Get set for the Age Group champs this weeken

This weekend sees the last of our summer 2016 track and field champs, with the England Athletics Under 17 and Under 15 and Disability Age Group Athletics Championships in Bedford. This is your chance to watch our senior athletes of the future compete in a full programme of track and field events.

Over a thousand individuals have entered, and many of these are hoping to retain their 2015 titles, progress up the national rankings or have moved up an age group and aiming to achieve at the next step up through the ranks.

The U15 events are set to provide great competition; in the girl’s events, the number one nationally ranked athlete has entered all but one event. Highlights are likely to be in the jumps with some talented athletes entered in the high jump and long jump, and the introduction this year of the triple jump including an 11m jumper entered. The high jump line-up includes our 3 new Hexathlon medallists, indoor champion and national number 1.

The sprint hurdles should also provide an excellent final with the top 3 entered, plus all the medallists from the indoor 60 hurdles. For the U15 boys’ events, ones to watch are likely to be the sprint hurdles, and on the field the pole vault and long jump. Both these events have great spectator vantage points at the Bedford stadium where you can be really close to the action. The three indoor pole vault medallists will be hoping to add an outdoor title, and our Octathlon bronze medallist (who easily won the pole vault last weekend) is also entered. Some U15 athlete champions still have another year in this age group, others are having a second go at a medal - especially in the boys’ javelin, triple jump, pole vault, hammer and 1500m and girls’ hammer, discus, shot, pole vault, 800m and 200m.

A number of U15 Age Group winners will be aiming for an U17 gold - Pippa Earley (Club: Kingston AC & Poly Harriers, Coach: John Shepherd) won both the sprint hurdles and long jump last year. Amaya Scott (Club: Southampton AC, Coach: Andrew Fisher) took the high jump title last year and is ranked number 3 in her new age group, and Hannah Molyneaux (Club: Nene Valley Harriers, Coach: Geoff Capes) holds the ESAA, U15 outdoor and U17 indoor shot titles and the U15 gold which she won in a new CBP. Amaya is up against indoor champion Rebecca Hawkins (Club: Bexley AC, Coach: John Bancroft) and number 1 ranked and last year’s U17 silver medallist Natasha Smith (Club: Stroud AC, Coach: Kerry Eddie-Jury). U15 boys who have become U17 men and are hoping to make an impression at the next agre group up include William Hughes (Club: Nene Valley Harriers) in the 200m and Adam Bator-Brown (Club: Guildford & Godalming, Coach: Tony Mitchell) in the 400m, U15 outdoor and U17 indoor shot champion George Hyde (Club: West Cheshire AC) and Zakariya Mahamed (Club: Southampton AC, Coach: Peter Haynes) will hope to be in the U17 3000m mix.

Jona Efoloko (Club: Sale Harriers Manchester, Coach: John Smith) will want to retain both his 100m and 200m titles from the U17 competition last year; he ran a CBP in the 200m. He also took indoor gold plus silver in the indoor 60m where he was beaten by Tyrese Johnson-Fisher (Club: Croydon Harriers, Coach: Steve Fudge) who is also entered and will be looking to make his mark. At the other end of the track spectrum, Chris Snook (Club: Aldershot Farnham & District, Coach: Verity Snook) will be wanting to retain his 5000m walk title but U15 winner Benjamin Allen (Club: Leicester Walking Club) in the walk is now an U17.

Joel Khan (Club: Worcester AC, Coach: Deirdre Elmhirst) won the U17 high jump last year and came in 2nd behind recent decathlon silver medallist Joshua Hewett (Club: Liverpool Harriers & AC, Coach: Grant Brown). Who will take the title this time? Thomas Hewes (Club: Chelmsford AC, Coach: Philip Sergeant) is the indoor silver medallist, and 4th ranked Kai Finch (Club: Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton H AC, Coach: Dave McComb) will be close on their heels.

Women hoping to regain their U17 titles include Amber Anning (Club: Brighton & Hove AC, Coach: Stephen King) who is still ranked number 1 in the 300m, and Molly Caudery (Cornwall AC, Coach: Stuart Caudery) who holds both indoor and outdoor U17 pole vault titles. A high quality field in this event will see a fierce battle for the vault medals though. In the long jump, indoor and outdoor champion and 5th nationally over all ages Holly Mills (Club: Andover AC, Coach: James Coney) heads up a fantastic field which also includes Lucy Hadaway (Club: City of York AC, Coach: Matt Barton) who was 5th in the recent U17 Heptathlon, silver indoor and outdoor long jump medals, U15 champion Pippa Earley. Last year’s 4th placed Isabel Wakefield (Club: North Devon AC, Coach: Garry Gahan) will be hoping to get into the medals in her second year at this age group.

