After a series of top results in the various age-group and senior England Athletics Championships already this year, this weekend it’s the turn of the younger athletes to shine.
Having missed this event last year due to the pandemic, the country’s best will be eager to make up for lost time at the England Athletics U17 and U15 Championships and U20 and U16 Disability Championships at the Manchester Regional Arena. Many will have already gained titles at the recent English Schools' Championships, while some such as Mia McIntosh and Isabelle Mardle have been showing themselves to be in record form.
Under 17 women
In the 80m hurdles, Mia McIntosh (Dacorum & Tring; Jake Awe) returns to the venue where at the English Schools' champs last month she set a UK all-time best of 10.95 for the group.
Pole vaulter Gemma Tutton (Lewes; Richard Pilling) is another who leads her age-group all-time rankings. She lines up having vaulted 4.10m earlier this year. Also hoping to reach new heights, Halle Ferguson (Trafford; Andrew Wood), the under-20 and English Schools' champion, heads the high jump entries. She is also entered in the triple jump, where Libby White (Ayr Seaforth; David Watson) is ranked first.
In the sprints, Etty Sisson (Charnwood), who has made great progress in her move up to 300m this year, heads the line-up on times in her event, having clocked 38.79. Nandy Kihuyu (Hallamshire; Charlene Thomas), who set a championships record in the under-15 category two years ago, and Jessica Astill (Stevenage & North Herts; Paul Keeble) will hope to challenge.
And for the longer distances - perhaps hoping to emulate 2018 800m England champion and now Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson (pictured) - English Schools' AA 800m champion Amarisa Sibley (Blackheath & Bromley; Jon Bigg) runs against Scotland’s Katie Johnson, who is the fastest this year. Rachel Clutterbook (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow; Shireen Higgins), who is sixth on the all-time list for her age category, heads the entries in the steeplechase with her PB of 4:56.4. In the 1500m, Keira Brady-Jones (Wirral; Sarah Kearney) leads the rankings and won the Schools title. Meanwhile at 3000m, Schools champion Jess Bailey (Leven Valley; Tim Winder) comfortably the quickest in the field and capable of attacking the championships record of 9:34.9.
Under 17 men
The multi-talented Jake Minshull won the 800m titles indoors and outdoors in 2019 and will be looking to defend his title over two laps. He is also ranked first over 400m hurdles but instead he is also entered for the 100m hurdles and long jump. It will also be a busy weekend for Sammy Ball (Reading; Michael Dyer) is ranked No.1 in the long jump and also competes here in the 100m hurdles, high jump and shot. Meanwhile, in the high jump, Luke Ball (Yate; Jeremy Dale) and Jakub Walecki (Colchester Simon Hemmings) will be favourites.
There should be good competition in the track events; over 200m, Jamie Carrott (Charnwood) is the quickest in the field with 21.85 and he faces English Schools' AA champion Joel Houslin (Thames Valley; Gary Telfer). The 400m entries are led by Calvin Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet; Nathan Rogers), who has run 48.88, and he will be challenged by Ben Sinclair (Manx), whom he just beat to gold at the English Schools. Frank Morgan (Carmarthen; Carol Jones) is quickest of the 3000m entries on 8:27.19 but looks set for a tough competition against Edward Bird (Poole; Mark Pauley) and TJ Jones (Wirral; Sara Kearney), who were a close first and second respectively at the English Schools.
In the 1500m steeplechase, Luke Birdseye (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow; Shireen Higgins) tops the entries on times and will be looking to cement his good form with a win in his first England Championships.
Kai Barham (Dartford; Paul Head) looks to be a big favourite in the hammer to add to his Schools title from last month.
Under 15 girls
Isabelle Mardle (City of Norwich; Keith Yellop) earlier this year equalled Mia McIntosh’s 75m hurdles under-15 best with 10.75 and she looks a contender to threaten the championship best of 10.91. She is also entered for the triple jump, where she would be also favourite, and the long jump. Callia Downey (BFT Track Academy; Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai) will be favourite in the 300m as she leads the rankings on 39.71.
In the discus, Nubia Evans-Shields (City of Plymouth; John Edwards), who ranks fifth in the under-15 girls’ all-time list, is more than 10m better than her closest competitor on the form list with 41.14m. Dulcie Yelling (Brighton & Hove; Bob Willows) is similarly ranked on the all-time list in the 500g javelin and she will be hoping to reverse her defeat at the English Schools' to 2021 UK number 1 Ayesha Jones (Marshall Milton Keynes; Janina Pownall). Eloise Macdonald (Andover) is looking for more silverware after her English Schools' AA hammer win.
Under 15 boys
Tom Rutter (Hertford & Ware; John Waugh) lies sixth on the all-time list in the under-15 boys’ javelin (61.44m) and he will be a strong favourite in his event. And Alexander Abebrese (Herne Hill) will be a big favourite in the shot as he seeks to improve on his bronze from last year. High jumper Sam Wright (Essex Schools; Simon Jennings) aims to follow his English Schools' win with another and he leads entries on performances this year with 1.90m. He is also one of the quickest in the 80m hurdles, where Elliott Hanslow (Crawley; Matthew Overall) leads the way. English Schools' AA 300m champion Zico Jones (Shaftesbury Barnet; Ty Holden) steps down to 200m, where he leads the entries on times (22.30). In the 1500m, rankings leader Alden Collier (Chiltern; Nick Hughes) will be hoping to add to his English Schools' win.
In the wheelchair races, Illias Zghoundi (Weir Archer Academy; David Lucas) and Oliver Porter (Leeds City; Paul Moseley) look set to have a series of battles over various distances, with both entered for multiple events from 100m to 800m.
Esme O’Connell is fastest of the entries in the ambulant women’s 100m as the disability events feature a total of 12 athletes altogether competing at under-15 to under-20 level.
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Photo by Mark Shearman: Keely Hodgkinson winning the England Athletics U17 800m in 2018