Championship Bests fall and thrilling finales at Bedford

This weekend saw new marks set in both the Senior and Under 20 Women's Heptathlon championships as the Combined Events action continued at Bedford. The men's events also saw tremendous competitions including an absolutely thrilling finale to the Under 20 men's event.

In the women’s heptathlon Chari Hawkins, a British based US international claimed the senior title while Jade O'Dowda erased the nine-year-old mark of Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the Under 20 event.

Welsh international Ben Gregory produced a superb second day to claim the senior men's title while the finale to the Under 20 men's event as a true thriller.

Senior Women Heptathlon

In the women’s heptathlon Chari Hawkins (Club: Swansea Harriers, Coach: Colin Bovell), the overnight leader didn’t just take over from where she left off, instead she pushed on for a runaway victory and significantly a Championship Best Performance that eclipsed 1988 Olympian Kim Hagger’s 1989 mark, totalling 6137.

Hawkins, a US international based in the UK, soared out to 6.07 in the long jump and was then mightily impressive in the javelin, the spear touching down at 43.71. Knowing she had it in the bag, she clocked 2:17.64 for the final event, the 800m. Yes, there were better marks, notably from silver medallist Diane Marie-Hardy (Club: Loughborough Students), who thanks to a 6.19, 38.70, 2:10.75 treble hauled herself up from fourth overnight to the silver medal position, like Hawkins amassing a PB total of points, 5836.

On the subject of PBs, Emma Nwofor (Club: Newham & Essex Beagles AC, Coach: Linford Christie), in third place also was rewarded with just that, thanks to her final day of 5.69, 32.61 and 2:26.03 which netted her 5559, a huge 410 points more than she’s ever achieved before. It also secured her the English U23 title, Best marks didn’t stop there either, Ellen Barber (Club: Yeovil, Coach: Dave Feeney) in fourth (partly thanks to a massive 45.48 in the javelin) and Beth Taylor (Club: Rotherham, Coach: Mike Corden) in sixth also recorded best-ever totals, with 11 of the 15 finishers doing just that. For Barber that meant she picked up silver in the English U23 competition with Katie Garland (Club: Brighton and Hove, Coach: Grant Brown) was third with 5487, her 6.10 long jump particularly impressive.

Senior Women Heptathlon Results (PDF 136kB)

Senior Men Decathlon

Consistency had been the watchword on Day One and so it once again proved on the second day as Ben Gregory (Club: Birchfield, Coach: Aston Moore), eased to the lead after the first two events.

From there he never looked back, putting together five solid performances that saw him move up from his third on the opening day to take the title. Things started strongly enough as he picked up 846 points for his 15.03 in the 110H. That was good, but the best was yet to come as after a consistent - there’s that word again - discus that resulted in 37.88 to keep him in the lead, Gregory sailed over 4.92 in the pole vault to now take a commanding lead. Given he’s a 5.20 man, that height perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise, but in a long, drawn out competition it was good jumping which took full advantage of the work he had done in the discus.

From there, it was about keeping your cool, something the Welshman did superbly, hitting 53.68 in the javelin before running a very competitive 1500m in 4:27.07, one of the quickest times of the day.

Gregory’s points total was 7517, comfortably clear of Ireland’s Michael Bowler (Club: Birmingham Uni), who like his Birchfield rival moved through the field on day two. He was just fifth overnight, but a 15.12 performance in the hurdles, followed by 39.71 in the discus, 4.32 in the vault, 54.59 (longest of the day) in the javelin and a 4:40.37 1500m hauled him up to silver with 7263.

The U23 was a little closer as Lewis Church (Club: Tonbridge, Coach: David Hull) enjoyed one of his best competitions and a great second day to take gold with 7214 as well as senior bronze. Clubmate Harry Kendal (Club: Tonbridge, Coach: Mike Corden) had been leading the whole competition overnight but couldn't hang on, totalling 7043, and saw daylight opened up in the final three events as Church jumped 4.42, threw 53.21 and ran 4:37.63 to Kendal’s 4.32, 53.23 and 4:51.60. Close indeed.

Senior Men Decathlon Results (PDF 124kB)

Under 20 Women Heptathlon

When it comes to impressive surely Jade O'Dowda (Club: Oxford City AC, Coach: Marcia Marriott) will leave Bedford with the strongest hold on that title given her win in the U20 championships raised her to eighth on the all-time list thanks to the 5610 points she scored. It was also a championships best performance, beating the 2009 mark held by a certain Katarina Johnson-Thompson. O’Dowda’s first day was good, but her final three events - a 6.05 long jump, 37.43 and a 2:22.17 800m - really showed the crowd what she was all about. Encouragingly, Grace Bower (Club: Sale, Coach: Mike Holmes) actually beat her Oxford rival in the 800m with a very fine 2:21.88. She hauled herself up from third on day one, so she too is most definitely a name to look to in the future thanks to her personal best 5283, and in the type of form that took her to the English Schools pentathlon title in 2014. Twelve of the 13 finishers recorded personal bests in what was one of the finest competitions held at Bedford.

Olivia Dobson (Club: Exeter) won the U18 competition, jumping 5.44, throwing 37.51 and clocking 2:33.35 for 800 to earn herself 5173 points for third overall.

U20 Women Heptathlon Results (PDF 125kB)

Under 20 Men Decathlon

Sport never fails to produce amazing finishes, but few can claim to be quite as nail biting as Nicolas Gerome's (Club: Basingstoke & Mid Hants) 1500 which saw him claw back a huge points margin to overhaul his clubmate and defending champion Caius Joseph (Club: Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC, Coach: Rafer Joseph) to take gold.

Joseph had, on day one, gone about business as usual building up a nice lead, all the time tracked by Gerome, who it appeared would be a worthy runner-up. However, Gerome had other ideas and hung tough, remaining an always close second or third. Still, thanks to a 4.52 in an epic duration pole vault Joseph still had the upper hand and to the untrained eye it might have appeared to be over. But then things changed dramatically. Gerome produced a huge 47.28 in the javelin, more than making up for his 4.32 vault, while Joseph was only hitting 34.28. Still, it would take something pretty special in the 1500m, run at 8pm such had been the intensity of the vault.

Simply put Gerome went for it - his 4:21.82 meaning he had to win by more than 20sec. He did! Joseph ran 4:45.40 and his title had gone. Gerome scored 7136 to Joseph’s 7109, perfectly summing up the competitive nature of the weekend as a whole.

As everybody realised only too well after day one, U18 Jack Turner (Club: Exeter, Coach: Kevin Skinner) would be a tough cookie and so it proved he carried on where he left off on Saturday with a string of great performances, highlighted by a 48.22 javelin. If his pole vaulting can be developed his total of 7034 certainly means he’ll be one to watch. With Turner on U18 implements it was Joel McFarlane (Club: Arbroath & District AC, Coach: Ian McFarlane) who secured the third of the Under 20 positions with 6625.

U20 Men Decathlon Results (PDF 119kB)

Disability Open Events

Marcel Hodge (Club: Harborough) and Laura Sugar (Club: Birchfield, Coach: Joseph McDonnell) both posted impressive 200 metre sprints, T20 Hodge, a double World champ clocking a nice early season 23.32 while T44 Sugar posted 28.61.

Results of disability events:

Click here to can view our end of Day One report, including the open events