Preview: England Athletics Under 23 and Under 20 Championships

Superstar sprinter Amy Hunt is one of the 11 current European junior champions due to compete in the England Athletics Under 23 and Under 20 Championships.

The two-day event will act as the selection trial for both the European Under-23 Championships and the European Under-20 Championships, which will both take place in Tallinn, Estonia, next month. The winner of each event will be automatically selected if they have the relevant standard or do so this year before the end of the qualifying window, while up to three athletes overall can be picked.

These championships have regularly been a launchpad for Britain’s up-and-coming talent, as well as a great honing opportunity for the more established names and this weekend looks set to be no different.

You can catch a livestream of the action on Saturday and Sunday at Vincosport.

Under 20 women

When this event was last staged two years ago, Amy Hunt gave notice of greater things to come when she roared home to 100m gold. In her next competition, the Charnwood AC athlete set a sensational European junior 200m record of 22.42, going above Dina Asher-Smith on the rankings. The Bedford meeting also laid the groundwork for her to win European junior gold. The Joe McDonnell-based athlete is on the startlists this weekend for the longer event, in which she has competed only once so far this season. She is due to face Hannah Foster, who won European junior 4x400m relay gold two years ago.

Mary John (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies; Alan James) has made impressive improvement in her first season at 400m. Having progressed to 53.49 to rank third best junior in Europe, she will be looking to make her first national championships a memorable one. Also similarly ranked on the continent’s list is pole vaulter Sophie Ashurst (Sale Harriers, Andy Ashurst), who has leaped a PB of 4.16m and will start favourite in her event.

Joy Eze (Gateshead) and Eve Wright (Shaftesbury Barnet; Ryan Freckleton) could be the ones battling for gold in the 100m as the only two athletes currently with the Tallinn standard. In the 100m hurdles, Lily Parris (Chelmsford; Julia Benterman) has the qualifying mark with 13.61 and will have recently crowned England junior heptathlon champion Abigail Pawlett (Stockport T&F; Joe Frost) among her challengers. Abigail will also be a strong contender in the long jump.

Discus thrower Samantha Callaway (Newham & Essex Beagles; David Callaway) leads the way with her Tallinn standard of 52.72m in her event. Meanwhile, Charlotte Payne (Reading; Paul Dickenson) has been comfortably putting the hammer over the mark required on numerous occasions this season already. Elizabeth Korczak (Brighton & Hove, Bob Willows), who has thrown 49.12m in the javelin, will be looking for victory as well as the all-important 50m barrier for Tallinn.

In the 1500m, Abigail Ives (Basildon; Richard Bullis) leads the entries on times and is less than a second outside the European Juniors mark needed with her 4:22.77. Also close to the standard is high jumper Zara Tyas (Stockport T&F; Joe Frost), whose recent 1.80m jump leaves her looking for just another centimetre.

Under 20 men

As with the women, the sprints in the under-20 category will be closely contested by several athletes who have the qualifying marks. Charlie Carvell (Telford; Stuart Hamilton), Edward Foulds (Rugby & Northampton; James Wright) and Alex Cooper (Birchfield; Grant Parker) have all run the under the 47.5 target this season and will be pushing for the medals in the 400m.
Toby Makoyawo (WSEH; Peter Griffiths) heads the 100m roster with his recent PB of 10.37, which makes him fourth best junior in Europe. He will be hoping to cement his place with Jason Kalale (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) and Henry Awoke (Liverpool Harriers; Mike Sweeney) also in with a shout. Makoyawo is also entered for the 200m, having gained the 21.23 Tallinn mark, while Nwoke will be looking to replicate his 21.01 form of his last year.

Like their senior counterparts this year, British junior middle-distance runners have been flying. The 1500m start lists have both the first and third-ranked under-20 athletes in Europe in Scotland’s Kane Elliott and Ethan Hussey (Leeds City; Andrew Henderson), who will be among those fighting for the title.

