Not for nothing is the New Balance English Schools' AA Championships known as the “kids’ Olympics”. Hundreds of youngsters on the opening day at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, produced high-quality performances at an event run like clockwork.
Among the highlights were two championships records in a session when the only finals to take place were in the field.
Impressively, the first three in the junior girls’ shot went over the previous championship record mark. The event has moved to different weights of implements in recent years but the marks nevertheless replace a record from 2014. Cleo Agyepong (Kent, Cambridge Harriers) led them with 13.19m with Lily Carlaw (Northamptonshire, Northampton, Stuart Carlaw) taking silver on 13.11m and Erin Lobley (South Yorkshire, Hallamshire, Joe Frost) winning bronze with 13.08m. Similarly in the intermediate shot, the 2014 record with the newer implements was dismantled. Here it was Nana Gyedu (London, Blackheath & Bromley, Paul Dickenson) who put 15.06m to revise the mark by 14cm. She was a massive distance ahead of Omolola Kuponiyi (Essex), who took silver with 13.90m. Serena Vincent (Hampshire, City of Portsmouth, Bronwin Carter) warmed up for her appearance for Britain at the European Under-20 Championships next weekend with victory in the senior girls’ shot put with 14.55m. The athlete who finished fourth at the European Youth Championships last year, was followed in second by Hannah Molyneaux (Lincolnshire, Sheffield & Dearne, Malcolm Fenton) on 14.01m and Alexandrea Adeniji (Essex, Chelmsford, Geoff Tyler) on 13.07m.
Charlotte Payne (Berkshire, Newbury, Paul Dickenson) continued her run at the top - intermediate gold last year and the senior hammer title this year with 57.53m. The England under-20 champion was joined on the podium by silver medallist Tara Simpson-Sullivan (Cumbria, Wigan & District, Robert Halliwell), who threw 54.66m, and Phoebe Baggot (Staffordshire, Wolverhampton & Bilston, Steve Pearson), who achieved 53.76m. Sam Mace (Surrey, Walton, Paul Dickenson), who has taken silver the last two years, added to his 2015 title with victory in the senior boys’ hammer. His mark of 63.12m was 99cm better than that of runner-up Shaun Kerry (Humb, Kingston upon Hull, Dave Smith) as Harry Ilyk (Nottinghamshire, Notts, Rob Careless) took bronze on 59.27m.
Sam Brereton (Cornwall, Newquay & Par, Clive Marsh) continued his excellent form after winning the national under-20 title last month, clearing 2.10m to win the intermediate high jump, a height which bettered the senior winning mark. He had three unsuccessful attempts at a would-be championship record of 2.13m. Silver went to Charlie Knott (Cambridgeshire, Cambridge & Coleridge, Carol Jackson) with 1.96m and bronze to Lionel Owona-Bunung (Berkshire, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) with 1.93m. Jack Ennis (Surrey, Croydon, Mike Fleet) equalled his outdoor PB to take the senior title with 2.07m. Kelechi Aguocha (Kent, Blackheath & Bromley, John Herbert) cleared 2.04m and Jack Norton (Surrey, City of Portsmouth, Phillip Budd) 2.01m for silver and bronze respectively. Meanwhile, Luke Ball (Avon, Yate, Jeremy Dale) won the junior event, achieving a best of 1.87m. Team-mates Jamaal Darlington (London, Thames Valley) and Noor Eldin Mahmoud (London, Thames Valley) both went home with silvers as they shared second on 1.78m.
Melissa Booth (Manchester, Sale Harriers, Keith Hunter) was just 7cm below the championship record in the intermediate girls’ triple jump, recording 12.15m. Team-mate Holly Aitchison (Stockport, Joe Frost) was second with 11.95m.
Sophie Ashurst (Manchester, Sale Harriers Manchester, Andy Ashurst) lived up to her favourite’s tag in the intermediate girls’ pole vault. Clearing a best of 3.80m, she repeated her win here from 2017.
Zack Grinsted (Beds, Luton, Geoff Capes) set a PB of 43.50m to win the junior boys’ discus. Second was Joshua Schrijver (Hamp, Bristol & West, Paul Filer) with 41.00m and bronze went to Travis Scottow (Hampshire, Southampton, David Callaway) with 40.54m. James Wordsworth (Northumberland, North Shields Poly, Neil Ellerby) was just outside his best in winning the intermediate boys’ discus. His 49.26m put him just 8cm ahead of runner-up Edward Fileman (Devon Tavistock, Clive Thomson), while Rhys Allen (Hampshire, Southampton, David Callaway) took bronze with 46.65m. Samantha Callaway (Hampshire, Southampton, David Callaway) with 48.82m and Alice Brown (Essex, Havering, Pat Gahagan) with 40.95m) took senior and intermediate gold respectively in the discus.
