Celebrating the high life at the Age Group Indoor Championships
Two British and one World Best marked a truly memorable day in Sheffield. Sprinting usually takes centre stage on day one of the national champs, but on this occasion it was the high jump that towered about everything else! And that’s not including the 300m and shot put National Bests, almost secondary such was the magnitude of one amazing clearance.
Imperious is the only way to describe Dominic Ogbechie (Highgate, Marcus Guei) in the U17 boys' high jump. He opened his account with a 1.95 clearance that looked all the world like he could break the championship best of 2.13 if he felt like it, such was the gap between him and the bar. And so it proved with similar soaring efforts at 2.00, 2.06 and 2.11 before he glided over 2.14 to break the 29-year-old mark of 2.13 that stood to Brendan Reilly.
For those who enjoy such stats that clearance meant Dominic became the youngest Briton to ever clear 7ft indoors or out, but that was merely the start of what was a stunning 15 minutes. He added 4cm to that height and whipped over 2.18 first time of asking. Talk turned to the European record for a 15-year-old that stood at 2.20, but Dominic had his eyes on something rather more lofty - 2.22, and the World Age Best. And over he went, simple and smooth as that. “Wow! Oh wow, oh wow,” is all Reilly could say. He did look a bit tired as he tried for 2.25, but watch out tomorrow in the long jump there may be more to report.
As ever at this championships, Britain’s best sprinters were keen to test their winter form, meaning that making the final really is a noteworthy performance, not just nationally but more often than not, globally.
For many, the race of the day was the U20 women’s 60m for just that reason. It featured a loaded field that included Ireland’s Ciara Neville who will be running in Birmingham next week at the World Indoor Champs thanks to her 7.30 speed. She took the title in 7.41 but had to work super hard from Irish teammate Molly Scott, 7.45, who had looked like she would be in the running through the rounds. On another day Kristal Awuah, 7.48, (Herne Hill Harriers, Mathew Thomas) would have started favourite, but this was a loaded field, fully earning the title national championships. Spare a thought for Amy Hunt (Charnwood, Joe McDonnell) who clocked 7.52 in fourth out on her own in lane eight following the disqualification of lane seven.
The U20 men’s 60m final was more of a formality, although no less impressive as Dominic Ashwell (Shaftesbury Barnet, Marvin Rowe) powered away to a very quick 6.70 - after some great running in the semis suggested he may go even faster.
Trinity Powell (Manchester Harriers, Kes Salmon) smoothly progressed through all the rounds of the U17 women's 60m with plenty in the tank and certainly looks a great prospect for the future. Super consistent, as the field went to the blocks experts debated whether she’d run 7.62 or 7.61 - it was the slower mark on this occasion, a time she’s run four times, so clearly she’s an athlete who can cope wth the pressure a national champs can create.
The men's U17 was slightly more open with a blanket barely covering the first three. The UK ranked number 1 for 2018 Rapheal Bouju (Bedford and County, Allen Adamson) leaned for a 6.98 (compared to his best of 6.91). Just .04sec adrift was Harry Handsaker (Burton, Paul Smith) in 7.02.
The clear winner of the U15 boys' 60m was Remi Jokosenumi (Shaftesbury, Ty Holden), who clocked 7.22; out of his blocks first, he never looked like being headed and even stretched the lead in the final 20m. More in the tank? Definitely.
Tyra Khambai-Annan (Team Hounslow, Jonathan Barber) took the U15 girls' title in 7.82. Trezegeut Taylor (Trafford, Andrew Wood), the northern champion, was third on this occasion in 7.91, ahead of Alyson Bell (Giffnock North, Christine Donaghy), 7.89, but at 12 Taylor has youth on her side, even in this age group!
As impressive as the 60 metre sprinting was, (Walton, Andrew Kennard) may beg to differ when it comes to the best performance of the day as his emphatic win in the U15 boys' 300m, which was not only a championship best performance - well inside the previous mark of 36.56 - it was also a UK Age Best indoors of 36.35, winning him not only the gold, but also a £100 voucher from Neuff Athletic Equipment. Great job!
