Age group titles on the line in Bedford
The England Athletics Under 17 and Under 15 Championships – including our Disability Athletics Age Group championships – take place at Bedford this weekend, Saturday and Sunday (25-26 August). There are well over 1,000 entries for our final championships of the summer, promising another busy and entertaining two days of competition.
A rematch between Raphael Bouju (Bedford & County, Allen Adamson) and Destiny Ogali (Dacorum & Tring AC, Gavin Town) could provide the highlight in men's sprints. Bouju defeated Ogali to win the English Schools title in July, clocking 10.61 – a mark none of this weekend’s entrants have bettered. Nonetheless, a total of eight have recorded wind-legal sub-11 times this year, so should either falter there will be no shortage of suitors to the title.
The sprint hurdles should also deliver tight racing Jordan Ricketts (Birchfield H, Anthony Pitt) and Joseph Harding (Basildon, Stephen Peaty) likely to make the running. While Ricketts' 12.83 makes him the fastest of the entrants, Harding beat him at English Schools and has a windy PB of 12.85.
Over the full lap of barriers, Oscar Heaney-Brufal (Blackheath & Bromley, Roy Dickens) recorded a PB of 54.11 in May. At English Schools he held off the PB performances of Freddie Reilly (Stevenage & North Herts, Norma Harris) and Adam Rowlands (Harrow) to top the podium.
There should be competitive racing between Kane Elliott (Falkirk, William Sharp) and Max Burgin (Halifax, Brian Burgin) in the 1500m. They have run personal bests within a second of each other (3:46.84 and 3:47.70, respectively) to lead those entered. In the 3000m, the 8:15.02 personal best of Mohamed Ali (Ealing Southall & Middx, Steve Mann) means he enters as the fastest on paper.
In the field, Highgate Harrier Dominic Ogbechie (Marius Guei/Carol Jackson) is set to compete in both the high jump and long jump. He is the European U18 champion in the former event, for which he leads the entrants with clearances at 2.22 indoors and 2.16 outdoors this year. In long jump, his indoor 7.53 also ranks him first. Theo Adesina (Thurrock, Karl Sumun) is the only other entrant over 7m, although Scott Brindley (North Ayrshire, Mark Stringer) has broken that barrier in windy conditions.
Brindley is also entered for the pole vault, ranked second of the entrants with 4.52. Jacob Clarke (Notts, Maxine Robbins) leads that event with 4.70. Five further entrants have cleared 4.30 or better this season, so a good competition is in store. It is also one of the events that U17 English decathlon champion Pedro Gleadall (Blackheath and Bromley) will contest, along with high jump and javelin.
The hammer will likely prove the most competitive of the throws battles in what could be a replay of the English Schools final. There, Sam Gaskell (Blackburn, Michael Hitchon) led the eye-catching contest, winning with 68.75; just 44cm back was Kenneth Ikeji (Basildon, Paul Head), who himself was just 26cm in front of Shaun Kerry (Kingston upon Hull, Dave Smith).
With seven entrants clearing 1.70 or better this season, the high jump could be incredibly competitive. Molly Hole (City of Salisbury, Marcus Hole) followed up her indoor 1.79 with 1.75 outdoors in June; Leonie Brunning (Biggleswade) has matched that outdoor mark, while Mia Chantree (Chelmsford, Steve Mitchell) is just a 1cm behind, and Hannah Moat (Scunthorpe, David Walker) and Carmen Neat (Aberdeen, Ken Allan) a single digit back again.
It's similarly tight at the top of the long jump listings, with Cleo Martin-Evans (Daventry) and Funminiyi Olajide (Thurrock, Geraldine Heapy) both finding 6.07 this year, although the latter's was wind aided.
In the discus, there are four women with personal bests set beyond 40m this year. English Schools champion Samantha Callaway (Southampton Athletic Club, David Callaway) has improved hers to 45.40, suggesting she might just have the edge. Taia Tunstall (Watford Harriers, Amir Williamson) and Hannah MacAulay (Blackheath & Bromley) won silver and bronze at English Schools, while Charlotte Payne’s (Newbury AC, Bob Broadbridge) number three ranking should add to a tight contest.
On the track, with the year's top six performers all entered, the 300m hurdles should produce some great racing. Jasmine Jolly (Preston Harriers, Peter Crook) has had a great year; since finishing 5th at the European U18s, she has won the English Schools title and improved her PB to 42.21. Melissa Coxon (Rotherham Harriers and AC, Veronica Boden) and Poppy Oliver (Crawley AC, Paul McKeown) – English Schools silver and bronze medallists – will add further depth, while second-ranked Mia Chantree (Chelmsford AC, Steve Mitchell) should also be in the mix.
