England Athletics U15/U17 and para championships: day 1 report

Back to the future

Without any question the next Olympic, World, or European finalist – not mention the odd medallist – began their journey to senior glory in Bedford as so many have done so before. It’s easy to look back and discover today’s great names who medalled in Eugene, Birmingham or Munich in past results but more importantly Saturday’s events hinted at who we should be looking to in the future as these championships once again highlighted just how powerful our sport is looking with a string of top 10 all-time best performances. Roll on Paris 2024 and beyond…

In the field

A massive lifetime best secured the gold for Timi Babatunde (John Hillier, Dartford Harriers) in the U17 men’s discus, his sixth round 55.70 winning throw more than two metres further than his pre-event PB of 53.07. He had thrown 53.86 in the third round but still found himself in second behind Ireland’s Cian Crampton (55.28) all the way to that final effort.

“I threw that [55m] in training recently, so I knew I was in form to do that,” said Timi. Even so, he did admit that such a huge throw was a “bit of a surprise.”

An exciting U17 men’s high jump also perfectly illustrated what this championship is all about – surprising yourself as well as the opposition. Charlie Seago (Cathy James, Thurrock Harriers) did just that. He started the season with a best of just 1.80 and going into the competition thought he might be able to pick up a medal, but as his gold and 17cm improvement over the season proved, “anything can happen,” said an overjoyed Charlie, understandably pleased with the way the season has unfolded. He won with 1.97 from more fancied rivals and far better than his form – fifth at the English Schools' – would suggest.

“If you’ve got a dream, just keep on chasing it,” he concluded.

U17 Men HJ Charlie Seago

Continuing the theme of lifetime bests, Harriet Wheeler (David McKay, West Cheshire) threw 44.57 to win the U15 girls’ javelin, her close-to two-metre PB good enough for eighth all-time. But she had to be in that form as just 5cm behind her, and now tenth all-time with 44.52 was Elise Christiansen (Guildford and Godalming). And in almost a carbon copy, the first two in the U15 boys’ javelin both threw huge PBs with Barney Hastings (David Leach, Lewes) winning in 53.38 compared to his previous best of 48.08 while Charlie Mason (Cheltenham) moved from 49.08 to 54.24. “I didn’t think it was that far,” said Barney who suspected he might be in that kind of form, but as he says, you can never be quite sure.

“I knew I could throw over 50 but was really surprised when I saw the board.”

Barney Hastings under 15 boys javelin

It was clearly a day of big improvements as Alice Howie (Matthew Evans, Worthing) took the U15 girls’ hammer with 54.67 far beyond her previous best of 52.47, good enough for ninth on the UK all-time list, while Harry Casey (John Mahon, Enfield and Haringey) was also in the business of adding to his title tally – gold in the U15 boys’ pole vault with a UK leading 3.92 and a big personal best, improving on his 3.80 that won him the English Schools’ title.

In the U17 women’s shot, Annabel Amadin (Bob Gaisie, Sale Harriers Manchester) threw a season’s best of 15.21 to win what proved to be a super competitive event with six throwers going beyond 14 metres. ]

“I’m really happy with that and end the season on a high,” said Annabel, adding that it’s been a tough season but finally she’s rediscovered her 2021 form that took her to seventh all-time.

U17 women shot Annabel Amadin

Luke Pichler (Daniel Njai-Rowney, Blyth RC) added the outdoor title to his indoor victory with a 6.25 in the U15 boys’ long jump.

In the ambulant U17 women’s discus, Amy Thompson (Wigan and District, Robert Halliwell) threw a solid 22.02 to confirm her world No.1 status in the event. She then won the shot with 7.13 to cap a busy day.

On the track

Judging from the early rounds, the U17 men’s 100m would be all about Teddy Wilson (Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai, BFT Track Academy) and how far the 10.53 runner this season would win by. It turned out to be 0.34sec as he put clear daylight between him and his chasing competitors in the first power-packed 20 metres. From there on, it was all about holding his form, which he duly did, and he stopped the clock at 10.58 to take the title, hinting that there’s perhaps more to come. The U17 women’s 100m was a much closer race, although in reality the result was never really in doubt as Faith Akinbeleje (John Blackie, Blackheath and Bromley) kept her composure and form to win in 11.93 into a stiff headwind of -2.5m/s.

Wilson (36) u17 men 100m

Earlier, it was all about middle distance racing, highlighted by the U15 boys’ 3000m. Wasting no time with early slow lap tactics, the whole field rolled through one kilometre in a touch over 3min. Solid. By two kilometres (6:05.2), it was down to two. Jake Meyburgh (Shireen Higgins, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) led at the bell before he surged hard with 200 metres to run, winning in a personal best of 8:56.34.

Meanwhile, the U15 boys’ 1500m was the usual cagey affair finals tend to be at events like this. The field ambled through the opening couple of laps in 2:23, any one from six a potential winner. But then, with 600m to run Myles Fraser (Andy Bibby, Preston) hit it hard reducing the chasing pack to three. And with 150 metres left it was left to Evan Grime (Ian Grime, Salford Harriers) to pass him to win comfortably in 4:13.16.

Evan Grime u15 boys 1500m

The U17 women’s 3000m was all but over by one kilometre as Innes Fitzgerald (Exeter) – sub nine this season – eased further into the lead with each passing lap. She won in 9:21.28, while in the U15 girls’ race run at the same time, Katie Pye (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham and District) clocked 10:01.47 for her gold medal.

Photos by Mark Shearman