Often, there’s talk about dwindling numbers in our sport, usually when it comes to field events - well we can report that’s not the case at this well-attended championships, especially in the women’s U20 and U17 long jump - fields not only packed with talent but also big numbers. And without any doubt, the women’s U20 competition could lay claim to be the best field event with no less than six GB internationals competing for the title.
Any other year Holly Mills (Andover, James Coney) might have thought her opening 6.09 would suffice, but the European Junior champion knew that kind of distance was no guarantee in this kind of field. It took until the fourth round to really get things going when Eleanor Broome (Rugby and Northampton, Ian Roberts) produced a huge 6.15. Game on. Mills, ever the competitor, replied with a 6.15 of her own to take the lead on count-back. Then Lucy Hadaway (City of York, Matt Barton) came close with 6.13 in the final round before Broome moved out to 6.17 to take the lead only for Mills to respond with 6.23. What a competition!
Likewise to win the U17s, it would take not only a test of speed, but also stamina such was the protracted wait between rounds. And it was Molly Palmer (Charnwood Joseph McDonnell / Nigel Kesteven) who proved best at this, improving her PB by 15cm to win in 5.91 from the pre-event favourite Oreoluwa Adamson (Herne Hill Harriers, Les Johnston).
The U15 girls' competition was all about Ella Rush (Amber Valley and Erewash, Martin Bishell/Joe McColgan) who stretched out to a UK leading 5.50 in the second round, a nice improvement on her previous 5.42.
The business end of the U20 women’s pole vault was all about whether Molly Caudery (Cornwall, Stuart Caudery) could soar over 4.20, a height she comfortably beat last week thanks to her 4.25 in Birmingham. A competitively close miss on her first attempt, followed by an equally narrow failure second time around suggested she could, indeed should - and that’s exactly what occurred as she flew over with a good 10cm to spare. Given her mind understandably would have been Sunday’s senior international in Glasgow, she could have been excused at calling it a day there, but she signalled the bar to be raised to 4.40. On this occasion that was beyond her, but looking at how clear the UCLA-bound vaulter was at the previous height, it’s on its way.
To win the men's U20 triple jump it would all about rediscovering 15-metre form, something plenty of the field had achieved. Do that and gold would be heading your way. Jude Bright-Davies (Thames Valley, David Johnson) declared intentions from the off with a 14.98 round opener, jumping off the 13m board. He, however, passed every other round, watching as the field peppered the 14.50 mark and beyond jump after jump. Keen to make sure the TVH athlete wouldn’t have it all his own way, Teepee Princewell (Windsor Slough and Eton, Danny Sawyers) did stretch out to 14.78, off the 11m board before finally reaching 14.85 in round six. Such was the terrific depth of this event that going into that last round, 15.32 man Wesley Matsuka-Williams (Norwich, Dennis Costello) had found himself sixth with a 14.54 although an earlier foul had suggested he could steal it if he could just get it right. And that’s exactly what happened as the Norwich man rediscovered his form to fly out to 15.24 and the gold, his first triple jump competition since placing fourth in this event last year.
Earlier in the day, pre-event form suggested the U17 men’s triple jump would be a contest between the two Scottish-based entrants and so it proved with Miraj Ahmed (Glasgow School of Sport, David Watson) taking the title with a fourth round 14.06m. Bera Ajala (Edinburgh, Keith Ridely) made sure Ahmed had to be on his top form as Ajala peppered the 13m mark on more than one occasion, soaring out to 13.61 in the final round. Ahmed may have gone out to 14.39 earlier this season, but in the cool, first event conditions of the EIS, this leap was a strong showing for the 2016 England Athletics U15 champion.
Rounding out the day was Serena Vincent (City of Portsmouth, Andrew Vincent/Bronwen Carter) who won the U17 girls' shot put with a championships best performance and, you guessed it, British Age Best of 16.59, a whopping 1.08 further than the previous mark, after breaking it with a 16.39 effort in an earlier round. She ended the evening with a 16.56; It was that kind of day!
Click on links below:
Photos of Miolly and George by David Griffiths, www.fotoccompli.com
Photos of Dominic by Morris Fox