The track and field both saw superb competitions as Bedford hosted the England Athletics U23 and U20 Championships. With places for the World U20 Championships also being contested, and opportunities for U18s to also post performances ahead of selections being made for the European Youth Championships, the athletes stepped up to produce the goods.
The sprinters put some great performances in, despite the 200m runners facing a wind around the first bend which failed to prevent impressive running.
In the U20 200m Jona Efoloko (Sale Harriers Manchester, John Smith) was up and into his running quickly and came off the bend ahead. But into the straight, as anticipated from form this season and through the rounds, Charlie Dobson (Colchester H, Stephen Garnham) was charging hard and in tenacious mood. As the two battled down the straight, Efoloko held on to win in a new personal best of 20.79, with Dobson clocking 20.88. Bronze was won by Matt Buckner (Bracknell AC, Ken Spencer) in 21.59.
Jona said, “It was quite windy but I knew it was going to be a tough race between me and Charlie. I just had to trust my training, that my top speed would see me through. I usually peak towards the end of the season but I’m running PBs now.” As he came under pressure in the last straight he said he just kept concentration, “Arms, legs, don’t panic, don’t strain and then dip.”
Georgina Adam (Lincoln Wellington, Denise Timmis) held form brilliantly in the home straight of the U20 200m in a time of 23.63 as she overhauled Alisha Rees (Edinburgh AC, Leon Baptiste, 23.83) in the final few strides. Cassie Ann Pemberton (Birchfield Harriers, Sharon Morris) set a big PB of 24.31 to take the bronze medal. Georgina said, “I did a really big PB at Loughborough. Because I raced last week and I started to tense up so [today] in my head I was just thinking ‘relax, relax, relax’ and I can eventually get past her. That’s what I wanted – to come here and to qualify [for the World U20s].”
Shannon Hylton (Blackheath & Bromley, Ryan Freckleton) completed the U23 sprint double with a 23.51 (+0.1). Out fast and leading around the bend she then was able to increase the daylight between herself and the rest of the field down the home straight as Amy Odunaiya (Wrexham, David Norton) came through for silver in 24.43 and Alicia Barrett (Chesterfield & District, Toni Minichiello) secured bronze.
It was a swift 50.71 for Cameron Chalmers (Guernsey, Dale Garland) to claim the U20 400m hurdles final ahead of Alex Knibbs (Amber Valley & Erewash, Nick Dakin), who was also home inside the standard for the World U20s with his 51.11. Seamus Derbyshire (City of Stoke, Derek Yeomans) was the bronze medallist in 52.12.
A time of 51.39 saw Jack Lawrie (Woodford Green Essex Ladies) regain the U23 400 hurdles title he won in 2016. In the U20 race Lauren Williams (Swansea, Wynford Leyshon) ran a person best 59.23 for gold clear of the 59.94 of Orla Brothers (Crawley, Marina Armstrong).
In the U20 high jump it was a win for U17 athlete Dominic Ogbechie (Highgate, Marius Guei / Carol Jackson). Having cleared 2.12 at the first time of asking, he then went on to make a good clearance at 2.16 on the third attempt. The jump was the highest by a European U18 this year but the young athlete is taking things one step at a time, “It went pretty well actually, it was pretty good. The main aim is continuous progression. Step-by-step and stay injury free. I’m still young – continuous progression that’s the aim. I want to have fun.”
The silver went to another U17 athlete – Jack Ennis of Croydon Harriers (Mike Fleet), who went over at 2.05.
Sprint hurdlers were also among those impressive on the second day of the championships. Jessica Hunter (Vale Of Aylesbury, Scott Grace) won U23 women’s 100 Hurdles in 13.33 (+0.9) from Alicia Barrett’s (Chesterfield & District, Toni Minichiello) 13.36 and the 13.42 of Megan Marrs (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow AC, Jerzy Maciukiewicz). The U20 women’s 100m hurdles saw Anastasia Davies (Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC, John Blackie) lower her personal best to 13.75 (+0.8) and go top of the rankings to strike gold ahead of the 13.77 of Molly Scott (St Laurence O’Toole AC, Deidre Scott) with Isabella Hilditch (Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC, John Blackie) also setting a personal best of 13.85. Earlier in qualifying another notable personal best was set by Niamh Emerson (Amber Valley & Erewash, David Feeney) with a wind assisted 13.81 (+2.9).
Jason Nicholson (Gateshead, Janice Kaufman) claimed the U20 sprint hurdles in 13.41 (+2.4) with silver going to Joshua Zeller (Bracknell AC, Ken Spencer) 13.51 as Ethan Akannie (Bexley AC, Jerzy Maciukiewicz, 13.85) won the bronze.
