The opening National Age Group Track and Field Champs of 2020 certainly confirmed one thing: there’s a perfect vision in place for this year – and far beyond – as day two in Sheffield produced a seemingly endless string of amazing performances.
Where to start?
How about Niah Akintokun (Shaftesbury Barnet, Ty Holden) running 24.68 in the U15 girls’ 200! That wasn’t just the winning time, it was also the second fastest time ever in the UK and a CBP (previous mark, 24.72). ‘I came to Sheffield hoping for sub 25 and it’s fantastic to do the double (she won the 60 on Saturday),’ she said.
Then again, there’s always Temi Ojora (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, Daniel Sawyers) who took the U20 women’s triple jump with a CBP 12.92m, a 3cm improvement on the 2008 mark. ‘In the end I was a bit disappointed I didn’t crack 13m, but then again I was only here because my coach told me to. I didn’t really think I would compete as I haven’t done anything this year,’ she said.
Or how about an athlete also in CBP-setting form, Lewis Byng (Stratford-upon-Avon, Stuart Carlaw) who hit 18.69m in round three of the U20 men’s shot, bettering the 2005 record of 18.57! He has thrown in excess of 19 metres this season, so it was perhaps understandable he didn’t seem overly impressed with that effort! ‘I was a little bit disappointed I didn’t get my best (19.18m),’ he said. ‘But I am pleased with the CBP,’ he added, ‘and the circle was a little bit slippery, so I coped as well as I could in the conditions.’
Frustrated for a different reason was Kelechi Aguocha (Blackheath and Bromley, Fuzz Caan) who floated over 2.17m at the third attempt to win the U20 men’s high jump. But it was his three oh-so-close attempts at 2.23m (a height no one has cleared this century) that really caught the eye. On another day he’ll be over that and more, no doubt.
Back on the track, swift sprinting was very much order of the day, complete with national records and top-ranking all-time performances, not to mention repeat victories. Fabian Powell (Corby, Bill Boyd) got the ball rolling by winning the U15 boys’ 300m in 36.64, good for No.3 on the all-time list, before Dean Patterson (Larkhall, Angela Young) went a just that bit better to win the U15 boys’ 200 in 22.58 in a Scottish national record.
Then, keen to get in on the outstanding sprint performances act, Success Eduan (Sale Harriers Manchester, Anita Richardson) clocked 24.13 to add the U17 women’s 200m title to the U15 gold she won last year. It was a case of ‘if you can, I will too’ for Scarlett Gammell (Watford, Brian Hopkins) who clocked 8.73 (after an 8.68 qualifier) to take the U17 women’s 60m hurdles final, a year after winning the U15 gold.
Looking very sharp in the final after a shaky qualifier was Jaiden Dean (City of Norwich, Keith Yellop) who won the U15 boys’ 60m hurdles in 8.23, a tantalising 0.03 shy of the 18-year-old age group best. The first five ran PBs.
Then, just for all the older spectators in Sheffield, the U20 men’s 60m hurdles provided a case of déjà vu as Joseph Harding (Basildon/Oaklands Col, Tony Jarrett) won in 7.90, his low to the hurdles style looking very coach Jarrett-like. It was like being in the 1990s watching Tony fly to 13.00 for the 110H!
Back on the field, Jerel Livingston (Trafford, Tom Cullen) opened his account with a game-winning 6.96m in the U17 men’s long jump. The 8th best jumper ever in the UK then extended his lead to 7.22m in round two and finally 7.24m with his fifth jump.
Saving his best for last, the UK No.1 going into the U15 boys’ long jump final, Dante Clarke (Herne Hill, Anthony Mayhew) also became the 8th best of all time to win the gold medal with 6.33m. His previous PB had been 6.21m, so that was a significant move onwards, but spare a thought for Edward Charles (Halesowen, Malcolm Taylor) who improved from 5.74m coming into the competition to first 6.09m (which had been leading) and then 6.20m, responding to Dante’s massive final effort just a second or two before. Thrilling stuff! ‘I feel great jumping a PB and I’m really happy to win,’ said Dante, while Edward was equally over the moon with his 46cm PB. ‘I’m really chuffed, and I had been looking forward to the competition.’
There was a similar swing of fortune in the shot as the early leader found a huge lifetime best would prove to be not quite enough. For the eventual winner, it was a case of keep calm and not panic when your closest competitor puts in a big throw. Instead work to your strengths and that’s exactly what Jack Halpin (Gateshead, Alex Giles) did after Rhys Allen (Southampton, Dave Callaway) had taken the lead with a PB of 15.43m. Jack, who has thrown in excess of 16 metres this season, had been in second place early on, but always edging ever closer with throws of 15.02m and 15.38m before he finally took the lead – and the gold medal – with 15.61m before topping it all off with a final throw of 15.74m. ‘I’m really happy to win after being second last year,’ said Jack. ‘I was second until the fifth round so it’s really nice to come out on top.’
Serena Vincent (City of Portsmouth, Bronwin Carter/Andrew Vincent) was also in her best-ever shape as she extended her lifetime best to 15.47m in the second round to win the title. Meanwhile, in the U15 final Alastair Brown (West Suffolk, Ray Radley) took the title thanks to his huge 14.19m effort in the fifth round.
Tactics were name of the game in the middle distances. For instance, sometimes it pays to be bold like Keira Brady-Jones (Wirral, Sarah Kearney) in the U17 women’s 800m. Given the way she flew through the opening lap in a shade over 30 seconds, it was clear she only had one thing on her mind – run the legs off the opposition. She whipped through 400m in 61.8, holding off inevitable late charge to win in 2:10.00. And sometimes it pays to wait. In the men’s U20 race it was a different story for Simon Coppard (Tonbridge/Loughborough Students, Pete Brenchley) who waited through a relaxed opening 400 metres (58.4) before surging hard with 300 metres left to win in 1:54.70.
And finally, especially for you stat fans out there, the U20 men’s pole vault went to a jump-off between the defending two-time champion Frankie Johnson (Bedford and County, Simon Eastwood) looking for a super rare hat-trick and George Hopkins (Woking, Nick Phipps), hoping to add this title to the one he took last year as an U17. Both missed 4.80m as well as 4.75m, where Frankie then had to withdraw having picked up an injury meaning the title went to George.
Find out more…
If you weren’t there to catch the action in person, catch-up on all the action online. All the links you need below: