England emerged as winners at the third Manchester International on a damp, blustery night in SportCity that nonetheless delivered a fantastic night of athletics.
Jessica Judd (Club: Blackburn / Loughborough Students, Coach: Mick Judd) set the tone for the English team in the 1500m, one of the early track races of the evening, by making a break from the start and never looking back. Judd, winner of the English title on the same track a few weeks ago, had Scotland’s Commonwealth Youth champion Erin Wallace (Coach: Dudley Walker, Club: Giffnock North) hot on her tail, with Wales’ Beth Kidger (Coach: Joel Kidger, Club: Brighton Phoenix) a further ten yards back. But there was no response when Judd surged with two laps to run; from there her lead only grew as she recorded an impressive 4:11.96 win.
“I felt good, so I thought I’d go for it,” said Judd. “I had to hold on, because we’ve driven all the way up from Essex!” Kidger ran strongly through the second half to grab second, while Northern Ireland’s Rachel Gibson came through for third after Wallace dropped out after the bell.
The men’s 1500m was much closer, coming down to a sprint finish. Scotland’s Sol Sweeney (Coach: Andy Young, Club: Perth Strathtay /Glasgow Uni) showed the best finishing speed and strength to win in 3:45.88, as James Gormley (Coach: John Wood, Club: Sheffield & Dearne / Birmingham Uni) came through for second.
In the short sprints, World U20 bronze medallist Kristal Awuah (Coach: Matthew Thomas, Club: Herne Hill) was outstanding as she won the women’s 100m. Getting up quickly, she established a sizeable lead early and there was clear daylight on the line as she won in 11.37 (+3.2) to claim maximum points for the GB Juniors - who were closest to England in the scoring tables throughout. There was a blanket finish behind her; English champion Kimbely Baptiste (Coach: Kimbely Baptiste, Club: Crawley / East London Uni) edging it for second with 11.63, and Scotland's Katie Wyper (Coach: Donald Moss, Club: Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde / Edge Hill Uni / Wigan & Dist) a nose behind in third (11.66).
The men’s 100m was won by Tommy Ramdhan (Coach: Ryan Freckleton, Club: Bexley / Oaklands College), who showed great composure through the second half of the race. England’s Andrew Robertston (Club: Sale Harriers Manchester) had started sharply, but the British Athletics League team representative Ramdhan was cool in the closing yards to pull clear and win by a stride in 10.22 (+3.4). Robertson maintained good form for second, while Kaie Chambers-Brown (Coach: Sharon Morris, Club: Birchfield Harriers) dipped well to claim third.
Kimbely Baptiste returned for the 200m with intent. She was the quickest starter and couldn’t be caught as she flew off the bend to win in 23.39, a season’s best clocking were it not for the 3.3m/s tail wind. “It was good to get out and run the bend hard, but I was clawing for the line at the end!” she said post-race. Katy Wyper dipped for second place for Scotland in 23.87, ahead of Denmark's Mathilde Kramer’s 23.94.
England also claimed maximum points in the men’s half-lapper, as Edmond Amaning (Club: Thames Valley) displayed good closing speed to win in 21.08 (+3.3). Elliot Powell (Coach: James Hillier, Club: Leicester / Loughborough Students / Birchfield Harriers) just held off James Williams (Coach: Paul Waters, Club: Liverpool Harriers / Liverpool John Moores Uni) to take second place.
There was an impressive display in the field from British U20 hammer record holder Jake Norris (Coach: Paul Dickenson, Club: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow / Louisiana State Uni). Throwing with the junior implement, he went out to 74.02m in the early rounds to announce his intent, improving to 78.91 in the final round to win for the GB Juniors. Second place was Welshman Jac Palmer (Coach: Adrian Palmer, Club: Cardiff / Cardiff Met Uni) with 65.83, while Craig Murch (Coach: Lorraine Shaw, Club: Rugby & Northampton/Civil Service / Gloucester) was third for England with 65.72. Maximum points in the women’s contest were claimed by BAL’s Pippa Wingate (Club: Kingston & Poly / St. Mary's Uni / Thames Valley), who found 58.78 to edge out GB Junior Katie Head (Coach: Paul Head, Club: Newham & Essex Beagles), who threw 57.45 with the junior implement.
Katie Ingle (Coach: Margaret Riley, Club: Royal Sutton Coldfield) took on the running in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. She pushed hard despite the challenging conditions, establishing a gap to run alone. Despite being isolated there was no catching Ingle, as she won in 10:08.16 to gain maximum points for England. Second place went to Lauren Stoddart of the BAL team (Coach: Eric Fisher, Club: Edinburgh AC / Police), while GBJ Alex Barbour (Coach: Shireen Higgins, Club: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow / Loughborough Students) came through for third.
