Athletes rise to the occasion at Hustopeče High Jump event

The sixth year of joint support for this event by England Athletics Competitions Department and the England Coach and Athlete Development Programme again proved a worthwhile investment.
An England Athletics team of nine athletes and five coaches plus a physiotherapist travelled out to Hustopeče in the Czech Republic. It was a successful evening with the team of mainly U20 and U23 high jumpers producing performances that included podium places, personal and seasonal best jumps in the 20th anniversary International High Jump Gala.

16 year old Junior athlete Dominic Ogbechie (Coach: Marcus Guei/ John Herbert, Club: Highgate Harriers) chose to compete in the men’s B event, securing an excellent 3rd place with a solid clearance at 2.14m before coming agonisingly close to 2.18m. In the same competition U23 jumpers Akin Coward (Coach: Carol Jackson, Club: Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) finished 8th with 2.05m and Ryan Webb (Coach: Fuzz Caan, Club: Birchfield Harriers) 13th with 2.00m.

In the Men’s Elite event, England had two representatives. Chris Baker (Coach: Gareth Walton/ Graham Ravenscroft, Club: Sale Harriers Manchester/ Loughborough Students) took an impressive second place against a very high-class field with clearance of 2.26m behind Yu Wang from China who won with 2.30m. 2017 European Junior Bronze Medallist Tom Gale (Coach: Denis Doyle, Club: Team Bath) easily cleared an indoor PB of 2.23m before unfortunately having to retire with a bad calf cramp.

England sent three competitors for the women’s events.

In the women’s B event, 2018 European Junior Finalist Abby Ward (Coach: Ian Hill, Club: Wakefield) gained her first win in Hustopece, with a season’s best mark of 1.81m. Emily Borthwick (Coach: Fuzz Caan, Club: Wigan & District) recorded her season’s best of 1.72m in 4th position. In the women’s Junior competition Amelia Bateman (Coach: Denis Doyle, Club: Gateshead) celebrated her England debut by clinching second place on the podium with an indoor PB of 1.72m.

There was also UK interest in an exciting and very high quality elite women’s competition where Morgan Lake (Coach: Fuzz Caan, Club: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) equalled her personal best of 1.97m to take third place behind the Ukrainian pair of Kateryna Tabashnyk and seventeen year old Yaroslava Mahuchikh who both cleared 1.99m.

A number of other English athletes travelled to the event independently.

Sam Brereton (Coach: Clive Marsh, Club: Newquay & Par) won the U17 Boys' event, flying over the bar with an excellent 2.09m clearance to take his first international gold medal with Harrison Thorne (Coach: Carol Jackson, Club: Blackheath & Bromley) in 3rd place on the podium with 2.00m. In the Junior Men’s competition Toni Ademuwagun (Coach: Carol Jackson, Club: Thames Valley) also took bronze with 2.00m as did Natasha Smith (Kerry Eddie-Jury) in the Junior women’s competition with 1.72m. All four athletes set season’s bests.

Following the competition all the team attended the post event reception with the elite competitors where the youngsters were able to socialise with their rivals and coaches were able to relax and mull over the day with their UK and foreign colleagues. The day proved an atmospheric and inspiring occasion, particularly for the younger athletes who all rose the occasion.