The Loughborough International on Sunday represents a golden opportunity for many England athletes to compete in the red and white. With the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer in view, they will be hoping it won’t be their last.
However, with less than a month to go until their Birmingham 2022 qualifying window closes, this historic event could be crucial for some of those seeking England selection. Not just that, but they will enjoy the prestige of competing for their country in a meeting which was first held since 1958 and has since been the season-opener for countless household names.
England will be out to replicate their win last year as they take on hosts Loughborough University, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain & Northern Ireland Under-20s and a team representing the National Athletics League.
The meeting is set to showcase the unprecedented standards in the women’s hammer in the UK this year. England’s Katie Head (NEB; Paul Head), who has gone to third on the national all-time rankings with her recent 69.72m PB, tops the leaderboard. However, four other athletes in the field have thrown over 64m in 2022 – Jessica Mayho (NAL – Bir; John Pearson) and guest athletes Kayleigh Presswell (Marshall Milton Keynes; Paul Head), Charlotte Payne (Reading; Paul Dickenson) and Pippa Wingate (TVH; Gareth Cook). The men’s shot put has five of the top seven in the UK at the moment, including England’s Youcef Zatat (WG&EL; Scott Rider). He should be pushed closely by Wales’ Patrick Swan and guest Lewis Byng (Stratford).
Likewise, four of the UK’s top five from 2022 will be in the women’s discus circle. Olympian Jade Lally (SB; Zane Duquemin) will start favourite as she seeks the World Championships qualifying mark of 63.00m. Scotland’s Kirsty Law (Sale Harriers, Zane Duquemin) is a threat, though, while Shadine Duquemin (Shaftesbury Barnet, Zane Duquemin), from her own club and training stable, will also be a key challenger in NAL colours. Competing for England in the discus will be Greg Thompson (SB; Neville Thompson), who has been over 65m in the past. He will be looking to find that form to take on Scotland’s Nick Percy (Shaftesbury Barnet, Zane Duquemin), who has improved his PB to 64.35m recently.
Khahisa Mhlanga (Herts Phoenix; Mick Judd) will be representing England in the 1500m, where Jess Judd (Blackburn; Mick Judd) will celebrate her recent World Championships selection over 10,000m with a step down in distance for her alumni Loughborough.
In the pole vault, England’s Jade Ive (Sutton & District) is looking to build on her strong indoor season in which she cleared 4.40m. She’ll face UK all-time No.3 Molly Caudery (TVH; Stuart Caudery), who will represent Loughborough. Both have the England Commonwealth standard of 4.30m already.
Adam Hague (Club: Sheffield & Dearne, Coach: Trevor Fox) is another big name for England in the men’s pole vault. The vaulter will be joined on the runway by Owen Heard (Harrow; Kate Rooney), who gained a Loughborough team slot following his recent breakthrough to 5.27m.
England’s Sabrina Sinha (Camb H; Bud Baldaro) will go in the 800m where GB Juniors’ Abigail Ives (Basildon; Luke Gunn) brings her recent 2:02 form.
The women’s 400m hurdles could be a close contest. When they faced each other in the Manchester International last summer, England’s Hayley McLean (SB; Chris Zah) and NAL’s Nicole Kendall (TVH; Richard Holt) were separated by just 0.22 seconds. McLean will be looking to reverse the result here. Wales’ Caryl Granville (Swansea, Darrell Maynard) should not be discounted, though; she ran Kendall close recently at the NAL. As he lines up for England in the 400m hurdles, Jacob Paul (WSEH; Marina Armstrong) seeks to build on his strong sub-50-second start to the season. Scotland’s Jack Lawrie (WGEL, Jared Deacon) will be looking to keep it a tight race.
For England in the long jump, Jacob Fincham-Duke (Leeds; Zivile Pukstiene) is set to make his domestic season debut following his recent windy 8.45m in the States. Meanwhile, in the triple jump for England, Ben Williams (Stoke; Aston Moore) is looking for Birmingham standard of 16.60m.
The action kicks off at 10.45am and will be live-streamed by Vinco – it will be free to watch but you will need a login.