It was anyone’s race coming into the last 100m of the U20 women’s 400m but U17 Hannah Foster (Shaftesbury Barnet, Craig Andrew) was the one who produced the title winning final 100m to come home in 54.98 as Natasha Harrison (Stockport, Alex O’Gorman) also produced a strong last straight to win the silver in 55.20, with bronze going to Emma Alderson (Liverpool Harriers, Stephen Carroll) in 55.70. In the U23 women’s race Hannah Williams (Herts Phoenix, Colin Gaynor) moved into control coming into the home straight and broke the tape to win in 54.04.
Basingstoke’s U17 Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan) produced a superb finish to an exciting race in the U20 400m to take gold in 47.19. With 20 metres remaining Alex Haydock-Wilson (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow, Earl Herbert) had the lead, but both Pattison and Blackheath and Bromley’s Ethan Brown (Lloyd Cowan) finished faster. Brown took silver in 47.21 and Haydock-Wilson’s 47.39 the bronze. Ben Claridge (Abingdon Amblers, James Hillier) emerged from the pack over the last 100m to become England Athletics U23 400m champion in 47.42.
The U20 men’s 800m saw a supercharged finish from City of York’s Alex Botterill (Andrew Henderson), who kicked hard with 110 metres to go to take the title in 1:53.53. Markhim Lonsdale (Crook and District, Keith Lonsdale) had led for much of the race, hitting the bell in 55.00 and making the long run for home. With Alexander Birkett (Kendal, Helen Clitheroe) in close order, it was Botterill who ultimately timed his run to perfection.
In the U23 race, Spencer Thomas (Brighton Phoenix, Jon Bigg) adopted a front running tactic to take control of the first 600 metres, going through 400 metres in 57.21, with Woodford Green and Essex Ladies’ Canaan Solomon (Craig Winrow / Richard Thurston) closing and ultimately matching him stride for stride. With all eyes on that pair, Cardiff’s Joe Reid (Matt Elias) came from a long way back, leaving no margin for error as he surged hard in the final straight, pipping the Brighton man on the line to secure gold in 1:51.91.
In the U20 women’s 800m, Katy Ann McDonald (Blackheath and Bromley, Phillip Kissi) went hard from the gun, building a 20 metre lead by the bell, but by the time the chasing pack had moved level with 100m to go, it was Keely Hodginson (Leigh Harriers, Margaret Galvin) who was in the ascendency, eventually winning in 2:04.41, a world U20 qualifying time, five metres ahead of Isabelle Boffey (Enfield and Haringey, Doug Stone). McDonald took bronze.In the U23 women’s race Mhairi Hendry (Victoria Park City of Glasgow, William Parker) and Ellie Baker (Shaftesbury Barnet, Jon Bigg) enjoyed a close contest, with the Scottish athlete taking the bell in 62.26. The pair were well clear of the chasing pack matching each other until 50 metres remained, at which point Baker moved clear to cross the line in 2:06.51. Kelsey Stewart (Aberdeen, Ken Hogg) pulled clear of the rest for bronze.
The U20 1500m races were both last lap dust-ups as Jake Heyward (Cardiff AAC) charged clear of the field to win the men’s race and secure his place on the team for the World U20 Championships. Ten days after running a 3:39.84 in Oslo, the James Thie-coached athlete never looked threatened as he claimed the title in a 3:54.05. The silver medal went to U18 Thomas Keen (Cambridge and Coleridge, Mark Vile, 3:55.59) who had turned 17 the day before. He was also charging hard over the last 200m and was over a second clear of the bronze medal winning Yusuf Bizimana (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, Jeffery Nkrumah) in 3:56.68.
The women’s event saw Francesca Brint (Sale Harriers Manchester, Paul Roden) show that championships racing is not about who has the fastest PB. Showing the best acceleration on the last lap she looked in control of the race as she came down the home straight to win in 4:29.40 as Commonwealth Youth Champion Erin Wallace (Giffnock North AAC, Dudley Walk) moved into second over the last 150 with 4:29.82 and bronze went to Amelia Quirk (Bracknell AC, Mick Woods, 4:30.21).
Quirk was back in action in the 3000m and hit the front hard with two laps to go. as Julia Patternain (Cambridge & Coleridge, Mark Vile) moved into second with 600m remaining. As Quirk pulled away and won in 9:22.57, Patternain made sure of silver ahead of Charlotte Dannatt of Camberley & District (Alan Driver).
Jamie Williamson (Springburn, George Gandy) swept into the lead of the U23 1500m at the bell and piled on the running to take the title in 3:45.90. In second there was a great championships performance from Piers Copeland (Wimborne, Bob Smith) who knocked three seconds off his best to take silver. William Fuller (Blackheath & Bromley, George Gandy) edged out Archie Davis (Brighton Phoenix, Joel Kidger) for the bronze in 3:47.61 to 3:47.66.
West Suffolk AC’s Emily Moyes, (Mick Woods) was the one who made the strongest charge down the home straight as the steeplechase specialist came home to win the U23 5000 in 16:30.99, knocking a huge chunk off her best in the process. As the home straight battle unfolded, silver went to Abbie Donnelly (Lincoln Wellington, Rob Lewis) 16:31.89 and bronze to Aimee Pratt (Sale Harriers, Vicente Modahl, 16:32.71).
