British Olympic, world, and Commonwealth Games 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson (coach: Trevor Painter; club: Leigh) will be the star attraction at the England Athletics Under-23 and Under-20 Championships in Chelmsford this weekend (June 17-18).
Hodgkinson, who will step down to 400m in the U23s category, is among an impressive line-up for the meeting which also includes Abigail Ives, Jeremiah Azu, Ed Faulds, Ethan Hussey, and Charlotte Payne.
Athletes will be trying to secure selection for both the European Athletics U20 Championships in Jerusalem (August 7-9) and the European Athletics U23 Championships in Espoo (July 13-16). The winners will be automatically selected if they have the qualifying standard or go on to do so within the qualifying window. Up to three can be selected in each event.
U18 events also feature this weekend in what is an exciting two-day timetable to provide extra competitive opportunities with the Commonwealth Youth Games this summer in Trinidad and Tobago (August 4-11).
The meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube:
One week after improving her UK record to 1:55.77 on her season debut in the Paris Diamond League, Keely Hodgkinson has picked this event for her first outing this summer over one lap of the track.
The Leigh Harrier ran her PB of 52.41 last year and has since set an outright national 600m best indoors. Christine Ohuruogu’s championship record of 52.43 is clearly under threat.
Her heat is due to take place on Saturday afternoon, although, with only 10 athletes entered, there is a chance it could be a straight final. Hodgkinson is no stranger to England Athletics championships, having won U17 gold in 2017 and both the U20 and U17 titles the year afterwards.
Natasha Harrison (Alex O’Gorman; Kingston upon Hull), who has a best of 52.87, is likely to pose the biggest challenge.
In the women’s hammer, Charlotte Payne (Paul Dickenson; Reading) is around 10m ahead of her nearest rival in the line-up. Payne, who is ranked second on the European U23 rankings with 72.51m, will be looking to add to her U20 and U23 titles in these championships over the last two years.
Serena Vincent (Andrew Vincent, City of Portsmouth), who is ranked fourth in Europe in the U23 shot, is outright favourite in Chelmsford, whilst Lauren Farley (Mark Chapman; Blackheath & Bromley) is similarly a strong favourite in the women’s javelin after her big improvement this season to 56.73m.
Multi-eventer Abigail Pawlett (Ashley Bryant; Trafford) will compete in the 100m hurdles, the event in which she will represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the European Team Championships.
The current UK No.1 will be joined by recent England heptathlon champion Jodie Smith (Ashley Bryant; Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) and hurdles specialist Jenna Blundell (David Norton; Bristol & West).
Leading the field in the women’s 1500m is Alexandra Millard (Bill Foster; Invicta East Kent). She is sixth quickest U23 in Europe this year with her PB of 4:11.78.
In the women’s 5000m, Scottish athletes Eloise Walker and Megan Keith are first and third respectively on those European rankings and they will be favourites here over twelve and a half laps.
Steeplechaser Sarah Tait is another coming south of the border with high hopes as her best of 10:00.49 puts her well clear of the rest of the field.
European 100m bronze medallist and UK senior champion Jeremiah Azu (Marco Airale; Cardiff) has double BUCS champion David Morgan-Harrison as his likely closest challenger.
The latter is also in the men’s 200m, which features England U20 100m and 200m champion Jeriel Quainoo (Ryan Freckleton; Blackheath & Bromley). While Quainoo ran 20.40 to win the UK senior bronze medal last year, James Hanson (Jake Awe; Woking) is fastest this season with 20.69.
European junior champion Ed Faulds (James Wright; Rugby & Northampton) highlights the men’s 400m, although he is only marginally quickest of the entrants behind Scotland’s Brodie Young, who has improved to 45.82 Stateside this year.
European Indoors relay representative Sam Reardon (Nigel Stickings; Blackheath & Bromley) is entered for both the men’s 400m and 800m and would be a contender in either.
In the longer event, world junior bronze medallist Ethan Hussey will start after his recent PB of 1:45.71. However, Reece Sharman-Newell (Dave Regan; Basingstoke & Mid Hants) ran 1:45.54 last weekend.
Hussey could also line up in the men’s 1500m, where Scots such as Kane Elliott, Benjamin MacMillan and Joe Ewing could be strong.
Chukwuemeka Osammor (James Taylor; Sheffield & Dearne) will be a big favourite to defend his discus title.
Kelechi Aguocha (Adam Gallie; Blackheath & Bromley) is back to defend his high jump title. Dominic Obgechi (Marius Guei; Highgate) will be looking for the 2.22m form that gave him the European U18 gold in 2018.
