"The Sky's The Limit" For Louie Hinchliffe, Says Carl Lewis

“The sky’s the limit” for Louie Hinchliffe, says Carl Lewis

US-based Sheffield sprinter makes his mark on first day of the UK Champs in Manchester as Daryll Neita takes women’s 100m title

British athletics fans caught their first sight of Louie Hinchliffe at the UK Championships on Saturday (June 29) and he didn’t disappoint. After impressing on the US collegiate circuit in recent weeks, the 21-year-old stormed to victory on a damp evening in Manchester to seal a spot in the GB team for Paris.

Louie Hinchliffe

With Olympic selection now secure, he will go to the French capital aiming to make the 100m final at his first Games. After convincingly beating Jeremiah Azu and CJ Ujah to the national title this weekend – albeit in the absence of UK record-holder Zharnel Hughes – it is impossible to ignore his relay potential too.

How fast can he go in coming weeks? “The sky’s the limit!” said nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis, who coaches Hinchliffe at the University of Houston and who travelled to Manchester to watch his young charge fly to victory.

Hinchliffe’s rise through the ranks this summer is phenomenal. Last year he had a modest 100m best of 10.17 but caught the eye in May with a wind-assisted 9.84 in Arkansas followed by winning the prestigious NCAA title in 9.95 in Eugene at the start of this month.

His time in Manchester on Saturday wasn’t fast at 10.18 (-0.8) but the cool and wet conditions at just past 8pm weren’t conducive to quick performances as he won by seven hundredths of a second.

As a measure of his progress, he was only third in his heat at these championships two years ago in 10.42 despite enjoying a tailwind.

"The sky's the limit" for Louie Hinchliffe, says Carl Lewis

Louie Hinchliffe (left) (Getty)

Hinchliffe is an unlikely sprint star. Relatively short in stature, he runs with a pronounced forward lean and unlike many shorter sprinters he has strong acceleration toward the end of his races.

Born in Sheffield – his dad is from Rotherham and mum from the Philippines – he played golf seriously until the age of 16 and briefly studied at Lancaster University, which coincidentally is not far from Manchester, before moving to the University of Houston.

A striking figure on the track and off it, in Manchester he was wearing safety pins as ear-rings under a ‘mullet’ haircut. Quietly spoken, he also took his post-race questions in his stride on Saturday.

“I’m just trying to take this all in and not get too ahead of myself, stay humble and take it in my stride,” said Hinchliffe. “The first conversation I had with coach Carl (Lewis), he put the idea in my head that I could make the team for Paris, so it was always a possibility.”

"The sky's the limit" for Louie Hinchliffe, says Carl Lewis

Daryll Neita (Getty)

The first day of these championships saw only one men’s track final but there were four women’s finals on the track.

Daryll Neita won the women’s 100m with ease in 11.24 (-1.5) from Amy Hunt’s 11.41 and Imani Lansiquot’s 11.43 with rising star Joy Eze disqualified for a false start. Sunday’s showdown with Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m will be more competitive.

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“It feels good to get another British title,” said Neita. “Conditions were hard in the rain again and then a false start as well. But it is all about focus for me which is what I am trying to do this year as I know I have the skill and speed now.”

Cindy Sember was a class apart in the 100m hurdles as she clocked 12.85 (-1.8) to qualify for her third Olympic Games as Alicia Barrett was runner-up in 13.40 and Jess Hunter third in 13.41 followed by European Under-18 Champs-bound heptathlete Thea Brown.

"The sky's the limit" for Louie Hinchliffe, says Carl Lewis

Lizzie Bird (Getty)

Lizzie Bird sealed Olympic selection in the 3000m steeplechase with a clear win in a championships record of 9:29.67.

Hannah Nuttall looked like she was dropped and defeated in the latter stages of the 5000m but she grittily caught up the leaders and then won a thrilling home straight sprint with Verity Ockenden to narrowly take the title in 15:13.70 as Izzy Fry, who had done lots of the work in the final laps, was a close third.

The cool conditions were good for distance runners and the race saw a spate of PBs. These included Innes FitzGerald, who jumped to No.3 on the UK under-20 all-time rankings with 15:26.76.

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