The men’s race saw Northern Ireland’s Adam Kirksmith (Club: Woodford Green Essex Ladies) take on the running. He pushed hard at the front, and although he couldn’t shake England's Chris Perry (Coach: Chris Perry, Coach: Vale Royal / Loughborough Students / Liverpool Harriers), his small lead remained through to the finish as he clocked 8:53.47. Perry kept pace well to finish second in 8:55.19, with Daniel Eckersley (Coach: Geoff Watkin, Club: Kingston & Poly / Isle of Wight) representing BAL in third.
The women’s 800m was a closer affair. It came down to a final straight sprint that saw battle between Mhairi Hendry (Coach: William Parker, Club: Victoria Park City of Glasgow / Strathclyde Uni) and Mari Smith (Coach: Bud Baldaro, Club: Birchfield Harriers / Birmingham Uni), the latter given the nod by 0.01 seconds in a photo finish, her time being given at 2:07.06. A dawdling pace through the first lap of the men’s 800m set up another good finish, this time the win going to Scotland’s Jamie Williamson (Coach: George Gandy, Club: Springburn / LAC Quelle Furth / Loughborough Students), who pulled clear to win in 1:53.4, as Wales' Elliot Slade (Coach: Darrell Maynard, Club: Cardiff / Donore / Villanova) just nipped in for second ahead of England's John Bird (Coach: Rob Denmark, Club: Ipswich / Loughborough Students).
Strong headwinds didn’t prevent an entertaining javelin contest, as England took the honours in the men’s and women’s competitions. On his GB Junior debut, Tom Hewson (Club: Andover) produced a pair of personal bests to lead with 66.20 early on. But in round four, Gavin Johnson (Coach: Piotr Spas, Club: Thames Valley) flew one out to 66.81 to take a lead that wouldn’t be bettered. In the women’s Emma Hamplett (Coach: Michael McNeill, Club: Birchfield Harriers / Loughborough Students), the England, BUCS And Inter-Counties champion, was the only woman over 50m, finding 50.77 to win from Beckah Walton’s 49.23 personal best (Coach: David Turner, Club: Blackheath & Bromley).
The men’s shot put was won by multiple English champion Scott Lincoln (Coach: Paul Wilson, Club: City of York / Shaftesbury Barnet), whose 18.51 was the winning throw by close to a metre over GB Junior Lewis Byng (Coach: Paul Bearman, Club: Stratford-upon-Avon / Rugby & Northampton). On the women’s side, Adele Nicoll (Coach: Ryan Spencer-Jones, Club: Birchfield Harriers / Cardiff Met Uni) found her groove with her final throw, going out to 14.79 to take maximum points for Wales.
In the discus, Iceland’s Olympian Guðni Guðnason opened up with 62.91 to win the men’s contest ahead of Brett Morse of Wales (Coach: Zane Duquemin, Club: Cardiff / Cardiff Met Uni), who found 61.94. The women’s competition was won by Eden Francis (Coach: Glenys Morton, Club: Leicester / Birchfield Harriers) with 55.47 ahead of Scotland’s Kirsty Law.
The pole vaulters had a tricky crosswind to contend with. England’s Harry Coppell (Coach: John Mitchell, Club: Wigan & District / Liverpool John Moores Uni / Liverpool AC) found the best rhythm of the men, winning with a clearance at 5.20. He had three efforts at 5.30 but couldn’t get it right in the testing conditions. Only two others could get over the five-metre mark, as Scott Huggins (Coach: Allan Williams, Club: Blackheath & Bromley / Brunel Uni London) and and Jack Phipps (Coach: Kate Dennison (now Rooney), Club: Birchfield Harriers / Loughborough Students) both cleared 5.00, the former edging it for second with his better record at earlier heights. There was also an English winner on the women’s side, as Sophie Cook (Coach: Ray Webb, Club: Birchfield Harriers / Coventry Uni) cleared 4.10 at the second attempt to prevail over Jade Ive, whose third-time clearance at 4.00 cemented second place.
In the men’s high jump, European U18 champion Dominic Ogbechie (Coach: Marius Guei, Club: Highgate) bashed his head and drew blood, but that didn’t prevent him from winning. His first time clearances up to 2.04 were good enough to see off second place Ryan Webb (Coach: Fuzz Caan, Club: Birchfield Harriers / Birmingham City Uni / Wimborne) for England and third Will Grimsey (Coach: Carol Jackson, Club: Woodford Green Essex Ladies / Loughborough Students) for BAL, who both cleared 2.04 but had failures at earlier heights. Ogbechie’s gash didn’t stop him from emerging to collect his medal – all's well that ends well.
