Many of the country’s top young athletes will be in action this weekend (12-13 February) at the England Athletics U20/U17/U15 Championships in Sheffield.
After the EIS Arena last month welcomed the combined-eventers, this time it’s the turn of the specialists to show their immense promise for the future.
Some of the leading older athletes are laying the groundwork for tilts at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Colombia this summer. Meanwhile, the younger ones are experiencing their first opportunity at a national championships and this could be our first chance to see the stars of the future shine on a big stage.
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Here are some of the highlights to expect from each category.
Over 60m, Jeriel Quainoo (Blackheath & Bromley; Ryan Freckleton) and Emmanuel Duruiheoma (Shaftesbury Barnet; Ryan Freckleton) will renew their rivalry from the Southern Indoors. Duruiheoma tops the UK under-20 rankings for the year with his 6.73 from the semi-final but it was Quainoo who prevailed in the final.European U20s representative Jason Kalala (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets; Nat Senior) is fastest of the 200m entries but Michael Onilogbo (Newham & Essex Beagles; Carl Graham) could push him.
Alex Melloy (Cambridge & Coleridge), who won European junior 3000m bronze last year, steps down to 1500m, looking to secure his first England title.
Luke Ball (Yate; Jeremy Dale) will be favourite in the high jump, leading the way with his PB of 2.10m and after starting his season well with a win in the Czech Republic. Archie Yeo (Kingston-upon-Hull; Stephen Wymark), who is top-ranked for both long jump and triple jump, goes in both events, hoping to improve on his two silvers at under-17 level in 2019. Scotland’s Adam Hoole will be seeking more silverware after collecting EA heptathlon bronze last month. He is entered for the long jump and 60m hurdles.
Hurdler Mia McIntosh (Dacorum; Jake Awe) will be hoping to add to her outdoor England title in 2021. She also claimed gold over this 60m hurdles event indoors three years ago and has improved this season to 8.41 to rank 15th all time in the UK for her age group.
Staying with the sprints, the 60m flat looks to be high-quality. England senior and under-20 100m champion Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (Harrow) steps up to the under-20 ranks and is fastest on paper at 7.28. She meets European junior 100m bronze medallist Joy Eze (Gateshead), who beat her to the under-17 title here two years ago. Trezeguet Taylor (Trafford; Andrew Wood) and Success Eduan (Sale Harriers; Anita Richardson), the England outdoor under-17 champions at 100m and 200m respectively, are also stepping up.
It means the 200m has both athletes who competed for Britain in the event at the European Juniors last year - as well as Eduan, who won bronze, will be Sophie Hamilton (Horwich; Trevor Williamson), who was seventh. Also over one lap will be Yemi Mary John (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies; Alan James), who took European silver.
The pole vault will also have a European Juniors representative in Gemma Tutton (Lewes; Richard Pilling), who last year matched the UK under-17 pole vault best with 4.10m. Zara Tyas (Stockport T&F), who won junior heptathlon silver in Sheffield last month, returns to head the high jump roster. Triple jumper Melissa Booth (Sale Harriers Manchester; Keith Hunter) is keen to add to her Northern title and she, along with Georgina Scoot (Torbay; Richard Derrick) will be favourites.
Jaiden Dean (City of Norwich; Brian Hopkins) should start a big favourite in the 60m hurdles to add to his under-15 title in 2020, having recently set a UK under-17 best. He won at the Southerns in January with 7.83 before going even quicker at 7.79 at the London Indoor Games. Dante Legister (Camb H; Mick Bond) will line up quickest in the 60m, having begun his season well. At the Southern Indoors, he climbed to sixth on the UK all-time under-17 list with 6.85. Rusciano Thomas-Riley (Coventry Godiva; Ronnie Williams) and Teddy Wilson (BFT Track Academy; Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai) look set to challenge after running 6.90 this year.
Both Wilson, who took the England 100m title outdoors last year, and Thomas-Riley are also down for the 200m, along with Dean Patterson (Glasgow School of Sport; Norrie Hay), the fastest on paper with 21.47.
The high jump could be a tense affair with Wales’ Osian Roberts and Martins Ogedenbe Dobies (Sale Harriers Manchester) both having bests of 1.95m.
The 60m could be one of the highlights as favourites Renee Regis (BFT Track Academy; Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai) and Faith Akinbileje (Blackheath & Bromley; John Blackie) meet for the first time this season. Both have gone to equal seventh on the UK all-time list for their age group this season with 7.51. Niah Akintokun (Shaftesbury Barnet) could challenge too if she can approach her pre-season best of 7.55.
Scotland’s Libby White will be looking to make her mark in the triple jump, having already won the Southern Championships with a 12.31m leap that took her to eighth on the UK all-time under-17 list. Second best on PBs is Lia Bonsu (Croydon; Paul Weston), who heads the 60m hurdles candidates. At the Southerns, she ran 8.57 to go to 16th on the UK all-time list for her age grouping.
Shot-putter Annabel Amadin (Sale Harriers Manchester), who went to seventh all time last summer among British under-17s with 15.58m, will be hopeful of even greater success in her second year in the age group.
Similarly, high jumper Gracie Wall (Bedford & County; Barry Johnson) leads the contenders with her 1.73m from last year and can hope to improve further in her final year.
Over 60m hurdles, Luke Pichler (Blyth; Daniel Njai-Rowney) is trying to add to his win at the Northern Championships, where his 8.61 took him to the top of the rankings for the year. He is also entered for the high jump, where he is ranked second with 1.74m behind Nathan Brassington (West Cheshire; David McKay), who has cleared 1.75m. Brassington is also best of the shot put entries with 12.32m.
James Beecroft (Sevenoaks; Darrell Smith) heads the 60m and 200m entries on times. In the 60m, he could have close opposition from Northern Ireland’s Arnar Brynjarsson, but his PB of 22.59 puts him a long way clear of his nearest competition in the one-lap event.
In the 60m hurdles, Leah Wagstaff (Cambridge & Coleridge) is comfortably No.1 on PBs - thanks to her 8.95 from her Southern Championships win last month. That puts her inside the all-time top 20 for her age group.
Nell Desir is flying high following her Welsh age-group best of 7.57 last weekend which puts her sixth on the UK all-time list, and she will be favourite for the short sprint. Another challenging in that event will be Ann Oerlemans (Enfield & Haringey; Christine Harrison-Bloomfield), whose 7.68 this year puts her inside the top 20 all-time. Both are entered for the 200m, where Oerlemans has the superior 200m outdoor time.
Shakira King (Wreake & Soar Valley; John Skevington), who won the England outdoor 800m title as a first-year under-15 last summer, is due to make her debut on the boards for 2022 as she prepares for her last year in the age group. Last year, she clocked 2:11.23, which is more than five seconds quicker than anyone else in the field has recorded.