Indoor age group championships heading for Sheffield

The England Athletics U20, U17 and U15 championships come to Sheffield this weekend with some superb competition in prospect. While some of the U20 athletes are already making an impact at higher levels of competition the younger age groups are also seeing some strong talent coming through with the championships providing an important development opportunity as well as national medals contested.

Here we take a look at some of those to watch. But a strong part of the interest in these championships is watching new names emerging to make an impact and the rankings lists given some serious re-writing as athletes look to turn their fitness into championship form.

U20 men

A 6.65 by Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff, Helen Patricia James) at the Muller Grand Prix at Birmingham means that he could be one to watch in the 60m. Both Brandon Mingeli (Cambridge H, Jake Awe) and Shevhone Lumsden (Enfield & Haringey, Benjamin Davies) have 6.84 clockings to their names. With England Athletics U20 100m champion Chad Miller (Hercules Wimbledon, Ryan Freckleton) also having run 6.85 the competition for medals could be a great one to watch. Azu also goes in the 200m as does Fraser Angus (Giffnock North, Ryan McAllister) who heads the rankings in that event with 21.54.

In the 60m hurdles the top four ranked athletes are all entered and with three of them having come in the top five in this championship last year they are likely to want to improve on their positions. Joshua Zeller (Bracknell AC, Ken Spencer) is top ranked with 7.78 and was last year’s silver medallist. The fourth placer last year, Sam Bennett (Basildon, Steven Surety) has run 7.81 in 2019 to rank ahead of the 7.88 of Tre Thomas (Charnwood, Eliska Binks) and the 7.93 of Jack Sumners (Stratford-upon-Avon, Paul Bearman) who was fifth last year.

In the 800m Yusuf Bizimana (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, Jeffery Nkrumah) and Callum Dodds (Enfield & Haringey, John Wildman) go head-to-head again. Given the two both clocked 1:51.21 performances in the same heat of the British Championships having already gone 1-2 in the Southern Indoor U20 Championships there is little to choose between them, a good race in prospect and no doubt others will be vying to get right in the mix for the medals.

Last year Dominic Ogbechie (Marius Guei, John Herbert) jumped an age group world record of 2.22 in the U17 high jump. He has won a range of honours including English Schools AA gold at 200m, and British Athletics senior indoor silver at high jump. He’s back at the England Athletics indoor age group championships this year to contest the U20 long jump. While he has not competed in the event this winter his best stands at 7.53, a UK and championship record at last year’s indoor championships. But against him will be Alessandro Schenini (Giffnock North AAC, David Watson/Ryan Mcallister) whose 7.56 PB at the weekend is the furthest by an U20 this winter, Stephen Mackenzie (Pitreavie AAC, Linda Nicholson) who is also over 7.50 this winter with 7.51, plus the likes of Calum Henderson (Edinburgh AC, John Scott & Anne Scott) with 7.15 and an outdoor 7.35. The U20 shot will see Lewis Byng (Stratford-upon-Avon, Stuart Carlaw) in action. Lewis has improved his best to 18.03 this winter and it will be interesting to see if he can improve on this mark.

U20 women

The sprints at these championships are often thrillers and the U20 women’s 60m looks like it could be an intriguing race. With Amy Hunt (Charnwood AC, Joseph McDonnell) and Lauren Roy (City of Lisburn, Adam McMullen) both having run 7.39 this winter they will also come up against Cassie-Ann Pemberton (Birchfield H, Sharon Morris) who has a 7.45 which puts her third on the rankings. The 200m looks no less competitive with top four ranked Kiah Dubarry-Gay (Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC, Lloyd Cowan), Amber Anning (Brighton & Hove AC, Lloyd Cowan), Jazmine Moss (Gateshead Harriers & AC, Bruce Horsburgh) and Georgina Adam (Lincoln Wellington Athletic Club, Jonas Dodoo) coming in with bests of 24.01, 24.34, 24.35 and 24.43 respectively. With Lauren Roy and Cassie-Ann Pemberton entered in both the 60m and 200m they too could make an impact in the long sprint. The 60m hurdles sees a strong line up with the top three for 2019 all set to contest the title - Holly Mills (Andover AC, Laura Turner-Alleyne, 8.42), Marcia Sey (Croydon Harriers, Lorna Boothe) and Jenna Blundell (Team Bath Athletic Club, Julie Alexander). Last year’s silver medallist Pippa Earley (Kingston & Poly Harriers, John Shepherd/Piotr Spas) is also entered.

Isabelle Boffey (Enfield & Haringey, Luke Gunn) has a swift 2:04.14 to her name this winter - which is only 0.14 off her impressive 800m outdoor best. Having just added the British Universities title to her name she will be coming into the championships confident. But second ranked Emily Thompson (Banbury, Ros Kelling) with be among those looking to mix it up at the front. Thompson is also entered in the 1500 where, based on performances this winter, she looks a strong candidate for the title.

The long jump competition is one towatch. Lucy Hadaway (City of York, Matt Barton), Josie Oliarnyk (Halesowen, Dominic McNeillis) and Holly Mills (Andover, Laura Turner-Alleyne) are 1-2-3 in the rankings with indoor bests this year of 6.29, 6.16 and 6.16 respectively. With all having leapt over 6.30 outdoors the 6.30 championship record of Katarina Johnson-Thompson could even be under threat. The high jump could also be a close battle with Ashleigh West (Graham Ravenscroft, Medway & Maidstone) and Merechi 'Shaka' Egbo (Herts Phoenix, Roger Armorgie) joint top of the 2019 rankings on 1.76 and a 1.75 jumper in Hannah Moat (Scunthorpe, David Walker) also in the line-up. In the triple jump Claudimira Landim (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, Keith Fleming) comes in as the top ranked athlete with 12.78.