The women’s high jump was just as close, as the top three all cleared a best of 1.73. BAL athlete Pippa Rogan (Coach: Steve Chapman, Club: Thames Valley / Sli Cualann / Bath Uni / Ireland) claimed the points, though; her clean record up to that height meant she finished ahead of GBJ Rebecca Hawkins (Coach: John Bancroft, Club: Bexley / Blackheath & Bromley) and guest Amelia Bateman (Club: Gateshead).
In the long jump contests, there was an Icelandic winner in the women’s match, as Hafdís Sigurðardóttir found 6.24 to claim maximum points ahead of GB Junior Josie Oliarnyk (Coach: Dominic McNeillis, Club: Halesowen) in second and Lucy Hadaway (Coach: Matt Barton, Club: City of York) in third for England. Outside of the scoring, guest jumper Abigail Irozuru (Coach: Tom Cullen, Club: Sale Harriers Manchester) went out to 6.32 with her fourth round effort.
On the men’s side, Reynold Banigo (Coach: Lukasz Zawila, Club: Sale Harriers Manchester / Loughborough Students) took an early lead with 7.60m, improving to 7.76 in round four, a mark healthy enough for a comfortable win for England. Jack Roach (Coach: Jack Roach, Club: Newham & Essex Beagles / Northumbria Uni) was second with 7.54 for BAL, while Shandell Taylor's (Coach: Trevor Wells, Club: Havering) 7.40 was enough for a GBJ third.
Julian Reid's (Coach: Aston Moore, Club: Sale Harriers Manchester) excellent series – all marks beyond 15m – in the triple jump was topped with 15.64 to win. The maximum match points were collected for England by Jonathan Ilori (Coach: John Shepherd, Club: Blackheath & Bromley), whose 15.49 was 50cm better than third place Osaze Aghedo (Coach: Steve Ingram, Club: Swansea / Brunel Uni London) of the GB Juniors team. England’s Sineade Gutzmore (Coach: Aston Moore, Club: Birchfield Harriers)won on the women’s side courtesy of her best of 12.85.
In the night’s first track event, Efekemo Okoro (Coach: Tony Hadley, Club: Birchfield Harriers / Brunel Uni) got off to a rapid start, but the back straight wind took a toll as he faded through the bend. Chris McAlister (Coach: Marina Armstrong, Club: Thames Valley / Birmingham Uni) emerged with a lead through the bend and, despite pressure from Scot Jack Lawrie (Club: Woodford Green Essex Ladies / Pitreavie), held for a BAL win in a personal best of 49.23. “I might extend my season a little longer after that!” said McAlister, clearly pleased with his PB.
In the women’s race, it looked like Jessica Turner (Coach: Nick Dakin, Club: Amber Valley & Erewash / Loughborough Students) had timed her burst off the bend to perfection. However Canada’s Kelsey Bockwill found an extra gear at the close to overtake her in the race for the line, winning in 58.29.
The women’s flat one-lapper saw Great Britain’s European 4x400m silver medallist Phillipa Lowe (Club: Dacorum & Tring / Hertfordshire Uni / Shaftesbury Barnet) show her class. She ran smartly off the second bend to build a lead she wouldn’t give up through the straight, winning in 53.65 for full points for England.
There was a tight finish in the men’s 400m, as Alex Haydock-Wilson (Coach: Earl Herbert, Club: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) timed his burst through the home straight to perfection to win ahead of New Zealand’s Cameron Finch. Finch had started strongly but lost ground through the second bend, and couldn’t find an answer as Haydock-Wilson took maximum points in 47.30 for England.
In the short hurdles, for which the wind dropped to a legal level, Alicia Barrett (Coach: Toni Minichiello, Club: Chesterfield / Sheffield Hallam Uni) won the 100mH race in 13.28 after snapping through the second half of the race. The match points went to the BAL team, as Danielle McGifford (Coach: Sharon-Louise Walls, Club: Wigan & District) also closed strongly to clock a lifetime best 13.51 following the false start DQ of England's Jess Hunter. There were only two entrants in the men’s 110m hurdles, with James Weaver (Coach: Laura Turner-Alleyne, Club: Enfield & Haringey / Oaklands College) winning the England - BAL head-to-head in 14.35 ahead of Jack Major (Coach: John Baron, Club: Southampton / Leeds Beckett Uni).
