Another season of indoor championship athletics will get under way at the excellent English Institute of Sport Arena, Sheffield, this weekend. The bulk of the action will be in the England Athletics Senior and U20 Indoor Combined Events Championships. Several athletes are also entered for the England Para Championships in the ambulant events and England Walks Championships. The British Milers’ Club will hold a number of races as part of the programme on Sunday.
The senior combined-eventers will be eyeing up selection for the World Combined Events Tour silver label meeting in Tallinn next month. The first three eligible English athletes who have attained the “consideration standards” of 5300 points (men) and 4000 points (women) since the start of 2023 will be considered for selection. Other athletes could also receive a discretionary place from the selection panel subject to a maximum team size of three men and three women.
Senior women’s pentathlon
Jodie Smith (coach Ashley Bryant, club: Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) will be looking to follow up her England heptathlon win from last summer when she improved her PB to 5998. The former England under-20 champion may also be seeking to better her pentathlon best of 4277, which makes her second best on paper in the line-up.
After dominating the age groups championships, Abigail Pawlett (Ashley Bryant, Trafford) enjoyed a fine first season as a senior last year, placing second behind Smith in the outdoor championships with a PB of 5833 and her pentathlon best of 3968 is due for revision. Ireland’s Anna McCauley, who won at these championships two years ago with her PB of 4100, is another key challenger.
Jordanna Morrish (Rafer Joseph, Basingstoke & Mid Hants) and Lauren Evans (David Guest, Cardiff), who won gold and silver respectively here last year, are back. The latter improved to 4043 with her win at the UK Championships to rank one of the best on PBs on the Sheffield start list. Top on lifetime bests is Jo Rowland (Crawley), who scored 4291 in 2018 and won England gold here two years ago.
Bryony Bovell (John Shepherd, Guildford & Godalming), who won the under-20 England pentathlon and heptathlon titles last year, steps up to the senior age group this year. Eloise Hind (Marcia Marriott, Oxford), a former under-20 England silver medallist and under-17 gold medallist, and UK heptathlon bronze medallist Laura Darcey (Rafer Joseph, Basingstoke & Mid Hants) are others who could figure highly.
Junior women’s pentathlon
Three of the top four from last summer’s England heptathlon championships are still eligible and will line up here: Sophie Doherty (Rafer Joseph, Basingstoke & Mid Hants), Wales’ Jessica Lee and Neve Davenport (Jessica Taylor-Jemmett, Trafford)
Doherty is top on heptathlon PBs with 4845 from when she won that England outdoor silver. Davenport won bronze on that occasion, when her score was equalled by Lee, who is best on pentathlon PBs with her 3509 from when she was fifth here in 2023. Double Commonwealth Youth Games medallist Thea Brown (Joanna Harding, Sale Harriers Manchester) moves up to U20 this year and has an excellent combined events record as an U17. Eva John is also ranked highly as an U17and debuts as an U20. Frances Hogg (Sam Stanislaus, City of York), who was sixth last year with 3447, Millie Hardy (Martin Bishell, Hallamshire) and Iceland’s Brynja Rós Brynjarsdóttir should also be contenders.
Chisom Nwafor (Alan Hewson, Chiltern), who represented Britain at the 2022 European Athletics U18 Championships, will compete in her first pentathlon since she was an under-15.
Senior men’s heptathlon
Sam Talbot (John Lane, Sheffield & Dearne) will be looking to repeat his memorable weekend here this time last year. He enjoyed a senior breakthrough to take gold with PBs in six of the seven disciplines, notching up 5823, which ranks him eighth on the UK all-time list.
Lewis Church (David Hull, Tonbridge) has been a staple of these championships since winning the under-20 decathlon title in 2015. Although he lost out to Talbot 12 months ago, he won the UK and England decathlon titles last summer and three England combined-events golds in the three years prior to that.
Regular close rival and clubmate Harry Kendall (David Hull, Tonbridge) is unsurprisingly in the field too. A 2022 Commonwealth Games representative for England, his England outdoor gold two years ago has been the highlight of several medals at this level. Scottish athletes are out in force with good representation from 5000-pointers Euan Bradley, Callum Newby and Will Hodi. Oliver Adnitt (Kingston upon Hull, David Feeney) is another challenger, having placed seventh here last year.
Under-20 men’s heptathlon
Conrad Winter (City of Norwich) wants to go one better than in 2023 when he won silver behind the dominant Sammy Ball. His 4788 there makes the England under-20 outdoor decathlon silver medallist the No.1 on paper. However, he will face tough competition from Ireland’s Finn O’Neill, who won England under-17 heptathlon gold two years ago and under-20 decathlon silver last summer. Sulaiman Ouiles (Paul Wray, Cheltenham) was just five points behind Winter in taking decathlon silver at the English Schools Championships at the very end of last summer. He will be looking to start 2024 on a high and looks set to improve on his 11th here last time out.
Sam Wright (Simon Hemmings, Chelmsford), England under-17 decathlon champion, Corey Beechall (Alexander Wort, Liverpool Harriers) and Joe Stone (Leslie Stone, Tonbridge), the top three in the U17s at these championships last year, will be hoping for a fine start in the under-20 age group. Another of the front-runners from last year in action is Morgan White (Sale Harriers Manchester), who was fourth with 4577
William Reid (Sam Stanislaus, City of York) is back to try to improve on his bronze of last year. The English Schools bronze medallist is second on the PB list with his 4732 from 12 months ago. Kieran Bouwmeester-Reid (St Mary’s Richmond), who was fourth on the under-20 UK decathlon rankings last year, is another contender.
In the 3000m race walk, GB international Cameron Corbishley (Andi Drake, Medway & Maidstone), who ranks third best all-time in the UK for this distance with 11:19.10, heads the line-up. Chris Snook (Andi Drake, Aldershot, Farnham & District) and Tom Partington (Steve Partington, Manx) look set to be his closest rivals.
Welsh under-20 Gracie Griffiths is quickest overall on the women’s side with her PB of 13:48.72 and she will be looking to follow up her win in the corresponding event outdoors last summer.
The under-15s will go over 2000m and this features English Schools champion Tim Perry (Northern Isle of Man) and English Schools bronze medallist Grace Andrews (Verity Snook, Aldershot, Farnham & District).
Paralympic T38 100m champion Thomas Young (Joseph McDonnell, Loughborough Students) is lined up to compete over 60m. He is by far the quickest on the roster with his PB of 7.03, although the line-ups for the ambulant events are composed of athletes from different classifications.
T38/F38 athlete Madeline Down (Mike Bennett, Halesowen), the Commonwealth youth champion at 100m and long jump, is top on the start list for both her events. She will be joined in the 60m by Paralympic T35 100m bronze medallist Maria Lyle of Scotland, while in the long jump, F47 competitor Rebecca Scott (Paul Keeble, Stevenage North Herts) could be her closest rival.
T20 runner Daniel Wolf (Dave Mitchell, Epsom & Ewell) will compete in the 1500m, in which he won the England outdoor title in 2022.
Anna Nicholson (Richard Kaufman, Gateshead), who was fourth in the F35 category in the World Para Athletics Championships last year, features in the shot line-up.