A group of England and independent athletes travelled to Hustopeče, Czech Republic, this weekend to compete in one of the best Indoor High Jump competitions in Europe.
The long day began at 10am with the U18 and Junior Men’s competition where England were represented by 3 athletes. Charlie Knott (U18, coach: Carol Jackson, club: Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) won our first gold of the meet with a winning jump of 2.00m. The Junior event saw Sam Brereton (Fuzz Caan, Newquay & Par) and Kelechie Agoucha (Fuzz Caan, Blackheath & Bromley) left to battle it out for first place and what a competition it was bringing the whole indoor arena to its feet. Both boys cleared the World Junior qualifying mark of 2.16m and then Kelechi went on to clear 2.20m and then an incredible 2.22m a height which would have ranked him 4th in the World at U20 level in 2019, and ranks him 3rd on the UK Senior rankings as well as increasing his PB by 7cm.
The Women’s B competition swiftly followed. In the U20 section Hannah Moat (David Walker, Notts AC) winning with a Season's best of 1.75m just ahead of second place Carmen Neat (Fuzz Caan, Loughborough Students) with the same height. In the senior section, England took second spot after a very close battle with Emily Borthwick (Fuzz Caan, Wigan & District) clearing 1.78m; Natasha Smith (Kerry Eddie, Birchfield Harriers) cleared 1.65m for 5th place.
In the Men’s B competition it was a very close fight between training partners Nico de Luca (Italy, Fuzz Caan) and Will Grimsey (Fuzz Caan/ Carol Jackson, Woodford Green Essex Ladies/Loughborough Students) with Nico just taking the win with both athletes clearing 2.20m. Akin Coward (Carol Jackson, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) was 5th with 2.14m, just 1cm shy of his personal best. Ryan Webb (Fuzz Caan, Birchfield Harriers) had to withdraw after clearing 1.90m with an ankle injury.
As the day progressed and the atmosphere became louder and more electric . The Women’s A competition was next - with invited elite athletes from all over the world. Beth Partridge (Graham Ravenscroft, Birchfield Harriers) followed on her earlier two PBs with a very creditable 1.87m for 6th place, Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake, WSEH/Loughborough Students) jumped 1.90m for 3rd place but the competition winner, with a new Scottish Record of 1.93m, was Nikki Manson (Ray Bobrownicki, Giffnock North).
And then almost 12 hours after the event had started the roof was lifted as Tom Gale (Denis Doyle, Team Bath) jumped a PB, Olympic Qualifying mark and World Leading jump of 2.33m in the Men’s A competition. Such was the standard that Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft, Sale Harriers Manchester) jumped a season’s best of 2.20m to only finish in 10th place.
This will be a weekend athletes and coaches will all remember for a long time to come with 12 podium places, 2 World Junior marks, an Olympic qualifying mark and a World leading jump. But to top everything off we were all privileged to meet the greatest High Jumper the world has ever seen World Record Holder Javier Sotomayor (Cuba, 2.45m) who was there to watch all the competitions.
England's athletes were ably supported by coaches Graham Ravenscroft, Simon Hemmings, David Walker, Carol Jackson and Physiotherapist Lucy Eggleton.