Top multi-eventers from home and abroad will gather in Bedford on Saturday and Sunday for the England Athletics Senior & U20 Combined Event Championships. England’s first championships of the summer will present a great chance for athletes to gain qualifying marks, such as for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, while particularly close competition is expected in some age groups.
The senior events’ inclusion in the World Combined Events Tour, with first prizes of €2000, has attracted strong opposition for defending heptathlon champion Jade O’Dowda. In the under-20 category, Murray Fotheringham looks to build on his superb indoor season and heptathlon starlet Abigail Pawlett faces a good field. The international element has also contributed to a good volume of entries after last year’s pandemic restrictions kept numbers down.
Senior men’s decathlon
Lewis Church (club: Tonbridge; coach: David Hull) will seek his third consecutive title in these championships, having recently gained the Commonwealths qualifier. The Tonbridge AC athlete, who also took England indoor heptathlon gold last winter, improved his PB to 7773 in Grosseto earlier this month.
Also in the decathlon is Harry Kendall (Tonbridge/David Hull), who as well as being a training partner is regularly a close second to Church, including in the last England championships indoors and outdoors respectively. He will be after that 7750 mark for Birmingham. Harry Maslen (Ilkley; Sam Stanislaus), who took England indoor bronze last winter, has a PB of 7496 and will be a key challenger.
Others in the field who have scored over 7000 points are Elliot Thompson (Enfield & Haringey; Greg Richards), Nicolas Gerome (Basingstoke Mid Hants; Rafer Joseph), Sam Talbot (Sheffield & Dearne; John Lane), Scotland’s Joel McFarlane and Northern Ireland’s Troy McConville. Howard Bell (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies; Colin Sinclair), who was fourth last year, will be looking to get on to the podium this time.
Senior women’s heptathlon
In this event last year, Jade O’Dowda (Newham & Essex Beagles) won with a Commonwealth qualifier and PB of 6044. She is back again and her next target would be the European Athletics Championships qualifying mark of 6250, although winning will present enough of a challenge, such is the line-up.
Leading the challenge is Caroline Agnou of Switzerland, who won the European junior title in 2015 and the European under-23 title two years later and has a PB of 6330. However, with a best of 6041 last year, it could be close. Ellen Barber (Yeovil; David Feeney) and Jodie Smith (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow; Laura Turner-Alleyne) return having finished second and third last year in a high-standard competition. It was there that both set their PBs, which were Commonwealth qualifiers – 6028 and 5881. Also in the hunt for national medals are Natasha Smith (Birchfield; David Feeney), who improved to 5645 in the US last month, and Jo Rowland (Crawley), who won England pentathlon silver indoors this year.
Dutch twins Anne and Myke van de Wiel will also be ensuring quality competition. Myke scored 6012 last year, while Anne has a PB of 5756. Ireland’s Anna McCauley, who was the England Championships indoor winner this year, is another contender in form with her PB of 5540 last month. France’s Celia Perron, who scored 5725 last year and Klara Rådbo, who has scored 5604, are others to watch out for.
U20 men’s decathlon
Favourite Murray Fotheringham of Scotland will be looking to bounce back from last year’s championships, from which he departed prematurely due to no-heighting in the high jump. Since then he has gone to second on the UK all-time rankings for his age group when winning in the England indoor heptathlon this year. The target for him could be the World Athletics U20 Championships qualifier of 7300. England Schools champion Stephen Simmons (Bedford & County; Dan Hatton) scored 6710 last year and will be one to watch. Scotland’s Adam Hoole, second last year and with a PB 6401, is back again.
U20 women’s heptathlon
Abigail Pawlett (Trafford; Ashley Bryant) will be seeking a defence of her title and will have an eye on the championship best of 5722 belonging to Holly Mills.bShe already has the standard for the World Juniors (5400) thanks to her score of 5535 from earlier this month.
Also there will be Eloise Hind (Oxford City, Marcia Marriott), who won the England under-17 title last year with 5347 to rank second on the UK all-time list. Maddison Hutton (Epsom & Ewell; John Shepherd) is a medal challenger if she has recovered from her 5295 two weeks ago. Lucy Fellows (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow), who won under-17 silver last summer, will be worth watching too.
A separate competition using under-18 implements is being put on to allow a chance for athletes to gain qualifiers for the European Athletics U18 Championships in Israel. Relatively small fields will contest these
U18 men’s decathlon
In the case of the men, the mark in focus is 6900.
Ryan Wells (Wycombe), who won under-17 silver last year, is looking to make the step up. Ireland’s Finn O’Neill is the top-ranked entry with his 5994 with the under-17 implements from last year. Jay Cook (Bury; Matt Cook) could also be a threat.
U18 women’s heptathlon
The under-18s opting to chase the European mark will have the figures of 5200 in their minds.
Seren Rodgers (Taunton; Steve Shaw) and Chisom Nwafor (Chilton; Alan Hewson) have already made their mark this year with scores of 4900 and 4718 respectively. Nwafor won England under-17 bronze last year. Neve Davenport (Trafford; Andrew Wood), who was fifth in the under-17 competition last year, and Grace Colmer (Winchester; Andrew Wood), who outscored her last year, also hope to be in amongst it.
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- Click for timetable (PDF 400kB)
- Click for downloadable programme (PDF 4.5MB)
- Click for Saturday Live Stream | Click for Sunday Live Stream
- Click to buy tickets online
- Click to get coach accreditation (free ticket) online NOTE: accreditation must be applied for by 5pm on Friday.
Results will be available on the Roster Athletics app and we will have regular updates on Twitter, plus end-of-day reports on our website.