AFTER a number of years of improvement in his specialised event, the 3,000m Steeplechase, Island Games gold medallist Daniel Eckersley had already qualified to take part in the British Athletics Championships, staged at Sports City in Manchester.

The British Championships were scheduled to also act as the ‘trial’ for the Tokyo Olympics, before they were postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus.

Isle of Wight County Press: Dan Eckersley.Dan Eckersley.

There were eight competitors in Dan’s steeplechase event and, from the gun, Mark Pearce set off at a cracking pace.

After the first 400m, Dan, of Cowes, was at the back of the field, detached from a group of three, while the pace up front continued with Phil Norman tracking Pearce as the field began to string out.

As athletes began to tire, Dan, who was last, passed Terry Fawden, and then, with 800m to go, he focused on catching Remi Adebiyi.

Isle of Wight County Press: Dan Eckersley, of Cowes.Dan Eckersley, of Cowes.

Into the final water jump, the gap was down to 10m and, with good technique over the last barrier on the home straight, the gap had halved — but Adebiyi just did enough to hold off the Islander.

Dan’s seventh, in 9mins 19.15secs, coupled with the experience of competing in such a prestigious event, has left the door open to him to still make next year’s Olympic trial with another year of hard training.