Preview: England Athletics Senior & Para Open Championships, Chelmsford, July 22-23

Olympian and Commonwealth Games athlete from Birmingham 2022 Abigail Irozuru is among the names due to compete in Chelmsford this weekend, while the likes of Yemi Mary John, Sam Reardon, Kenneth Ikeji, Lucy Hadaway, Michael Jenkins, and Zara Obamakinwa will be looking to build on recent good form. A few of those competing over the two days have a chance of putting themselves in line for selection for next month’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, with Sunday representing the final deadline for qualifying marks.

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Glasgow 5 February 2022. Yemi Mary John (England). Photo by Mark Shearman.

In the women’s 400m, new European U23 champion Yemi Mary John (pictured, Alan James, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) is the fastest on this season’s times with her PB from Espoo of 51.04.

Sam Reardon (Nigel Stickings, Blackheath & Bromley) follows up his appearance at the European U23s where he was fifth in the 800m and won bronze in the 4x400m. He will line up in the 400m where Dan Putnam (Blackheath & Bromley) is the quickest this season with 46.02.

The 110m hurdles sees last year’s European Championships representative Miguel Perera (Laura Turner-Alleyne; Harrow) take on England U23 champion Thomas Wilcock (Jerzy Maciukiewicz, Northampton) after the latter’s big improvement to 13.68 at the UK Championships.

Isabel Wakefield (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Harrow), who broke through to silver with 13.05 at the UK Championships, heads the 100m hurdles entries along with Alicia Barrett (Benke Blomkvist, Trafford) and Jenna Blundell (David Norton, Bristol & West).

Hayley McLean (Chris Zah, Shaftesbury Barnet) is seeking her third successive title in these championships, with Jess Tappin (Thames Valley Harriers) and Ese Okoro (Birchfield Harriers) among her main opponents.

In the 400m hurdles, UK silver medallist and national rankings leader Seamus Derbyshire (Nick Dakin, City of Stoke) faces UK bronze medallist Maranga Mokoya (Emma Louise Hooper, Notts) and 2022 European Champs representative Jacob Paul (Marina Armstrong, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow).

The para sprints include Segun Samuel (Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun, Newham & Essex Beagles), who won at these championships last year and at the England Athletics U15 & U17 Combined Event & Para Championships indoors this winter, who goes in the 100m.

Middle distance/hurdles

Manchester 18 August 2021. Khahisa Mhlanga wins the senior women's 800m. Photo by Mark Shearman.

Khahisa Mhlanga (pictured, Andrew Hobdell, Herts Phoenix) defends her 1500m title, clearly in top shape judging by her fourth over 800m at the UK Championships where she set a PB of 2:01.31. After winning England under-23 gold a month ago, Steph Driscoll (Trevor Painter, Liverpool Harriers) returns to Chelmsford to try to retain her England senior title in the 800m.

Cameron Corbishley (Andi Drake, Medway & Maidstone) and Wales’ Bethan Davies head the entries for the 5000m walk, the latter lying second on the UK all-time rankings for the event.

Thomas Staines (Basingstoke & Mid Hants) is the only athlete to have run below 1:47 in the 800m field. The US-based runner is racing for the first time in the UK this summer, having clocked a PB of 1:45.28 last year.


Loughborough 19 May 2019. Lucy Hadaway, winner of the women's long jump. Photo by Mark Shearman.

One of the best chances of a Budapest qualifier comes in the women’s long jump, where Lucy Hadaway (pictured, Matt Barton, City of York) leads the entries, so far 2cm short of the 6.75m required. Tokyo Olympic finalist Abigail Irozuru (Aston Moore, Sale Harriers) will be seeking a marked advance on her season’s best of 6.47m.

Former European U18 gold medallist Dominic Ogbechie (Marius Guei, Walton) has won 13 England Athletics titles at high jump, long jump and 200m, including at every level from under-15 to under-23 level. It’s the high jump in which the 2.22m man will compete in Chelmsford as he looks to add to this recent national under-23 gold.

In the pole vault, 5.71m jumper and UK champion Charlie Myers (Chris Boundy, Birtley) and Adam Hague (Trevor Fox, Sheffield & Dearne) will be looking for their best form, which would see them approach the World Championships qualifying standard of 5.74m.

On the women’s side, Jade Ive (Sutton & District), who has jumped 4.50m, tops the entries with Jade Spencer-Smith (Richard Humby, Harrow) another contender.

UK triple jump champion Efe Uwaifo (Daniel Hooker, Harrow) and current British No.1 Jude Bright-Davies (David Johnson, Thames Valley) lead the way on the triple jump roster.


Bedford, 18 July 2021. Nicholas Percy, winner of the men's discus throw. Photo by Mark Shearman.

Michael Jenkins (Ryan Spencer-Jones, Pembrokeshire), who won F38 shot silver at the World Para Athletics Championships last week, provides one of the highlights in the field. He will compete in both shot and discus.

In the discus, Nick Percy (pictured, Zane Duquemin, Shaftesbury Barnet) is chasing the World Championships selection standard of 65.81m, having recorded 65.00m in previous years.

NCAA hammer champion Kenneth Ikeji (Paul Head, Basildon) already has that mark for his event, leading the UK rankings with his 77.92m and looking to make up for his below-par fifth at the UK Championships.

Zara Obamakinwa (Mark Chapman, Blackheath & Bromley) follows up her national discus junior record of 55.99m at the UK Championships, with Amy Holder (Neville Thompson, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) chief among those looking to challenge.

Youcef Zatat (Scott Rider, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), the five-time UK outdoor silver medallist, leads the shot line-up.

The usual strong hammer line-up includes Katie Head (Paul Head, Newham & Essex Beagles), Jessica Mayho (John Pearson, Birchfield Harriers) and Tara Simpson-Sullivan (Robert Halliwell, Wigan & District).

Three-time Paralympic champion Stephen Miller (Rosalynd Miller, Gateshead) and Javid Ehsani Shakib, who won F57 Paralympic shot bronze for Iran in 2016, will compete in the para seated club and hammer.

Headlining the javelin will be Bekah Walton (David Turner, Blackheath & Bromley), whose 59.76m at the UK Championships last weekend was the best mark by a Brit since 2015.

UK Combined Events Champs

The event also incorporates the UK Athletics Combined Events Championships. In the decathlon, training partners Harry Kendall, the Commonwealth Games sixth-placer, faces England champion Lewis Church (Tonbridge; David Hull).

Jade O’Dowda, who was just five points short of the World Championships qualifying standard at Gotzis with 6255, is back for another go.

Images by Mark Shearman.

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