The combined 3000m steeplechase saw an U23 win for Dani Chattenton (Milton Keynes Distance Project, Kyle Bennett) in 10:52.22. The U20 title was won by Alexandra Barber (Windsor, Slough, Eton, & Hounslow, Shireen Higgins), who was second home overall in 10:56.80.
Cameron Corbishley (Medway & Maidstone, Andi Drake) was the first winner of the day in the U23 10,000m walk in 43:37.34. Tom Partington (Manx Harrier, Steve Partington) took the U20 title in 47:55.83.
There was a thrilling long jump competition in the U20 age group. It was Jade O’Dowda who smashed her personal best to take the title with a leap of 6.24 (+1.3) with a series of jumps ahead of her old best of 6.01. Just 1cm back was Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist Lucy Hadaway (City of York, Matt Barton) with 6.23 (+1.2) and Holly Mills, the Commonwealth Youth Games Champion, (Andover, James Coney) took bronze with 6.20 (+1.4) – just 4cm off gold!
Naomi Ogbeta (Trafford AC, Tom Cullen) continued her run of victories at England Athletics championships in the U23 Triple Jump title. Her 13.58 (0.0) took her to gold as Eavion Richardson (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, Craig Andrew) jumped out to 13.04 (+1.2) to win silver as bronze went to Lia Stephenson (Thames Valley Harriers, David Johnson) 12.66 (0.0).
Jude Bright-Davies (Thames Valley, David Johnson) regained the title he last won two years ago when he jumped 15.12 to beat Wesley Matsuka-Williams (City of Norwich, Denis Costello) who was also over 15m in 15.04 as Osaze Aghedo (Swansea, Steve Ingram) went to 14.69 for bronze.
The U20 high jump was won by Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley AC, Niall Wilkinson) with a jump of 1.84. The silver and bronze went to Abby Ward (Wakefield, Ian Hill) and Rebecca Hawkins (Bexley, John Bancroft) who both cleared 1.79.
Reynold Banigo (Sale Harriers Manchester, Lukasz Zawila) went out to 7.50 (+1.3) to take the U23 long jump.
JJ Lister (Harrow AC, Egryn Jones) went clear at 5.10 to set a new PB and secure gold for the U23 pole vault in testing, windy conditions.
Emma Hamplett (Birchfield, Mike McNeill) set a new personal in claiming the U23 women’s javelin with a throw of 54.08. In fact, the medallists all set new marks with Elspeth Jamieson (City of Norwich AC, Mike McNeill) throwing 45.44 for silver and Sophie Percival (West Cheshire, David McKay) going out to 45.03 for bronze.
Ireland’s Michaela Walsh (Michael Heneghan / Paddy Kelly) added to her collection of England Athletics titles and medals in the hammer as she threw out to 64.22. The champion in the U23 shot was Divine Oladipo (Blackheath & Bromley, John Hillier) with 16.28 as Michaela claimed another medal with 15.70 in second.
James Tomlinson (Pembrokeshire, Paul Jensen) was the U20 discus champion courtesy of a 57.65. A throw of 67.29 secured the U23 hammer title for Jac Palmer (Cardiff, Adrian Palmer). Niamh Fogarty (North Westmeath AC, Peter Collins) threw a 46.34 for the women’s U20 discus title.
George Hyde (Shaftesbury Barnet, Colin McCullough) is the shot champion for U23s after his throw of 15.54. A PB throw of 66.11 took Sam Dean (Sale Harriers, Neil Donbavand) to the U23 men’s javelin title.
A series of U18 events gave athletes a chance to target the marks set for the European Youth Championships in Hungary, where a British team of 33 athletes will be taken.
In the 100m hurdles a 13.61 (+1.1) was the winning time for Lucy-Jane Matthews (Southampton, Andrew Fisher) ahead of Marcia Sey (Croydon Harriers, Lorna Boothe), who was through the line in 13.73. The U18 men’s was taken by Sam Bennett (Basildon, Steve Surety) in 13.60 (+0.7) as Jordan Ricketts (Birchfield, Anthony Pitt) clocked a 13.82 to also be under the European Youth qualifying mark.
The U18 Hammer was won by Charlotte Pyne (Newbury, Bob Broadbridge) with a throw of 62.43. Sam Gaskell (Blackburn Harriers & AC, Michael Hitchon) took the U18 men’s in 67.01. Serena Vincent (City of Portsmouth, Bronwin Carter) and Hannah Molyneaux (City of Sheffield, Malcolm Fenton) both performed well in the U18 shot with 16.57 and 16.51 respectively.
The U18 men’s shot was won by George Hyde (West Cheshire) with 18.89 as Lewis Byng (Stratford Upon Avon, Paul Bearman) continued his impressive weekend with 18.77.