Day 2 Report - Senior and U20 Combined Events Champs

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On an exciting second day of competition at the England Athletics Combined Events Championships in Sheffield, the titles went to Andrew Murphy in the Senior Men’s Heptathlon, Holly Mills in the women’s equivalent and Scott Brindley in the Under 20 Men’s Heptathlon.

Meanwhile, Tom Bosworth and Pagen Spooner took the 3k Walks golds.

Senior Men’s Heptathlon

Andrew Murphy enjoyed an excellent second day to move from fifth and take gold with 5606. The Kilbarchan AC athlete began with a PB of 8.31 (905) in the 60m hurdles to climb into third. At that point, GB international Ashley Bryant (Windsor) was still holding on to his lead, but disaster struck when he no-heighted in the pole vault. The Aston Moore-coached athlete, in his first combined events since 2017 due to injury, failed at his opening height at 3.63m and thus dropped to 13th. Meanwhile, Murphy, who is coached by Colin Sinclair, went over at 4.93m for 889 points in the pole vault. Despite the superb 5.13m (951) by Jack Phipps (Birchfield, Nick Phipps), it gave the Kilbarchan athlete a lead of 74 points. It would come down to a battle with Spanish international Pablo Trescoli in the 1000m. The latter crossed the line just ahead in 2:46.95 (798), but ultimately he was 66 points short. Murphy’s 2:47.64 (790) was just outside his PB. Lewis Church (Tonbridge) was third with 5391. It had been a quiet progression to the title for Murphy, who was second here last year. On day one, he set a PB of 7.16 (826) in the 60m, long-jumped 7.11m, threw the shot 13.45m and achieved 1.84m in the high jump.

Caius Joseph (BMH, Rafer Joseph), Liam Reveley (Blaydon, Liane Brown) and Nicolas Gerome (BMH, Rafer Joseph) took the Under 23 gold, silver and bronze medals.

Senior Women’s Heptathlon

After winning the Under 20 title the past two years, Holly Mills (Andover AC, Laura Turner-Alleyne) completed a hat-trick by moving up to take Senior gold in fine style. However, she had to fight for it after particularly good performances from silver and bronze medallists, respectively Jade O’Dowda (Oxford City, Toni Minichiello) and Kate O’Connor (St. Gerards, Toni Minichiello). Mills' PB score of 4261 puts her 10th on the UK all-time list and only 36 points short of the Championship record. A 110-point improvement over her Under 20 championship best set here last year.

The Andover AC athlete started well with an 8.49 (1019) in the 60m hurdles - 0.07 outside her PB and enough to give her the lead with 1019 points. In the high jump, she was six centimetres below her best with 1.72m (879) as O’Dowda improved her PB to 1.78m (973) to close the lead to just 10 points. The shot then saw a big throw of 12.99m (727) from Ireland’s Kate O’Connor, who moved into the lead. As O’Dowda set a PB of 12.38m (686), she relegated Mills, who threw 11.70m (641), to third.

It was looking like a close battle as the three six-metre long jumpers prepared for the penultimate event. It was O’Dowda who prevailed with 5.95m (834), four centimetres further than European junior long jump bronze medallist Mills (822), as O’Connor jumped 5.63m (738). It meant O’Dowda had a 47-point lead going into the 800m.

Mills, with coach Laura Turner-Alleyne cheering her on, led from the start but O’Dowda chased closely all the way. Clearly giving it everything, her winning time of 2:14.46 (900) was a PB. O’Dowda also produced a lifetime best, clocking 2:19.53 (830). Just 23 points separated them at the end, with O’Dowda also setting a PB tally of 4238. O’Connor took bronze with 4072. The three also took the Under-23 accolades.

Under 20 Men’s Heptathlon

North Ayrshire’s Scott Brindley had to endure a tense wait to be confirmed as winner, given that Rory Howorth won the 1000m by so much. However, it was a comfortable margin of 133 in the end for the athlete coached by Colin Sinclair, Mark Stringer and Brian Donaldson as he accumulated 5357 after two tough days. Having been third overnight, Brindley clocked the fastest 60m hurdles time of 8.27 (915) to move into a six-point lead. He also excelled in the high jump, adding a huge 10cm to his PB with 2.00m (803). It left him with a 113-point gap over Philip Kastner (Walton, Adrian Hemery), the overnight leader. However, with 1:57 800m runner Rory Howorth (Bath, Charlotte Lingfield) in fourth, the top three knew they would see him charge away from them at the bell and in pursuit of medals. Howorth’s PB of 2:35.09 (929) put him 11 seconds clear of the rest, but he came up an agonising 29 points short of a podium place on 5136.

Callum Newby (Edinburgh, Derek Johnston) moved up to collect silver with 5224 and Kastner won bronze on 5165. After Brindley’s 2:55.51 (709), his tally of 5357 puts him at ninth on the UK all-time list for the age group. Further to his two PBs today, he had set bests in the 60m of 7.20 (813) and shot of 11.17 (556) on day one.

Yesterday Jodie Smith (Windsor, Daniel Sawyers) won the Under 20 Women’s Pentathlon - the only title sealed on day one.

Away from the combined events, the first title of the day predictably went to Olympian race walker Tom Bosworth (Tonbridge, Andi Drake), who didn’t need to approach his World Record time in the 3000m walk (10:30.28). Competing without the back injury that plagued him for much of last year, the athlete who was seventh at last year’s World Championships 20km clocked 11:18.00 as he came home more than a minute and a half clear. Tom Partington (Manx, Steve Partington) was timed at 13:00.32 for silver and Luc Legon (Bexley, Noel Carmody) 13:04.74 for bronze.

In the women’s race, Pagen Spooner (Hyde Park Harriers, Andi Drake) overtook longtime leader Natalie Myers (Derbyshire & South Yorkshire, Helen Elleker) to win 15:10.67 to 15:11.26. Bronze medallist Carolyn Derbyshire (Nuneaton/Midland Masters) walked 15:44.95.

Also staged were a series of middle-distance races organised by the British Milers Club. The results of the A races will be used as a basis of selection for international matches including the Vienna Indoor Classic on 25 January. Stephanie Moss (Sale, Trevor Painter), last year’s England Under 20 indoor champion won the women’s 800m A race in 2:09.91. World Under 20 finalist Alex Botterill (York, Andrew Henderson), on his first time on the boards at this distance in a long while, set an indoor PB of 1:49.77 in the men’s equivalent.

In the men’s 1500m A, Piers Copeland (Wimborne, Bob Smith) clocked an indoor PB of 3:43.78 to hold off James McMurray (3:44.33). Women’s winner Kirsty Fraser (Preston, Andy Bibby) was involved in a race-long battle with Khahisa Mhlanga, who had an unfortunate fall just 50m from the end. Fraser stopped the clock on 4:20.81 before consoling Mhlanga, who had got up to place second in 4:28.01.
Jamaine Coleman (Preston, Helen Clitheroe) was well clear once the pacemaker dropped out in the men’s 3000m A as he went on to clock 8:04.93 - within five seconds of his best. Ricky Harvie (AFD) was next in on 8:12.66.