Holly Mills (Club: Andover AC, Coach: James Coney) made a record breaking return to combined events when she took the England Athletics U20 Indoor Pentathlon title. Both Holly and Jade O’Dowda (Club: Oxford City AC, Coach: Marcia Marriott) eclipsed the former championship record as the Senior and U20 men also got their championships underway.
By the end of the five events the Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist and England long jump champion Holly had reached 4049 points ahead of Jade’s 4013, with bronze medallist Pippa Earley (Club: Kingston AC & Poly Harriers, Coach: John Shepherd / Lloyd Cowan) clocking the fastest 800m of the day to move herself into the bronze medal position on 3840. It is the first combined events competition for Holly since 2013.
The day got underway with some swift sprint hurdling as Holly clocked an 8.65 (984pts) to take the lead from Pippa, last year’s winner of the national age group 60m hurdles title, who was also under 8.70 with 8.69 (976pts). Jade’s 8.77 (959pts) put her in the bronze medal position early on, having last year been the English Schools’ AA combined event champion.
She improved on that courtesy of a 1.74 (903pt) high jump that took her ahead of Holly whose 1.71 clearance was good for 867 points. With Pippa clearing 1.56 (689 pts) it was Natasha Smith (Club: Stroud & District AC, Coach: Kerry Eddie) who moved into third with her 1.71 (867pts).
The shot saw things changing again in third place. While Jade recorded a 11.26 (612pts) for the best mark and Holly a 10.43 (558pts) to retain the one-two it was Alice Linaker (Club: City of York AC, Coach: Matt Barton) who now moved third as she recorded a 10.33 which was good for 551pts.
Unsurprisingly as the Commonwealth Youth Games and England Under 20 long jump champion Holly was able to achieve strong points in this event. A second round 6.17 gave her 902pts which overhauled the deficit on Jade (5.86, 807pts) and put her into a 30-point lead. Alice still held third at this point after her 5.51 (703pts) but Pippa was moving back up into medal contention with the third best jump of the competition – a 5.74 (771pts).
The 800m saw a close competition between Holly and Jade with the champion clocking 2:26.45 (738pts) and the silver medallist 2:26.89 (732pts). Grace Bower (Club: Sale Harriers Manchester, Coach: Mike Holmes) actually split the two in the third race with 2:26.46 (738pts). But fastest of all was Pippa who clocked 2:15.10 (891pts) to claim bronze.
With the previous Championship Record standing at 3965 to Morgan Lake from 2013, both Holly (4049pts) and Jade (4013pts) superseded this, as well as breaking the 4000 point mark. They now stand at seventh and eighth on the British U20 all-time list, just behind the 4089 of a certain Jessica Ennis-Hill.
(Photographs – Andy Chubb – www.peverilphoto.com)
Senior Men’s Heptathlon Day One
Last year’s England Athletics Senior Decathlon champion James Finney (Club: Leeds City AC, Coach: Sam Stanislaus, U23) held a strong position at the end of the first day.
In third place after a 7.18 (819) in the 60m he took the lead with a 7.29 (883pt) long jump; the only athlete over 7m. He then consolidated his position with a 12.62 (644pt) shot. The high jump saw him extend his lead – one of three men over 2m, he cleared 2.04 (joint highest and 840pts) to head into the second day on 3186 points.
Second placed Curtis Mathews (Cardiff, Lawrence Moore) made steady progress through the leader board after lying in 11th place after the 60m. His 14.23 (742pts) shot performance was almost a metre further than his nearest rival and put him into third place. A 1.95 high jump (758pts) moved him to 3018 points at the end of the day.
Also progressing throughout was Lewis Church (Club: Tonbridge AC, Coach: David Hull) who was 16th after the first event moved steadily through the ranks; the Under 23, who was England Athletics Senior Decathlon silver medallist in 2016, was up to sixth place after the shot and then cleared 2.01 (813pts) in the high jump to end the day in third place with 2955. But with Harry Kendall (Club: Tonbridge AC, Coach: Mike Corden, 2925) and Aiden Davies (Club: Doncaster AC, Coach: Sam Stanislaus, 2917) also over 2900 at the end of the first day, the competition for medals is far from over.
Under 20 Men’s Heptathlon Day One
Caius Joseph (Club: Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC, Rafer Joseph) put in an impressive first day to lead from Joel McFarlane (Club: Arbroath & District AC) by almost 200 points going into day two. He led throughout with a 7.09 (851pts) 60m, 7.04 (823pts) long jump, and 13.89 (722pts) shot not only seeing him in first place but also highest scoring in each of the first four events. The pole vault is often the event where the leader board sees a shake-up but a 3.88 (584pts) clearance saw him safely navigate this with his lead intact on 2980. Joel did make some inroads into that lead with a 3.98 (612pts) in the pole vault to move to 2781. With third place held overnight by guest athlete Nicolas Gerome of Quimper Athletisme (France, 2665) the next best positioned athlete was Robbie Farquhar (Club: Aberdeen AAC, Kenny Lyon, 2586).