Keely Hodgkinson (Leigh Harriers & AC, Margaret Galvin) comes into the 800m ranked fastest with 2:04.26, although Livingston's Isla Calvert's 2:06.99 suggests she has the potential to challenge. English Schools silver and bronze medallists Ellie Farrow (City of Portsmouth, Vince Stamp) and Stephanie Moss (Sale Harriers Manchester, Trevor Painter) add further depth to a good field.
For sprints, Amy Hunt (Charnwood AC, Joe McDonnell) is the only 100m entrant with a sub-12 second clocking, with 11.63. In the 200m, Kiah Dubarry-Gay (Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC, Alf Vickers) will hope to repeat her success from English Schools. There she blew away to the competition with 23.90, nearly half a second quicker than Kayla Bowley (Croydon, Paul Weston), who was second that day and returns again.
U18, U16, U14 Disability
Esme O'Connell will compete in long jump and 100m in the T20 category. Since winning the World Para-Athletics Junior title last year, the 16-year-old Dacorum & Tring athlete improved her jumps PB to 4.68, while she has continued to impress in short sprints, frequently dipping below the 13.50 mark.
In the T37 category, Abbie McNally (Inverness, Charles Forbes) will also compete in long jump, as well as the 100m and 200m, after a season in which she has made gains across all three events. Another doubling in the T37 sprints is Freya Howgate (Perth Strathtay, James Hunter), who will also compete in discus, shot and javelin – a busy couple of days in store.
Alexander Thomson (Whitemoss AC, Thomas Graham) could also have a busy weekend, as he is entered for the 100m, 200m, discus, javelin and shot in the T20 category. Joining him in the all throws events is Conor O'Hare (Chelmsford AC), competing in T35, having made advances in shot and discus in 2018.
There should be a good duel between Ben Foulston (Charnwood, Joseph McDonnell) and Henry Ackroyd (Bringley Harriers) in the U16 T38 200m and 400m. In the half-lapper, both have produced PBs in recent weeks, with Foulston's 12.61 giving him the rankings edge over Ackroyd’s 13.20. Just 1.22 seconds separates their lifetime best for the full lap, with Foulston’s 58.31 again putting him marginally ahead.
Prince Reid (Blackheath and Bromley) will also compete in the 400m in the T20 category having lowered his PB to 53.85 in June. In the same category, World Para-Athletics Junior champion Karim Chan (Peterborough AC, Femi Akinsanya) will compete in his favoured 100m and long jump events, as well as in the shot, which he has thrown 8.19 this year.
There are good numbers entered for the wheelchair races, particularly on the men’s side. In the T34 category, Nathan Freeman (Worthing & District Harriers) and Thomas Miller (Harlow Athletics Club) will compete across events from 100m to 1500m, having both set personal bests this year. In T54, Pierce Reynolds (Dacorum & Tring AC) and Thomas Miller (Harlow Athletics Club) are also entered for all track races. 18-year-old T33 Yasmin Somers is due to race the 100m and 200m, having lowered her PB to 46.81 in the latter event in 2018.
There will be national titles up for grabs for the U15s, where fresh rivalries will no doubt continue to develop, some on the back of previous championship performances.
Aidan Brindley (North Ayrshire AC, Mark Stringer), Sam Coupland (Southport Waterloo AC, Ron Scott) and Luca Michalowski (Charnwood AC, Colin Barnes) – gold, silver and bronze medal winners respectively at the U15 octathlon at the English Combined Events Championships – are all entered for the pole vault, with the latter duo also set for the sprint hurdles and high jump.
Hexathlon gold and silver medallists Ella Rush (Amber Valley & Erewash AC, Martin Bishell) and Rhiana Burrell (Birchfield Harriers, Pam Rayment) will meet in the high jump, as Rush is also entered for the long jump and 300m, with Burrell also eyeing the shot put.
The England Athletics Under 17 & Under 15 Championships 2018 take place at Bedford International Stadium on Saturday and Sunday 25-16 August.
Coming to support?
Parents, friends and spectators are welcome and tickets can be bought on the day at the spectator entrance, which is situated to the left of the Main Stand. Ticket Prices are Per Day Adult: £5, Concession: £3. Weekend Adult: £8, Concession: £5. Car Parking: £3. Event Programme: £3
The event will also be streamed online by our broadcast partners Vinco.