Brown turns to gold in the pentathlon - Day 1: England Athletics Senior and U20 Indoor Combined Events, Para and Walks Championships

For England’s best combined eventers, the first week of January is always a significant one. It’s officially time to check how the winter training has gone in the best possible way; by competing in the England Athletics Senior and U20 Indoor Combined Events. 

And of course, being an Olympic year there’s a little bit more edge to things, whatever level you’re competing at. This event also has the lure of a place at the World Combined Events Tour silver label meeting in Tallinn next month.

The first three eligible English athletes who have attained the “consideration standards” of 5300 points (men) and 4000 points (women) since the start of 2023 will be considered for selection. Other athletes could also receive a discretionary place from the selection panel subject to a maximum team size of three men and three women.

And it took barely seven seconds to demonstrate to the encouragingly large crowd that was incentive enough! The men’s races saw a sub-seven-second clocking, while a series of sharp 60m sprints in the U20 age group resulted in three PBs by each heat winner making for a perfect start to the two days of action. Here’s how it all unfolded:

U20 women’s pentathlon

Easily the pre-Champs favourite given her impressive 2023 season, Thea Brown (Coach: Joanne Harding, Club: Sale Harriers Manchester) flew to an eye-opening 8.49 in the 60 hurdles, a personal best and a run that saw her more than half a second quicker than her nearest rivals. Two failures in the high jump at 1.75 didn’t stop her and she sailed over an indoor PB at the third attempt before raising the bar to 1.81, a height she cleared also at the third time of asking. There’s always non-stop action in this one-day event and with barely a moment to draw breath she was on to the shot next. There, Brown on paper was a little below par, finishing with 9.28 while her rivals went a few metres further. However, on the plus side that was a PB suggesting there’s much more to come! Nevertheless, that meant the field did close in behind her, although going into the long jump she held a lead of more than 300 points. Then, a 5.81 second round jump saw the Sale Harrier stretch that lead even further and she all but secured the gold medal with a huge 6.04 final round effort, which equalled her indoor PB. Brown capped with the day with 2:33.99 which saw her finish just shy of the 4000-point barrier with 3998, no mean feat for an U18 athlete.

“It all went perfectly today; actually better than what I hoped,” said Brown afterwards. “I got PBs in three events and I know there’s more to come, particularly in the shot and of course the 800m,” she laughed, adding that she was a little tired by the final event.

“Now I’m looking to the long jump, high jump and hurdles at the individual champs next month and hopefully the European outdoors beyond that.”

Men’s Heptathlon

Sam Talbot (John Lane, Sheffield and Dearne) was sharpest out of the blocks in the 60m, stopping the clock at 6.94 just 0.05sec short of his spectacular opener of 6.89 last year. The multiple UK record holder (U18 decathlon and U18 long jump) was clearly in shape and in the mood to defend his 2023 title where he put together a magnificent total of 5823pts.

He followed that with 7.10 in the long jump although Harry Kendall (David Hull, Tonbridge) did close fractionally thanks to his 7.12. Talbot kept the pressure on with his final throw of 13.89 in the shot, while sneaking up almost unnoticed was Lewis Church (David Hull, Tonbridge) who was easily the best on show thanks to his massive PB of 14.78 in the third and final round.

The high jump provided a fascinating conclusion to what was an exciting day as Talbot came in very early at 1.84 before departing at 1.87 opening the door for athletes like the fast closing Church who sailed over 1.99 at the second time of asking after looking a little shaky on his first attempt. So, heading to day two it’s very tight at the top with Talbot in pole position just 37 points ahead of Kendall with the 60 hurdles, pole vault and 1000m to go.

U20 men’s heptathlon

It took a couple of events to see a trend emerging but after the 60 and long jump it looked to be a three-way battle between Welshman Lolo Grant (Mike Guest, Cardiff Archers), Samuel Wright (Simon Hemmings, Chelmsford) and William Reid (Sam Stanislaus, City of York), just 25 points separating the top three. Grant clocked a leading 7.03 in the 60, while Reid closed it all up thanks to his event leading 6.87 in the long jump.

However, the shot put can often prove pivotal in this competition with Jay Cook (Bury) firing it out to 13.41 from Reef Page’s (Tonbridge) 12.73. That meant it closed up at the sharp end to such an extent that Reid moved to the pole position thanks to his 12.10 throw, while Grant and Wright slipped back into third and fourth. Conrad Winter (City of Norwich) now found himself in silver as a result of his 7.37, 6.75 and 12.64. For Reid and Winter it was very much a case of déjà vu as they occupied the same positions going into day two last year.

The final event of the day was the pole vault which always has capability of reshaping the event standings completely. Which is precisely what occurred. In a long competition that took more than two hours, Wright had to be content with 2.90 while ahead of him, Winter cleared 4.00 and Reid scaled 3.80 at the first time of asking.

That meant that heading into day two Winter held a marginal 40-point lead over Reid with the high jump, 60 hurdles and 1000m left to contest.

Para Champs

The stand-out performance in the Para Champs came in the men’s 60 when T38 Tom Young (Joseph McDonnell, Loughborough) powered to 7.28 for a clear victory, easing back in the final two or three strides.

Understandably pleased with how things unfolded, the reigning Paralympic 100m champion is in great form and didn’t hold back with his predictions for 2024. In a post-race interview with England Athletics for Instagram he said he’s targeting gold in Paris and to set a world record. Bold words, but he looks more than capable given this run was comfortably faster than anything he achieved last season indoors.

The Para Champs had proved very competitive right from the very first event when F38 Madeleine Down (Mike Bennett, Halesowen) jumped a solid 4.57 in the second round of the long jump, which compared favourably to her outdoors lifetime best of 4.70. The Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist took the victory using the Raza points calculations but F46 Rebecca Scott (Paddy O’Shea, Stevenage and North Herts) was also impressive with her opening 4.73.

Britain’s No.1 in the shot, F20 Fabio Zamparelli (Greg Beard, Cornwall) was a clear winner with 12.92 in the fourth round, an early season’s best but equally a throw that suggested there’s much more to come.


Winner of this race in 2019, Cameron Corbishley (Andi Drake, Medway and Maidstone) was untroubled in the men’s 3km walk, stringing together three four-minute kilometres for a smooth looking 12:07.51 to win by more than a lap.

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