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Melanie Purkiss, GBR

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Credits: UK Athletics, Southern Daily Echo


Full Name: Melanie Purkiss
Born: 11th March 1979, (Southampton)
Height: 1.65m
Event: 400m
Club: Team Southampton, formerly Team Solent
County: Todd Bennet

Personal Bests:

6 Jul 2002
Birmingham, GBR
11.76 (+0.2)
23 Jul 1999
Birmingham, GBR
11.55w (+2.8)
19 Jun 1999
Cork, IRE
23.80 (-0.3)
30 May 1999
Bedford, GBR
23.64w (+3.8)
19 Jun 1999
Cork, IRE
6 Feb 1999
Birmingham, GBR
25 Jan 2004
Birmingham, GBR


Purkiss first showed promise at the 200m, taking the English Schools’ silver medal in 1996.


Melanie took the silver medals at the AAA U20 Championships in the 100m and 200m.


Melanie went on to run sprint relays at the 1999 European U23 Championships, helping Britain to second place, but she was always happier in the 200m.


She added the AAA U23 200m title in 2000 and was victorious in the U23 international against Spain.


She moved up to 400m, but the first season in the longer event was hampered by a hip injury.


She made a big breakthrough in 2002. After running 53.73 indoors she progressed throughout the outdoor campaign and had already dipped inside 53 seconds before she arrived in Manchester for the Commonwealth Games. She reached the semi-finals and was close to her PB, and then ran a 52.03 split to help England to the 4x400m silver medals.

Commonwealth Games, Manchester

Another relay outing came at the European Championships, where she ran a 51.90 leg.


Melanie Purkiss hopes to recapture the form of 2002 when she turns out for Team Solent at Hendon on Saturday in the UK Women's League. The 25-year-old from Otterbourne announced her arrival on the British 400 metres scene in the same competition two years ago by setting a storming personal best of 52.99 seconds.

Although Purkiss went on to clinch selection for the Commonwealth Games that year, striking silver for England in the 4x400 metres relay, she lost momentum last summer and would dearly like to get it back in time for next month's Olympic trials in Manchester (July 10/11) where she hopes to bag a relay berth for Athens.

Purkiss, doubling up this weekend with another 400m run in Sunday's Loughborough International, has started the season in promising style.

Having cruised to a 53.76 victory at last month's Hampshire Championships, she gave European Under-23 champion Helen Karagounis a run for her money in Monday's Inter-Counties final at Bedford.

Whereas Karagounis tied up in the last few strides after a storming first 200m, Purkiss ran her race in reverse, finding fresh legs down the home straight to finish in 53.72 seconds behind the winner's 53.32 championship best.

Purkiss reflected: "The time wasn't fantastic but there are always pluses and minuses to take from races and having spoken to Todd (coach Todd Bennett), he was happy with how strong I came back in the last 200m, particularly against someone as strong as Helen.

"I've been running quite a few 200s in training and consistently clocking 23.8 or 23.9, so the speed is there - it's just a matter of putting it all together before the trials. I've got six weeks and quite a few races in between before I go away for a week's training in Portugal."

Mel: Only me to blame!

MELANIE Purkiss admits she has no one but herself to blame for missing the boat to Athens.

Along with former Southampton star Iwan Thomas, 25-year-old Purkiss was dealt a major body blow this week when she was omitted from Britain's final selections for the 4x400 metres relay.

But unlike British record holder Thomas, right, who took a swipe at the selectors, Purkiss - a 4x400m silver medallist for England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games - has taken the decision firmly on the chin.

She said: "People often get a bit upset about selections, but I'm not going to blame anyone. It's for me to put myself in the position to be selected and I have to be honest and say I haven't done that."

With five athletes named in the first wave of selections, it was a straight fight between Purkiss and AAA indoor champion Catherine Murphy for the sixth spot. Although Purkiss finished a place ahead of Murphy in fifth at the AAA Trials, the Team Solent sprinter has failed to break the 53-second barrier for the last two seasons. When it came to the crunch last Saturday, Purkiss clocked a 53.51 victory at Loughborough, but Murphy produced the trump card of a 52.18 run in Madrid.

Purkiss, who ranks seventh in the UK this season compared to Murphy's fifth, reflected: "If selection had been based on the first five at the Trials - plus Donna Fraser - I would have been in, but it doesn't work like that.

"I saw Catherine at a meeting last Sunday and I congratulated her.

"There's nothing personal at all and I would never say that the people selected are not deserving. We've got a strong relay team and I wish all the girls well."

But she confessed: "When I watch the Olympics I'll know I would have been capable of pulling my weight in the relay.

"It's just a pity that the times I've done have not reflected how fast I'm running in training.

"I had a taste of success at the Commonwealth Games two years ago, but I missed out last year as well.

"Hopefully it'll make me stronger and I'll bounce back for the World Championships in Helsinki next year and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006."



Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix – Report

400m (53.40 seconds): Leading pair Melanie Purkiss (Southampton) and Kim Wall (Basildon AC) both beat the qualifying time in a race closely watched by selectors of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland 4x400m squad for the European Indoor Championships. Purkiss led through 200m in 24.58 with Wall, at 21 the ‘baby’ of the field, on her shoulder. Try as she might, Wall could not repeat her feat of five days earlier when she swept past Catherine Murphy (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) in the final strides of the Norwich Union European Indoor Trials and AAA Championships at the EIS Sheffield. But both Purkiss, who finished in 52.98 seconds, and Wall, half a stride behind in 53.21, were rewarded with personal bests. This means that GB now has three athletes inside the European Indoors qualifying standard. European Under 23 Champion Helen Karagounis (Birchfield Harriers) took third in 53.93.

“It was a last minute decision to run here. I wanted to see what shape I am in, so it’s fantastic that I came and ran a PB. If the selectors would like to pick me for Madrid, I would be delighted. I love running for GB. I didn’t run the Trials last week so I would not like to take the place of someone who did. If they need me for the relay, I would be more than happy to go.”



South of England Championships

Pre-race: The 400m could feature GB relay team members Lesley Owusu (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) and Melanie Purkiss (Team Southampton). The 400m Hurdles also looks a good race with England's Commonwealth Games representative Sian Scott (Team Southampton) up against clubmate Emma Duck and Hannah Stares (Belgrave).


Norwich Union World Trials & AAA Championships - 400m

Pre-race - The Women’s 400m will be contested by World Championship 4x400m Bronze medallist Nicola Sanders (WSEH), building towards her first Commonwealth Games in March. The challenge will come from Melanie Purkiss (Team Southampton) who recently broke the UK 300m indoor best at Manchester. The 26-year-old clocked 37.12 to finally erase the record of 37.46 that had stood to Sharon Colyear since 14 March 1981 … when little Mel was only two! 

Second in Manchester, Helen Karagounis (Birchfield) clocked 37.62 to go fourth on the UK alltime list behind Lee McConnell, who achieved 37.57 at the NIA a year ago.