Day two is always about applying the finishing touches when it comes to the Combined Events Championships. For some it’s the culmination of another amazing season, while for most in this field it lays down a useful marker for the English Schools’ champs in early September. It all makes for a day of maintenance and shuffling as the overnight leaders look to keep a grip on that gold medal, while the chasing pack are keen to see a change in the overall order of things. Plus, as the day so superbly demonstrated, it creates a gripping event where nothing can ever be taken for granted.
U15 girls’ hexathlon
Jumps specialist Victoria Chapman (Border Harriers and AC) gained a first in the high jump with a 1.56m first time clearance. But all eyes were on event leader Molly Mills (Jessica Taylor-Jemmett, Stockport Harriers) who equalled her PB with 1.44m to give her an 83pt lead over Amelie Scott (Steve Mitchell, Chelmsford) who cleared 1.50m at the second time of asking.
The shot would prove pivotal as Scott could only open her account with 8.13m, while long-time leader Mills fired the shot out to 10.43m with her first throw. Scott did improve to 9.14m but so did Mills, who threw a season’s best 10.58m with her last effort.
Of course, nothing can ever be taken for granted but Mills would line up for the last event, the 800 with a sizeable 177pt lead. With that buffer, she could be excused for sitting in and following the pace, but instead she went straight to the front and simply ran away from the pack. She crossed the line in 2:24.11 to finish with 3655pts.
U17 women’s heptathlon
The opening event on Sunday was the long jump, which for leader Zoe Gregory (Sam Harrison, Basildon) is one of her better events. So, it was no surprise she opened with 5.44m, closely followed by the athlete in second, Eden Robinson (North Devon) who recorded 5.40m with her opening jump. Robinson did improve that to 5.47m, which reduced Gregory’s lead by 8pts, but that was only temporary.
The Basildon athlete essentially secured the gold medal and added the outdoor title to the one she took indoors with the very first throw in the javelin. She launched it out to 37.86m which no other competitor would or could match. As ever, the 800 is all about attrition and credit to Gregory who dug deep to match Robinson stride for stride all the way to the line for massive PBs for both of them. Robinson’s 2:24.54 was a lifetime best as was Gregory’s 2:25.07. She won the gold medal and England title with 5115pts.
U15 boys’ octathlon
It was a case of business as usual in the 80m hurdles for the leader after day one, Oliver Downs (Alex Pope, Invicta East Kent). He continued the good form he had demonstrated in the closing events on the Saturday with a great run, his 12.01 earning him 706pts. That stretched his lead to more than 200 points, which meant the final three events would be all about maintaining that position. He duly did just that by throwing a PB of 30.88m in the discus, the second best of the competition.
The high jump was all about keeping your cool which is exactly how Downs went about things. Showing no signs of pressure he cleared all his opening heights first time before he eased over 1.68m punching the air as he landed on the mat. Game over. And that phrase sums up the final event perfectly as after just 50 metres as Downs surged to the lead. He quickly built up a commanding lead very quickly and passed the bell fully 12 seconds in the lead. He won the race in 2:53.00, 18 seconds in front. He scored 4451points, earned the new England Octathlon record, and on the way won six of the eight events.
“In the back of my mind, I knew I was in that shape,” said Oliver. “Everything has been going well so I thought I could do that, although I think I can improve in a few events,” he said, adding that his pole vault currently needs a little work.
U17 men’s decathlon
Overnight leader, Corey Beechall (Alexander Wort, Liverpool Harriers and AC) was slightly slow out of the blocks in the 100m hurdles, but nonetheless found his stride quickly and crossed the line in second place with 13.70, good for a further 835pts. Toby Wright (Steve Shaw, Taunton) clocked the fastest time, his 13.56 earning him 851pts which kept him in fourth overall.
Nothing really changed in the discus as Beechall threw 31.48m, which was a PB by more than two metres. Indeed, none of his closet rivals could match that so it was on to the pole vault and the potential upset that discipline can create.
On paper, Beechall’s best jump was a mere 3.27m but he chose to enter the competition at 3.53m, potentially a huge gamble. However, his current form in training suggested that would be a height he could clear. And that’s what he did at first time of asking to all but secure the gold medal as he now had a 290pt lead. Ahead of him in the vault was Arthur Reilly (Trevor Fox, City of Sheffield and Dearne) who cleared 4.03m.
Next up was the javelin where Luke Pichler (Rob Wilson, Blyth) did his best to reduce the gap by opening his account with 44.97m, a 50cm PB. Beechall responded with 39.62m, also a PB. It meant the pair would line up with 212 points separating them. In the 1500m Beechall, second indoors but now the gold medallist was a long way behind bronze medallist Ruben Stovell (John Lane, Hallamshire Harriers) on this occasion 4:27.59 to 4:44.56 but it was yet another PB for the Liverpool Harrier. His finally points total was 6333pts.
Report by Paul Larkins. Photos by Paul Halford