England Athletics U17 and U15 and Para Championships: Day 2 report

Birmingham hosts a superb season finale

Day two of the traditional curtain call to the season produced a solid series of top performances worthy of the title ‘National Champion’.

For some it was the icing on the cake after a successful campaign that has taken them as far afield as Trinidad and Tobago. For others it marked a major breakthrough that will set them up for a winter of hard work and potentially a berth on the team for the World U18s in Peru next summer.

One of the highlights on a day where stars shone brightly were the U15 boy’s shot and discus that featured Lawson Capes (Lewis Capes, Peterborough and Nene Valley). He’s No.5 all-time in the discus and No.7 in the shot. Along with the two gold medals, he had half an eye on breaking 18 metres in the shot, although his final round effort of 17.96m – a PB – was just shy.

“I was hoping to throw 18 today,” Lawson confirmed, “but now I hope to get it in the final few meetings of the year.”

Just a couple of hours later he was once again in the circle, this time for the U15 boys’ discus. He eased into the lead with his very first throw of 43.35m before his second-round effort of 48.62m effectively ended that competition.

Also in the mood to complete the double was Saturday’s 100 metre winner Ebuka Nwokeji (Ty Holden, Shaftesbury Barnet). He powered away from Sunday’s U17 men’s 200m field in the closing 50 metres to record a mightily impressive lifetime best of 21.31 into a slight headwind to secure gold.

Earlier in the day that blustery wind gusted as hard as +5m/s in the home-straight at times and that meant it played a significant role in the middle distances.

In the U15 girls’ 800m, for instance, seven of the eight finalists hit the top bend tightly bunched before a 30.1 closing 200 won it for Natasha Wynn (John Stow, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) as she crossed the line in 2:15.87.

The U17 girls’ final was only marginally different in that the pace was fractionally quicker but still not full-out by any means. It was Anna Gisbourne (Trevor Painter, Bury) who controlled things, towing the field through a comfortable 64 seconds before holding off all-comers to win in 2:09.81.

Finally, in the U17 boys two-lapper a flying final 30m saw Tom Waterworth (Derek Darnell, Hunts) move from fourth to first adding the outdoor title to the gold medal he won indoors with 1:54.91.

“I can’t believe that,” said a very happy Tom. “There was a massive gap with 200m to go but they all came back to me. I can’t thank my coach Derek enough, he’s incredible,” he added.

Cheyne West (Julie Benterman, Medway and Maidstone) clipped the last hurdle in the U17 men’s 400m hurdles but was in full control as he powered his way to the win, clocking 53.80. He won the English Schools title and the Schools’ International, so this proved to be the icing on the cake.

“I did hit that hurdle, but I didn’t really have to correct anything,” explained Cheyne. “I was in control,” he laughed.

Also in top shape and fully in control was Mia Walker (Andrew Fraser, Wirral) who ran her last ever 300m hurdles to win the U17 women’s title in 43.57. Starting slowly, the Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist over 400m hurdles, ran her race plan to perfection.

“I always start slowly and try to run the last 50 as fast as I can,” she said. “It is tricky to run different distances in the season but that’s it now,” she laughed thanking her coach Andy and her parents for such a great season. “Just the Northern League to go.”

Personal bests at this championship are always noteworthy especially when it wins you a national title. Isabella Turner (Dacorum) added 10cm to her lifetime best (the height she won English Schools title with at the same venue) to win the U17 women’s pole vault with 3.75m. In the U17 men’s event, Rudi May (Trevor Fox, Sheffield and Dearne) went a step further and improved by 20cm on his way to 4.61m, the best in the country in 2023.

Not be outdone, Rayhan Mourtada (John Blackie, Blackheath and Bromley) also recorded a UK No.1 for 2023, clocking 12.95 in the U17 men’s 100m hurdles.

All cause for celebration, although the winner of that award has to be Rahman Odugbayi (Dartford) in the U15 boys’ triple jump. He leapt to a lifetime best 13.87m in the final round which not only resulted in a gold medal, it was also produced easily the loudest celebratory roar of the day.

Photos by Pat Isaacs

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