In the high jump, Sam Brereton (Birchfield; Fuzz Caan) already has the required 2.13m, while European youth champion Dominic Ogbechie (Highgate; Marius Guei) should be capable of challenging him. In the long jump, Brad Davies-Pughe (Shaftesbury Barnet; Jack Awe) leads the entries and is just one centimetre short of the standard with his best of 7.49m.

Adam Booth (Poole; Graham Gourley) is a clear favourite for the 400m hurdles, having this season clocked 51.56 — a PB by more than two and a half seconds — to go under the European standard. In the sprint hurdles, Joseph Harding (Basildon; Laura Turney-Alleyne), who has set a best of 13.70 this season, is the only one with the Tallinn mark.

Under 23 women

European junior 800m champion Isabelle Boffey makes the step up in search of a golden treble after winning the England under-20 title in both 2017 and 2019. The Enfield & Haringey athlete, coached by Luke Gunn, leads the European rankings for her age group. Also running will be Khahisa Mhlanga (Herts Phoenix; Mick Judd), who has previously run below the Tallinn mark but is yet to do so this year.

World junior bronze medallist Kristual Awuah heads the 100m and 200m entries, facing tough opposition in the shorter event from Scotland’s Alisha Rees (Scotland) and Ireland’s Gina Akpe-Moses. Cassie-Ann Pemberton (Birchfield; Sharon Morris), who was a member of Britain’s winning 4x100m team at the European Juniors in 2019, is listed for both sprints. Georgina Adam (Loughborough), who was another of that quartet, will go in the 200m. Meanwhile, Nayanna Dubarry-Gay (Victoria Park; Clarence Callender), who was a 4x400m gold medallist at those championships, is entered for both 200m and 400m. Natasha Harrison (Stockport; Alex O’Gorman), her relay team-mate on that occasion, is down for the one-lap too.

Ranked third among European juniors this year, Elise Thorner (Wells City) is fastest of the steeplechase entries.

In the pole vault will be former European junior silver medallist Molly Caudery (Thames Valley; Stuart Caudery), - pictured- who is another who hopes to be challenging for medals in Tallinn.

Anna Purchase (Notts; Rob Careless), with her recent 66.52m Europeans qualifier, will be favourite in the hammer.
Zoe Pollock (Loughborough; Nick Dakin) leads the 400m hurdles entries and, with her 57.69 PB last month, is chasing the 57.50 needed for Tallinn.

Under 23 men

The 1500m promises to be a tense scrap as the start lists feature no less than seven athletes who already have the qualifying mark with only one guaranteed selection. Brighton AC’s British senior champion George Mills (Jon Bigg) is No.3 on the continent for the age group this year and will be looking for the chance to gain more international honours after his European youth title in 2016. European junior bronze Josh Lay (Rugby & Northampton; Anthony Love) and Remi Adebeyi (Newport; Daryn McAtee) are among the challengers.

On the 100m entries, Romell Glave (Croydon; Michael Afilaka) and Brandon Mingeli (Cambridge; Ryan Freckleton) are ranked fourth and fifth in Europe this year. However, it’s another strong field and their biggest threat could come from European junior bronze medallist Chad Miller, Dominic Ashwell (Shaftesbury Barnet) and Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff; Helen Patricia James).

The 800m line-up has 2018 World Juniors representative Alex Botterill (City of York; Andrew Henderson), European junior silver medallist Ben Pattison (Basingstoke & Mid Hants; Dave Ragan) and Thomas Randolph (Tamworth; Craig Winrow), all of whom have the qualification standard. European junior 400m hurdles silver medallist Seamus Derbyshire (City of Stoke; Nick Dakin) is fastest in his field but still needs the standard of 50.50.

Leading the small high jump field is Joel Khan (Worcester; Deirdre Elmhirst), who is ranked fourth in Europe and is the only athlete with the qualifying mark. European Juniors representative Lewis Byng (Harrow; Stuart Carlaw) is favourite in the shot as he also seeks the 18.90m required for Tallinn.

Original photo by Mark Shearman