High class athletics returns to the North West on Wednesday (15th August) with the Manchester International 2018.
The match, which is in its third year, promises terrific entertainment, as teams from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, BAL/UKWL (British Athletic League / UK Women's League), GB Juniors and Iceland battle on the track and in the field. As ever, a celebrity competition will also take place, adding to the spectacle in store. We take a look at some of the anticipated action at the Manchester Regional Arena.
Kimberly Baptiste (Crawley), who looked unstoppable on the Manchester track last month as she completed a 100m/200m double at the English Senior Championships, will be in action in both sprint distances. In the 100m, she will race against Kristal Awuah (Herne Hill, Matthew Thomas), who since claiming world U20 bronze in Tampere has improved her PB to 11.20. Adding further depth will be Hannah Brier (Swansea, Steve Fudge), who took English champs silver behind Baptiste.
In the 200m, Baptiste leads the entrants courtesy of her season’s best of 23.55. Her stiffest challenge could come from English Schools champion Kiah Dubarry-Gay (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, Alf Vickers), who is in PB shape this year with 23.90.
Andrew Robertson (Sale, Sam Robertson) is also set to return. Last month he impressed to claim the English 100m title in a windy 10.06. His rivals this time will include John Otugade (Shaftesbury Barnet/UCL), who has been in 10.4 shape across recent weekends, and Jamaican Travane Morrison, who ran a PB 10.41 in Cork in July.
Also with fond recent memories of the Manchester track is Jessica Judd (Blackburn/Loughborough Students, Mick Judd), winner of the English 1500m and 5000m titles. She leads the 1500m entries, but Rachel Gibson (North Down, Francis Marsh) and Erin Wallace (Giffnock North, Dudley Walker) have both shown personal best form this season and will provide a stiff challenge.
With seven of the eight entrants running under 14-second this year, the women's 100m hurdles be one of the dramatic races of the night. Jessica Hunter (Shaftesbury Barnet, Scott Grace), who has improved her PB to 13.33, and Heather Paton (Birchfield H, Andy Paul), who is not far behind with 13.36, are two hoping to prosper in the sharp field.
The men's 800m includes Australian Joshua Ralph, who has clocked 1:46 this year. He should have no shortage of challengers, as five more of the entrants have gone sub-1:50 in 2018. They are led by Max Burgin (Halifax, Brian Gurgin), who won European U18 gold earlier this year in a PB 1:47.36.
A good race can also be expected in the women’s two-lapper, as Mari Smith (Birchfield H, Bud Baldaro) and Mhairi Hendry (Victoria Park City of Glasgow, William Parker), who went 1-2 at BUCS this year, will resume their rivalry.
The women’s javelin is another one to watch, with four of the country’s top five throwers entered. Besides Emma Hamplett (Birchfield H, Michael McNeill), Bethan Rees (Cannock & Stafford), Hannah Johnson (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, David Parker) and Bekah Walton (Blackheath & Bromley, David Turner), F46 Paralympic champion Hollie Arnold (David Turner) is also set for the contest.
There is class elsewhere in the throws. European Championships seventh-placer Sophie McKinna (Great Yarmouth, Mike Winch) leads the shot put entries, while Berlin finallist Jade Lally (Shaftesbury Barnet, Zane Duquemin) heads the discus.
On the men’s side, British U20 record holder Jake Norris (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, Paul Dickenson) will battle with Commonwealth Games 10th-placer Chris Bennet (Shaftesbury Barnet, Michael Jones) in the hammer throw.
The men’s long jump could also be hotly-fought. Jack Roach (Newham & Essex Beagles), Adam McMullen (Birchfield H), Reynold Banigo (Sale Harriers Manchester, Lukasz Zawila) and Shandell Taylor (Havering, Trevor Wells) have all recorded marks in the high sevens this season, while Paul Ogun (Croydon, John Shepherd) is capable of that at his best.
Likewise the high jump, where 2.28m man David Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet, Paul Harrison) will have to contend with Dominic Ogbechie (Highgate, Marius Guei), who went over 2.22m indoors in February and has collected the European U18 title since.
Also taking place across the schedule is a celebrity match, organised to raise awareness of the positive impact of sport on mental health.
Manchester’s former world champion boxer Anthony Crolla will lead a team of boxing legends to compete against a rugby league line up commanded by former England international and BBC pundit Eorl Crabtree. The teams will battle head-to-head over 100m, long jump, shot put and 4x100m relay.
On the night, England Athletics will sign a ‘Time to Change’ pledge as a commitment to end mental health stigma.
The programme for the event also includes the England Athletics 10,000m Track Championships, where national honours will be decided across a combined field.
Venue address: Manchester Regional Arena, Rowsley Street, Manchester, M11 3FF.
Tickets are available to purchase in advance here: Manchesterinternationalathletics.co.uk.