U17 men

The top three in the 60m hurdles are closely bunched with Elliott Harris (Birchfield H, Anthony Pitt), Freddie Fraser (Nene Valley, Alan Sims) and Cole Williams (Stratford-upon-Avon, Paul Bearman) having run 8.10, 8.12 and 8.14 respectively all entered.

Henry Johnson (Houghton Harriers, Lynn Cooper) looks a strong candidate for the 1500m title and his PB set in early January of 3:57.91 is only just shy of the Championship Record. The distance events can be tactical affairs but we have also seen some swift races - if the pace is on from the gun that record could be under threat.

Last year saw the incredible leap of 2.22 by Dominic Ogbechie in the high jump and this year Sam Brereton (Newquay & Par, Clive Marsh) comes into the championships with a best of 2.09. In the long jump Archie Yeo (Scunthorpe, David Harmes/ Martin Bishell) will be looking to turn his 7.33 at the top of the rankings into a national title to go with the outdoor triple jump gold and long jump silver he won last year. Also over 7m this year is Murray Fotheringham (Giffnock North) with 7.08. Reuben Nairne (Glasgow City) has a 31cm advantage at the top of the rankings and this year’s Scottish U17 title to his name in the pole vault.

Deshawn Lascelles (Cambridge & Coleridge, Benjamin Davies) currently has a 45cm margin as the best of British in rankings for this age group at triple jump rankings, courtesy of his 14.85 at the South of England championships. But the likes of Daniel Falode (Cambridge H, Guy Spencer, 14.40) and Archie Yeo will be looking to make an impact in that event too.

U17 women

Abigail Pawlett (Stockport, Joe Frost) is potentially in contention for medals across three events. A best of 5.90 means she leads the rankings in the long jump but with just a centimetre advantage over Ellie O'Hara (Edinburgh AC, Linda Nicholson) the competition is set to be a good one. In the 60m hurdles it is Lucy Jane Matthews (Southampton AC, Andrew Fisher/James Coney) who is the current number one ing with 8.58 to Abigail’s 8.63. Marli Jessop (Dacorum & Tring AC, Brian Hopkins) has run 8.68 and Yasmin Uwakwe (Enfield & Haringey AC, Brian Hopkins) 8.70, so they too could feature at the front of an event with the top 10 for 2019 all entered. The high jump sees Abigail top ranked with 1.73 as Georgina Scoot (Torbay AAC, Steve Cottle) has jumped 1.70 and Abbey Orr (Victoria Park City of Glasgow, John Melvin/Colin Speirs) a 1.68 in 2019. Sophie Ashurst (Sale Harriers Manchester, Andy Ashurst) has improved her PB to 3.91 this winter and will be looking to post another strong performance in the pole vault.

The shot promises to be an interesting battle. Top of the rankings and fourth in the British senior championships was Sarah Omoregie (Cardiff AAC, Gareth Lease) with a mark of 14.77. One place behind her at the British Championships was second ranked U20 (14.67) Serena Vincent (City Of Portsmouth AC (A Vincent/Bronwin Carter) and sixth placed was Hannah Molyneaux (City of Sheffield & Dearne AC, Malcolm Fenton) who has a mark of 13.94 this year.

U15 boys

The younger age group is the one where things can change most quickly with athlete emerging and learning their craft at championships competition. This means it is definitely one to look out for those athletes making their improvements rather than reading too much into rankings, and those lower down the positions but still developing well are often those to emerge as they move through the age groups. At 800m Oscar Logan (Law, Patrick Kelly) will go head-to-head with Jake Minshull (Coventry) as the two currently stand 1-2 on the rankings with 2:01.27 and 2:02.02 respectively.

There could be close competition in the high jump with Sammy Ball (Reading AC, Mike Dyer) coming into the championships weekend with a best of 1.81 as Luke Ball (Yate & District AC, Jeremy Dale) is just 1cm off that mark with an outdoor 1.84 to his name, and Connor McNally (Glasgow School of Sport, David Watson) has jumped 1.78.

U15 girls

Success Eduan (Sale Harriers Manchester, Anita Richardson) has already set a UK best of 24.38 this winter and is likely to impress in the 200m. In the 60m hurdles the top seven ranked athletes are all entered with Mia McIntosh (Dacorum & Tring, Deborah Keenleyside) heading the rankings on 8.87 just ahead of the 8.90 of Sophia Deans (Birchfield H, Sharon Morris).

In the 800m Ruby Simpson (Hallamshire, Steven Marshall) heads the 2019 list with her indoor best of 2:15.62 but an outright PB of 2:15.65 by Amarisa Sibley (Blackheath & Bromley, Phillip Kissi) run indoors at Lee Valley in January suggests she may be in form to challenge for the title with third and fourth ranked Katie Johnson (Edinburgh AC, 2:16.01) and Emma Shipley (Hallamshire, Steven Marshall, 2:16.76) also likely to be very much hunting for the medals.

Find out more about the weekend