Holly and Pippa are likely to be head-to-head in the sprint hurdles final as well - Holly the indoor champion earlier this year and Pippa the U15 champion last year. Also likely to be an exciting head-to-head is in the triple jump, where number one Claudimira Landim (Club: Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC, Coach: Kelvin Richards) takes on indoor champion Adelaide Omitowoju (Club: Cambridge & Coleridge AC, Coach: Morace Park). It is likely to be a fantastic men’s competition too with all three indoor medallists up against Wesley Matsuka-Williams (Club: City of Norwich AC, Coach: Denis Costello) who is ranked number one this year and took silver last year.

The U17 men’s long jump is no exception in the top field event to watch over for each age group; entered are the top 7 in the country, including U17M Heptathlon medallist, indoor top five and including last year’s bronze medallist Elliott Thorne (Club: Slough Junior AC, Coach: Daniel Sawyers) who is one of three who have leaped beyond 7 metres. Many of the indoor 80m hurdlers have entered for the 100 hurdles, with number 1 and indoor champion Tré Thomas (Club: Charnwood AC, Coach: Eliska Binks) leading the pack on PBs which includes U15 80m hurdles champion Zakariya Mahamed (Club: Southampton AC, Coach: Peter Haynes).

Ellis Greatrex (Club: Wolverhampton & Bilston, Coach: Claudio Albanese) will want to turn last year’s 400m silver to gold, as will Alastair Chalmers (Club: Guernsey Island AAC, Coach: Dale Garland) in the one lap hurdles and Alex Botterill (Club: City of York AC, Coach: Ian Wilcock) in the 800m – although he’s up against U15 winner Joshua Hulse (Club: Ipswich Harriers, Coach: Eric Phillips). Indeed, the entries for the 800m are extremely matched on times, promising a close race. Also close and over a longer distance is the men’s 3000m with the top five U17 men in the country all entered - and including four of the top five performers in last year’s U15 competition.

Both Katy-Ann McDonald (Club: Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC, Coach: Phillip Kissi) and Isabelle Boffey (Club: Enfield & Haringey AC, Coach: Douglas Stone) recently ran at the Manchester International and the 800m final should be a close exciting race with Anna Burt (Club: Team Bath AC, Coach: Kevin Brunt) and Erin Wallace’s (Club: Giffnock North AAC, Coach: Dudley Walker) PBs also within 4 tenths of a second.

In the throws, the women’s hammer sees a large field attempting to emulate recent Rio bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon (Club: Blackburn, Coach: Tore Gustafsson) who in fact held the CBP a few years ago. It’s been broken twice since so could it be a hat trick of new records in this event - Katie Head (Club: Newham & Essex Beagles AC, Coach: Paul Head) has already thrown further than the 2015 CBP. With 63m+ throwers Olivia Stevenson (Club: Kingston upon Hull AC, Coach: Dave Smith), Tara Simpson-Sullivan (Club: Carlisle Aspatria AC, Coach: John Little) and U15 silver medallist Jade Williams (Club: Wrexham AAC) in the mix it should provide a great competition. Also watch out for Bayley Campbell (Club: Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow AC, Coach: Paul Dickenson) who is getting very close to the 70m barrier in the men’s hammer.

In the disability events which include competition for ambulant and wheelchair athletes, racing and seated throws, there is a huge range of ages and classifications taking part. There is likely to be close competition in the T33 and 34 and T54 wheelchair races, with many top ranked for their age and classification entered - including Under 18s Jack Agnew (T54, Club: Lagan Valley AC, Coach: Heather Ardis) and Jamie Edwards (T33, Club: Yeovil/Weir Archer Academy, Coach: Jenny Slade).

We also welcome special guest John WIllis, who will be competing as a hammer thrower as part of his Power2Inspire Road2Rio challenge. John has no lower arms or legs and is aiming to take part in every Olympic and Paralympic sport. Click here to read more.