Ed Bird (Mark Pauley; Poole AC) headlines a small 3000m men’s line-up. James Dargan (Mick Woods; Aldershot, Farnham & District), Corey Campbell (Scotland) and Bradley Giblin (Trafford) are also entered, having secured the Jerusalem qualifying standard. Harper and Dargan are also on the start lists for the 5000m.
In the men’s 400m, Charlie Carvell (Stewart Marshall; Telford) has run a PB of 46.48 this season to lie second on the European rankings on his return to action after missing most of last year. Good overseas competition for him comes from Australia’s Timothy Sanki, who has run within four tenths of Carvell’s time.
Defending 400m hurdles champion Onyeka Okoh (Julie Pratt-Benterman; Chelmsford) set a British age-17 record of 50.95 at the World Juniors last year and faces strong opposition from the improved Sam Lunt (Andrew Fraser, Wirral).
In the pole vault, Lazarus Benjamin (Sale) is looking for his third straight U20 title and is comfortably clear of his peers with his PB of 5.30m, which would take him to fourth best in his age group in Europe if he could replicate that this weekend.
In the 100m, Sean Anyaogu (Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai; BFT Track Academy) is quickest on 2023 times with his recent PB of 10.47, hoping to improve on his fifth of last year.
Michael Onilogbo (Carl Graham; Newham & Essex Beagles), however, ran 10.38 last year, a season in which he won silver in these championships.
Last year’s U17 champion Teddy Wilson (Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai; BFT Track Academy) should also be a contender whilst Ebuka Nwokeji (Ty Holden; Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) will also be one to watch.
David Race (Kyle Bennett; Gateshead) is quickest in the men’s 800m with his PB set this month of 1:47.74 and will be keen to improve on his silver from last year.
Michael Allison (Tom Dobbing; Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow), who went to the World Juniors last year, leads the javelin roster with his 72.34m PB from last month.
Abigail Ives (Luke Gunn; Basildon) is a strong favourite to defend her 800m title, having gone to fourth on the UK all-time junior rankings with 1:59.92 to lie second on the European 2023 list.
In the discus, Zara Obamakinwa (Mark Chapman; Blackheath & Bromley) was over 55m last year to challenge the UK U20 record and will be looking to cement her place on the team for Jerusalem. A PB would leave her second on the European rankings for her age group.
Last year’s one-two in the 100m, Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (Ryan Freckleton; Harrow) and Joy Eze (Michael Donnelly; Gateshead) resume their rivalry. Defending champion Wedderburn-Goodison improved to 11.33 last weekend to rank top in Europe. Last year’s U17 champion Renee Regis (Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai; BFT Track Academy), who has clocked a PB of 11.39 to rank third on the European list, adds to a quality line-up.
The women’s 200m looks just as exciting. Sophie Walton, who ran 23.24 to make the World U20 final last year, is quickest of six who have run under 23.70.
Success Eduan (Anita Richardson; Sale Harriers), who beat her to this title last year is back.
European U18 champion Faith Akinbileje (John Blackie; Blackheath & Bromley), who ran 23.44 last year, will be looking to follow-up on her U17 win from 2022. Regis and Wedderburn-Goodison could be contenders too if they compete in this event after their likely starts in the 100m the previous day.
National and Inter-Counties cross-country champion Innes Fitzgerald (Exeter) and world mountain running champion Jess Bailey (Matt Long; Leven Valley) head the 3000m line-up.
European U18 champion Mia McIntosh (Jake Awe, Harrow) is another who will be looking to challenge for medals at the European U20s, having triumphed in the same city at the U18 equivalent last year. She leads the line-up with her 13.44 PB.
Emily Newnham (Nick Dakin; Shaftesbury Barnet) chases her third consecutive U20 title, having recently set a PB of 57.64. England U17 champion Stephanie Okoro (Tony Benton; Havering) is expected to be her closest challenger.
Prominent among the youth athletes competing will be Noah Hanson (Carl Graham; Newham & Essex Beagles) in the 110m hurdles, Stephanie Okoro (Tony Benton; Havering) and Arabella Wilson (Andrew Fisher; Winchester) in the 400m hurdles, Harriet Wheeler (David McKay; West Cheshire), who is ranked first in the Commonwealth U18 javelin (50.61m), Ayesha Jones (Janina Pownall; Marshall Milton Keynes), who is second in the 2023 Commonwealth U18 javelin (50.53m SB), and Oliver Park (James Wright; Rugby & Northampton) alongside Demari Gumbs (Thomas Presho; Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) in the 400m hurdles.
Warm weather guidance
We’d also like to take this opportunity to share with those attending our guidance for attending events when the weather is hot.
Images by Mark Shearman with the exception of Keely Hodgkinson representing Great Britain (photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for European Athletics)