Holly Mills retained her title and edged her own championship best performance higher as Sheffield played host to the first England Athletics national championship of 2019. With the men’s heptathlon competitions underway the senior women will also be in action for their pentathlon championship on Sunday.
Under 20 women’s pentathlon
There was a sense of deja-vu as defending champion Holly Mills (Club: Andover AC, Coach: Laura Turner-Alleyne) once again not only took the title but scored a Championship Best Performance. Last year her performance across the five events carried her to a 4049 total and this year she pushed that figure out to 4051.
Holly was leading from the first event of the day having opened up with an 8.60 (995pts) in the 60m hurdles. And Jenna Blundell (Club: Team Bath AC, Coach: Julie Alexander) made her intentions clear with an 8.71 (917pts). That performance put her in the second position ahead of Abigail Pawlett (Club: Stockport Harriers & AC, Coach: Joe Frost), competing d up from the Under 17 ranks, and her 8.80 (952pts).
The high jump saw three athletes, including Abigail, going clear at 1.73 (891pts) as well as a 1.76 by Ashleigh West (Club: Medway & Maidstone, Coach: John Bancroft). This moved 16-year-old Abigail closer to the top spot, now in second place, but Holly went over at 1.70 (855pts) to ensure she remained in the lead.
In the shot Holly’s best mark was a 11.01 (596pts) and this saw Amaya Scott (Club: Southampton AC, Coach: Matthew Watson) move into the lead as her 13.29 (747pts) set the standard. But it was little surprise that Holly, the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games long jump champion, made an impact in that event. Leaping out to 6.01 (853pts) she was back in top spot with Amaya’s 5.75 (774pts) next best and cementing her second position ahead of Abigail 5.62 (735pts). Also jumping well was Jenna who hit 5.64 (741pts) to stay in fourth place.
It was then down to see 800m. As Holly came in second fastest of all in 2:25.39 (752pts) she had done enough to not only retain the title but also add two points to her championship best performance from last year. Not far behind was Amaya’s 2:29.91 (694pts) to ensure silver. But, having been in fourth place since the shot, a 2:30.51 (686pts) carried Jenna back into third place and it was her who was taking the bronze medal.
Senior Men’s heptathlon
At the end of Day One it is John Lane (Club: City of Sheffield and Dearne AC, Coach: Toni Minichiello) who is setting the pace in the senior men’s heptathlon with a total of 3234 points.
Jack Phipps (Club: Birchfield Harriers, Coach: Nick Phipps) was quickest away at the start of the day with his 6.85 (936pts) putting him ahead of Daniel Walsh (Club: Gateshead, Coach: Sam Stanislaus) and his 6.94 (904pts). But two times Commonwealth Games John was already in the mix in third place with a 7.02 (875pts). From here he retained top spot throughout day one with a 7.33 (893pts) long jump, 13.23 (681pts) shot and a 1.98 (785pts) high jump.
The last event of the day saw Howard Bell (Club: Edinburgh AC, Coach: Iain McEwan) move from seventh to second after his 2.01 (813pts) clearance. This meant he was one of four athletes to successfully clear 2 metres. Aiden Davies (Club: Doncaster, Coach: Sam Stanislaus) lies in the third of the medal positions after the first day just eight points behind (3012 to 3004). But with the second day lying ahead there is plenty of action to come.
Under 20 men’s heptathlon
Everything is very tight at the top of the Under 20’s competition with less than 160 pts covering first to sixth place, and just 54 points covering all the medal positions at the end of Day One. It is Scott Brindley (Club: North Ayrshire AC, Coach: Mark Stringer) who is only just moved up from the Under 17 ranks who leads with 2861 points from last year’s silver medallist Joel McFarlane (Club: Arbroath & District Athletics Club, Coach: Ian McFarlane) on 2843. In third at this point is Jack Turner (Club: Exeter Harriers, Coach: Kevin Skinner) on 2807.
Jack had been in top spot until the pole vault, this time being held on the first day of competition with the high jump coming tomorrow. And it was this event that saw the leader board start to look very tight. Jack’s personal best equalling 3.90 (590pts) was surpassed by Scott (4.50, 760pts), Joel (4.10, 645pts) and five other athletes who all went clear at 4 metres or higher. Tellingly it is these athletes who now make up the top eight showing how the pole vault has a real significance in shaking up the standings. With it now out of the way the battle for medals with be decided by the high jump, 60m hurdles and the 1000m coming on Day Two.
Photograph Andy Chubb.