England Athletics Senior and U20 Combined Events Indoor Championships (7-8 January) - preview

Barely any sooner has the new year begun than the first championships of the season are upon us - the England Athletics Senior and Under-20 Combined Events Indoor Championships.

At the English Institute of Sport Arena in Sheffield, some of the country’s top combined eventers, such as Lewis Church (pictured), Jo Rowland and Sammy Ball will be seeking to make their mark early in 2023.

The senior and junior men will take part over both Saturday and Sunday in their heptathlons. As for the pentathlon, the junior women will complete their events on day one before their senior counterparts take over on day two. These championships will be acting as a trial event for a Combined Event England Team competing in Tallinn, Estonia, between the 4 and 5 February 2023 (selection policy can be found here).

Also on the second day will be a series of races put on by the British Milers’ Club featuring among others 1500m world champion Jake Wightman. After his superb 2022, the UK all-time No.3 will make his season debut by stepping up to the 3000m, scheduled for 1.45pm. Competing in some of the 16 scheduled races will be European 3000m bronze medallist Alex Melloy, world U20 800m finalist Abigail Ives and UK 800m bronze medallist Isabelle Boffey.

The weekend will also feature two England Athletics 3000m race walk championship events.

Senior men’s heptathlon

Lewis Church (coach: David Hull; club: Tonbridge) is back to defend his title against tough opposition. Last year he scored 5482 in a hard-fought win amid an amazingly consistent season — he also tallied up scores of 5488 and 5491.

Showing how close it could be in Sheffield, lining up with Church will be two athletes who finished within 78 points of him when he later won the UK title in Birmingham last winter: Howard Bell (Colin Sinclair; Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), who won England silver as a junior, and Elliott Thompson (Greg Richards; Enfield & Haringey), who gained the UK decathlon title last summer.

Harry Maslen (Sam Stanislaus; Ilkley) is another who could challenge. He was third here 12 months ago. Sam Talbot (John Lane; Sheffield & Dearne), who was UK-ranked No.3 in decathlon in 2022, will also line up. Caius Joseph (Rafer Joseph; Basingstoke Mid Hants) won England decathlon bronze last May and is looking for more silverware here.

Charlie Roe (Steve Marshall; Coventry) and Liam Reveley (Liane Brown; Jarrow & Hebburn) look to continue their good seasons after starting off with silver and bronze respectively behind Thompson at the South of England Championships.

A strong Scottish contingent includes Adam Hoole, who was third in the U20 section last year, and Callum Newby.

Senior women’s pentathlon

Jo Rowland (Crawley) is back to try to go one better than last year when she took silver behind’s Ireland’s Anna McCauley. With her PB of 4291 from 2018, she tops the entries, but it could again be non-English opposition she has most to fear.

Germany’s Laura Voss, who was fourth in the high jump at the 2011 World Youth Championships, is among the challengers. She scored her PB of 4154 in winning the German indoor title last year. USA’s Kaitlin Smith amassed 4118 last February to rank third on the entry lists.

Lauren Evans was third last year and later improved to 4020. After finishing seventh at the Commonwealth Games for Wales last summer, she will be looking to make a bigger impression here this time.

Natasha Smith (David Feeney; Birchfield), who was fourth in the England Championships heptathlon last summer, is another who could be close to the top of the leaderboard.

Emily Tyrrell (Kevin Skinner; Team Bath), who won England heptathlon bronze as a junior, will contest her first pentathlon in a while. Similarly, Scotland’s Katie Burr, who won England heptathlon bronze as an under-17, is back in combined events for the first time in two and a half years.

Jordanna Morrish (Rafer Joseph; Bracknell) and Laura Darcey (Rafer Joseph; Basingstoke Mid Hants) are among the other top contenders.

U20 men’s heptathlon

After just missing out last year in a tremendous encounter, Sammy Ball (Michael Dyer; Reading AC) is back to try to step up from silver and threaten the UK age-group best. The talented youngster suffered a rare defeat to Murray Fotheringham 12 months ago as the duo went to second and third on the UK all-time list with 5774 and 5602 respectively.

With Fotheringham having moved up to the senior ranks, Ball is beginning his final year as an U20 and should at least challenge the 5793 all-time best from 2010 by David Guest. His competitors will have a tough task on their hands.

Wales’ Iolo Grant won England U17 heptathlon silver last winter and he is again making the trip across the border in search of medals. Ethan Ellis (Denis Costello; City of Norwich) was just three points behind in winning bronze back then so is clearly another who could be in the mix.

James Harney (Alexander Wort, East Cheshire), the England U17 decathlon champion last year, is a good bet to improve on his sixth place in last winter’s national indoor championships.

Others who should feature include Ryan Wells (Wycombe), an England U17 decathlon silver medallist two years ago, Jay Cook (Matt Cullen, Bury), who was fourth in the under-18 decathlon at last summer’s England Athletics Championships and Conrad Winter (City of Norwich).

U20 women’s pentathlon

The junior event sees a number of top athletes from last year returning. Scotland’s Amy Kennedy was fourth on the U20 UK pentathlon rankings last winter and thus leads the entries on PBs with 3660.

Grace Colmer (Andrew Fisher; Winchester) was fifth last year with 3444 and is another who will be back in action.  Wales’ Jessica Lee won the England Athletics U17 heptathlon title last summer so she could be one to watch here.

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