After the seniors and younger athletes had their chance last month, now it’s the turn of the under-17 and under-15 multi-eventers to show off their versatility in Bedford this weekend.
Some athletes are already well established but, particularly in the under-15 boys’ competition, the scene is set for new talents to break through. Here are some of the top contenders in each age group.
Under-17 men’s decathlon
Joe Stone (Tonbridge, Leslie Stone) will be hoping to step up from winning the England under-15 octathlon title last year. His score of 4407 on that occasion put him more than 1100 points clear of the rest of the field. Ethan Ellis, who was 11th ranked under-17 last year with 4901, is among the athletes staying in the age group. He was also the top English athlete at the England Athletics Indoor Combined Events in the spring.
These athletes will have no experience in the decathlon yet but Reef Page (Tonbridge; Lewis Church) has won an octathlon. At that event in Yeovil, he scored 4671 to finish nearly 200 points ahead of Stone. A score of around 5000 would be possible for him with PBs in the decathlon events of 100m and pole vault added. Also here is Sam Wright (Chelmsford, Simon Hemmings), who won the English Schools title last summer, when he beat Stone into second. James Harney (East Cheshire, Alexander Wort) was the sixth-ranked under-17 last year with 5304 and could be a factor here.
William Alexander (Winsdor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow, Tom Presho) and Adam Byrne (Southport Waterloo, Barrie Hughes), who were third and fifth-ranked under-15s last year, are also in the field. Another to watch for could be Demari Gumbs (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow, Tom Presho), who was third English athlete at the EA Indoors this year.
Under-17 women’s heptathlon
Many of the top under-17s from last year have since stepped up but Frances Hogg (City of York, Craig Pounder), who was ranked sixth in the heptathlon last year as an under-17, will be among those on the start list. Jessica Duncton (Cheltenham, Mark Dunklyn) won the England indoor pentathlon title this winter, beating Hogg into fourth so could be another contender. Also behind her there was Hayley Dimond (Marshall Milton Keynes, Claire Dimond), who was third and just 17 points below Duncton in these championships last year when they were both under-15s.
Stepping up an age group also are Abigail Belward (Winchester; Andrew Fisher) and Wales’ Nia Powell, who were second and third respectively in these championships last summer. Amber Hughes (Southport Waterloo, Barrie Hughes), who was ranked 13th in the UK last year, will be hoping to build on that in her second year as under-17.
Under-15 boys’ octathlon
Wales’ Luca Phillips, who was third at the England pentathlon championships indoors, is among those having to get used to new events as the competition schedule moves up to eight disciplines. Scotland’s James Clark, who was second in the Scottish pentathlon championships this year, is another from outside England who will be in contention. Also in the small field are Oliver Belbeck (Cheltenham) and Oscar Wilson (Gloucester, Matthew Holloway), who were sixth and eighth respectively in the England indoor championships.
Under-15 girls’ hexathlon
Scotland’s Victoria Anestik will be looking to improve on her fourth place in last year’s England hexathlon – an event which is lacking only the 200m in the heptathlon stakes. Also staying in the age group is Eve Drury (Leeds City, Daniel Gardiner), who beat Anestik to win the England pentathlon title indoors this year.
Rebecca Wright (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies, Tony Jarrett) leads the UK pentathlon rankings for 2022 with 2978. That was without the javelin, so if she can find something near her 35m PB (587), she could be around the score which gained gold last year. It’s a similar story for Jessica Howells (Guildford & Godalming, Andrew Fisher), who is ranked fifth in pentathlon this year and has a 38m javelin best.
Scotland’s Hannah McDermott, who is third on the UK pentathlon rankings, could be another contender. Sadie Parker (Blyth, Daniel Njai-Rowney) will be looking for another medal to add to her indoor bronze this spring. Sadie Madigan (Liverpool Harriers, Mike Holmes) climbs an age group and will be hoping to improve on her ninth from last year.
Several sprints events for under-18s are being held on Sunday to provide extra competition and offer chances to gain qualifying marks for the international age-group championships.
Of prime concern will be the European Athletics U18 championships in Jerusalem next month, for which this weekend is the final opportunity within the qualifying window. Some athletes are also eligible for the World Junior Athletics Championships in Cali, although qualification for that is up for grabs until next month.
In the 100m, Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (Harrow) already has the standard for Jerusalem. However, she has been denied the World Juniors qualification mark (11.60) three times this season by the wind, once by a strong wind against and twice due to the wind speed being over the allowable limit. Renee Regis (BFT Track Academy, Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai) and Trezeguet Taylor (Trafford, Andrew Wood) are two other strong sprinters in that event.mDejaune Linguard (Cambridge H, Ryan Freckleton) heads the 100m line-up with his 10.53 PB from last year.
After her recent 13.45 PB to lead the European U18 rankings in the 100m hurdles, Mia McIntosh will line up with no such qualification concerns. Arabella Wilson (Winchester & District, Kingston) and Stephanie Okoro (Havering, Tony Benton) lead the way in the 400m hurdles line-up, having both gained the qualifier.
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