Adding more than five metres to his best was javelin thrower Christopher Jones-Parker (Hampshire, City of Portsmouth, Bronwin Carter), who recorded 55.97m for junior boys’ gold to go to the top of the UK under-15 rankings for the year. Liam Cawley (Hampshire, Team Kennet) took silver with 54.98m and James Pratt (Sussex, Crawley, Richard Pilling) bronze with 52.26m. Also setting new figures was Adam Lloyd (Shropshire Telford), whose 60.87m represented a revision by almost a metre. Stepping up from 10th at his last appearance in the championships two years ago, in a tight competition, he was ahead of runner-up Luke Robinson (North Yorkshire, Stretford, Paul Wilksinon), who marked up 59.65m, and Bradley James (Essex Havering, Sam Harrison), who threw 59.31m.
No winners were more convincing today than triple jumper Daniel Falode (London, Cambridge H, Guy Spencer). In his first English Schools', he was just short of his PB from winning the England under-20 title recently as he recorded 15.27m. This was 1.26m further than that of silver medallist Michael Anderson (Surrey, Kingston Poly, John Shepherd), while Aaron Ashmead (Essex, Newham & Essex Beagles) won bronze with 14.00m.
In the intermediate boys’ pole vault final which kicked off proceedings, George Hopkins (Surrey, Woking, Nick Phipps) took gold with 4.30m. Will Foot (Derby, Chesterfield, Nathan Pentin) and Bryce Breen (Herts both cleared 4.20m for silver and bronze respectively. Later Glenn Morris (Essex, Enfield & Haringey, John Mahon) won the junior event with 3.80m. Ben Platt (Kent, Blackheath & Bromley, John Wakeman) in second and Noah Jones (Devon, City of Plymouth) third both cleared 3.50m.
With just two centimetres between the two leading contenders on PBs in the junior girls’ long jump, it was always going to be close. It was Seren Rodgers (Somerset, Taunton, Steve Shaw) who came out on top, recording 5.41m to the 5.34m of Katy Beadle (Surrey, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, Keith Fleming). Bronze medallist was Tilly Mycroft (Derby, Sheffield & Dearne, Lilly Mycroft) with 5.33m. Another close battle came in the intermediate girls’ javelin. Elizabeth Korczak (Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Bob Willows) proved the stronger with a 47.70m throw which challenged her PB. Harriette Mortlock (Essex, Basildon) took silver with 47.47m. Jerel Livingston (Manchester, Trafford, Tom Cullen) was just 5cm to the good of Archie Yeo (Humberside) in winning the intermediate long jump with 6.89m. Emily Race (Notts, Worksop) comfortably won the senior high jump with a best of 1.78m.
Joel Townley (Gloucestershire, Gloucester, Joanne Willoughby), who won silver here last year, was a clear winner of the senior triple jump, recording 14.39m. Sharing the same distance of 13.99m were Morgan Hayward (Sussex) and Josh Woods (Hertfordshire), silver and bronze winners respectively). In the junior boys’ event, the two favourites, Kresten Calvert (Merseyside,Wirral, Pamela Green) and Chris Brown (Essex, Havering, Tony Benton), lined up evenly matched. However, Brown, who was second on the rankings, added 39cm to his PB with 13.25m to narrowly upstage Calvert, who jumped 13.11m. Daniel Kanu (Kent) took bronze with 12.77m.
Closing out the day in front of a small and loyal crowd, the senior pole vault was won by Glen Quayle (Leicestershire, Cardiff, Henrietta Paxton) with 4.80m, adding 37cm to his best.
Whetting our appetites for tomorrow’s track finals were a number of good performance in the sprints and middle-distance. Among these, Lewis Sullivan (Suffolk, St Edmunds Pacers), English Schools' cross-country junior winner this year, was quickest to progress to the final of the junior boys’ 1500m with 4:15.11. In the sprints, Praise Olalere (Lincolnshire, Grantham, Ian Richards) was another to impress with 10.76 to be quickest to go through to the senior boys’ 100m final. Toby Makoyawo (Hertfordshire, Watford, Peter Griffiths) was quickest in the 200m.
Photo by Mark Shearman