In a combined 3000m race walk field of 26 starters, there was a meeting record for Kate Veale, of West Waterford. The Irishwoman looked strong from the gun, shadowing the men before powering to finish in 12:49.11. Second was England’s Erika Kelly (Coach: Steve Partington, Club: Northern AC (Isle of Man)), while Ana Garcia (Coach: Mark Wall, Club: Sheffield & Dearne), representing the BAL team, finished in third.
The men’s race saw England’s Cameron Corbishley (Coach: Andi Drake, Club: Medway & Maidstone) take the lead from the start, holding it well in the blustery conditions to win in 11:55.12 Wales’ Guy Thomas (Coach: Martin Rush, Club: Tonbridge) came home just behind for second, with third going to Chris Snook (Coach: Verity Snook, Club: Aldershot, Farnham & District), representing the GB Juniors.
Three of the four relay races were won by England teams, ensuring they wouldn’t be caught on points as the night came to a close. The exception came in the men’s 4x100m, where Wales broke the tape ahead of England.
The night also saw the staging of the English track 10,000m championships. When it ran, the rain was particularly testing. Ian Kimpton (Coach: Tony Simmons, Club: Luton), Ollie Lockley (Coach: Ollie Lockley, Club: Manx / Aldershot, Farnham & District) and Nigel Martin (Coach: Norman Poole, Club: Sale Harriers Manchester) made the early running, lined out closely in that order. Martin couldn’t keep pace with the leading two, as Lockley stepped on the gas through the final lap to win in 29:54.55. Kimpton came through for second (in 29:59.99) while Martin maintained third place through to the line.
In the women’s race, Ella Revitt (Coach: Ella Revitt, Club: Edinburgh AC / Edinburgh Uni Hare & Hounds / LC Therwil) made a fine debut to her track 10k career. She built a lead over Sophie Cowper (Coach: Gary Warhurst, Club: Rotherham / Notts) after the early stages, and continued to run well despite being alone in the damp night. She crossed the line with the clock at 35:32.54 to claim the gold, as Cowper got the silver in 35:51.15.
Earlier, in the guest 100m races, which benefited from the strong tail wind, Sam Gordon (Coach: Matt Elias, Club: Cardiff / Cardiff Met Uni) was an impressive heat winner in 10.14 (+3.6), while Kristian Jones (Coach: Glyn Hawkes, Club: Cardiff / Loughborough Students) and Dylan DaCosta (Coach: Paul Weston, Club: Croydon) took the other windy races in 10.40 and 10.66 respectively. The first women’s 100m was won by Hannah Kelly (Coach: Les Hall, Club: Bolton / Trafford) in 11.78 (+3.0) after a terrific start; the second saw Cassie-Ann Pemberton (Coach: Sharon Morris, Club: Birchfield Harriers) cross first in 11.87 (+4.1).
As part of the night England Athletics signed the ‘Time to Change’ pledge, committing the organization to battling the stigma of mental illness. By signing the Time to Change pledge, England Athletics is committing to change the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace. England Athletics is committed to developing a culture that supports and empowers its employees to talk about Mental Health. Included in the pledge is a commitment to train all Managers and Mental Health Champions to support our employees to look after their mental wellbeing and challenge the attitudes and negative behaviours around Mental Health.
Also on the programme was a showdown between teams led by Manchester’s former world champion boxer Anthony Crolla and a specially assembled rugby team with the purpose of raising awareness of mental health in a Time To Change Challenge. Crolla was joined by Hyde’s Stacey Copeland, who last month became Britain’s first ever female Commonwealth boxing champion when she took the Super Welterweight title in Zimbabwe and Macclesfield’s Super Middleweight Jake Haigh, who boasts an unbeaten record in his two years as a professional, and Melissa Anglesea of Suzi Wong Creations, Team Crolla’s all-important kit designer.
Irish International Luke Ambler, who himself founded Andy’s Man Club, an organisation committed to suicide prevention headed up team Ambler representing Rugby League joined by Tara Jones, St Helens’ women’s captain and the first female match official in Superleague history, as well as Damian Clayton, the long-standing former captain of the RAF’s rugby league team. And Tom Brady who has starred for both Sale and Leicester Tigers headed the teams representing Rugy Union.
The celebrity teams went go head to head over 100m, long jump, shot put and the 4x100m relay.
GB Juniors: 99
Northern Ireland and Ulster: 43
Photos by Steve M Smith
Long jump photo courtesy of Vinco