Preview: England Athletics Senior and U20 Combined Event Championships

The first England Athletics track championships of the summer will see some of the top all-rounders of the country taking part this weekend (27 and 28 May) at the Manchester Regional Arena. Jodie Smith, Abigail Pawlett, Lewis Church and Sammy Ball are no strangers to England Athletics championship action and will be among the favourites over the two days.

Senior women’s heptathlon

Jodie Smith (coach: Ashley Bryant, club: Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow), last year’s UK champion with her PB of 5929, will be among the strongest contenders. She is competing in her second multi-events of the summer after opening in Italy in April with a competition in which she secured a shot PB of 12.60m. Abigail Pawlett (Ashley Bryant, Trafford) enters the senior rankings after winning England combined events gold in every age group previously. The athlete, who was seventh at the European U20 Championships in 2021, already has a best of 5706 to lie second best on paper on the start lists. Jo Rowland (Crawley), a winner of these championships in 2012, is third best on PBs with her 5702. Natasha Smith (David Feeney, Birchfield Harriers) will be looking to improve on her fourth in this event last year, having followed up on that by improving her PB to 5646. German pentathlon champion Laura Voss is back in the UK after placing second at the England Athletics Indoor Combined Events Championships in January. Other top overseas challengers include Ireland’s Anna McCauley and Wales’ Lauren Evans.

Under-20 women’s heptathlon

Iona Irvine (Marcia Marriott, Oxford City) heads the roster on PBs, having scored 4803 to win at the Somerset Championships last month. Her best in England combined events championships has been fourth as an under-17. Rosella Togo (Matt Cullen, Bury) has a best of 4780 and was fourth in this event last year. With PBs in the 100m (12.69) and 800m (2:25.82) already this summer, she will be looking to step up for a medal. Neve Davenport (Jessica Taylor-Jemmett, Trafford) is entered, having also set a best in the Somerset event, in her case 4741 just behind Irvine. Wales’ Jessica Lee is back across the border after winning at the England under-17 event last year. Frances Hogg (Sam Stanislaus, City of York) is another contender with her best of 4609.

Senior men’s decathlon

The decathlon will have a familiar feel to it due to the presence of Lewis Church (David Hull; Tonbridge), an England combined events champion several times over the years. The UK indoor heptathlon champion leads the way on PBs with his 7773 from last year. Last year’s UK decathlon champion, Elliot Thompson (Greg Richards, Enfield & Haringey), is another regular at England events. He turns up here after a positive start to the season, which has seen him just miss his 100m PB with 11.38 into a strong headwind. Charlie Roe (Stewart Marshall, Coventry Godiva), who was fourth in the UK Athletics Indoor Combined Events Championships this year, is another contender. Scotland’s Adam Hoole, who was second in the under-20 decathlon last year, steps up to the seniors. Callum Newby, under-20 winner in these championships two years ago, is another Scot looking to head back across the border with silverware.

Under-20 men’s decathlon

Sammy Ball (Michael Dyer, Reading) seeks to continue an almost flawless record in England combined events championships, having won outdoors in different age groups over the past four summers. He has begun this season well with PBs already in the 100m, 110m hurdles, pole vault and javelin. With a score of 7361 from last year under his belt, his target will be the 7250 that is the qualifying standard for the European Under-20 Championships in Jerusalem. Conrad Winter (City of Norwich) was closest to Ball when the latter took England heptathlon gold indoors last winter and he is back again. In fact, the top five from that day will be returning, including Will Reid (Sam Stanislaus, City of York), who won bronze on that occasion. Morgan White (Sale Harriers), who was fourth, will be another to watch out for. James Harney (Alexander Wort, East Cheshire Harriers), who was fifth, moves up to this age group as the England under-17 champion from 2022. Another in the line-up is Ireland’s Finn O’Neill, who convincingly won the under-18 title here last year, adding to his win in the under-17s indoors.

Under-18 events/BMC

England Athletics is providing rare competition opportunities on Sunday for athletes seeking selection over the appropriate hurdle heights for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad & Tobago in June. In addition, the British Milers’ Club Manchester Sport City Grand Prix will be held in conjunction with Saturday’s programme, beginning late afternoon.

Useful links and further information