - 1.80m, that’s a 16-year-old girl’s performance. I couldn’t do it.

“I don’t think we jumped again for another couple of weeks to let me get over that one.

“It (quitting) crossed my mind, but I never felt I was quite finished with the sport. I was pretty determined to get back and try again. Depressed is a bit extreme, but I was a bit down. I’m pretty miserable anyway normally, so I think I was exceedingly miserable for 18 months.”

Grabarz’s first competition back was in April last year and resulted in a clearance of 2.16m, lower than he had jumped as a 17-year-old a decade earlier.

He improved to make the team for that summer’s World Championships in Beijing, finishing 10th in qualifying, but has looked more like his old self in Olympic year again, with the Rio Games five months away.

A jump of 2.33m in February represented his highest clearance since 2012 and ranks him joint fifth in the world.“I’m a centimetre lower than what I jumped in the 2012 indoor season,” said Grabarz, whose personal best of 2.37m is 1cm off Steve Smith’s British record.

“It’s indicating that it’s going to be a lot better than the last couple of years.”

Grabarz is the only London 2012 medallist in a 23-strong British team in Portland, with Mo Farah, who will compete at the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff the following weekend, Jessica Ennis-Hill, who has an Achilles problem, and Greg Rutherford, a late withdrawal due to injury and illness, all absent.

But British Athletics performance director Neil Black still has high hopes for a new-look squad.

“We’re in good shape and people are raring to go,” he said. “Come the competition it’s like these guys almost turn into animals. That’s what we expect. We’re here to kill and none of them will think differently.”

Britain get their championships under way on Friday, with the likes of outdoor world long jump silver medallist Shara Proctor, James Dasaolu in the 60m, Tiffany Porter in the 60m hurdles and Morgan Lake in the pentathlon all in action.