The England Athletics U17 and U15 Combined Events Championships in Manchester and European Athletics Combined Events Challenge had a little of everything.
The Manchester Regional Arena saw performances high on the all-time list, some close contests and a “what might have been” moment in the under-17 event.
Under-17 men’s decathlon
‘No-heighting’ in a field event is pretty much ‘game over’ in combined events — at least as far as an effective challenge is concerned. Not for Sammy Ball.
Despite picking up a groin injury on the first day and not clearing a bar in the pole vault, the Reading AC athlete cemented victory by more than 700 points with 6240.
Without the injury, he would surely have challenged the UK under-15 best for the event and might even have become the first Brit in his age group to surpass 7000 points.
Ryan Wells (Wycombe Phoenix) took silver with 5513, while Jay Cool (Bury) gained bronze with 5502.
Having won all five events yesterday to lead by 792 points, Ball continued to dominate by placing top in the 100m hurdles and discus. His 13.55 in the 100m hurdles gave him 852 points and a 37.26m discus took his lead into four figures.
However, there was nothing to add to his tally as the Michael Dyer-coached athlete failed at his opening height of 3.22m in the vault. He later confirmed it was his usual starting height, but the injury had affected his run-up. With a winning PB of 44.76m in the javelin, he was back on track, though.
In the 1500m, as James Harney (East Cheshire, Alexander Wort) went away to victory, Ball jogged near the back and eventually came home in 5:43.03 - around 80 seconds slower than his best.
Yesterday, he had set a PB of 11.25 for the 100m and in the high jump with 1.95m, adding to impressive performances in the long jump (6.87m), shot (14.86m) and 400m (50.24).
The athlete, who won the under-15 octathlon in these championships two years ago said afterwards: “There have been ups and downs over the weekend. I picked up an injury halfway through, so I just took it easy after that point. The score isn’t what I wanted as a result but that’s the nature of the sport. I am really pleased to get the win. I was hoping to finish with more points, but this event is a good learning to take away.”
Under-17 women’s heptathlon
Eloise Hind (Oxford City, Marcia Marriott) climbed to third on the UK all-time list with 5245 in winning gold, coming out on top in a tense contest. Finishing with two PBs, she added 176 points to her best from earlier this year.
Her long-time rival Lucy Fellows (St Mary’s Richmond, Alan Richardson) took silver with a PB of 4919. Chisom Nwafor (Chiltern, Alan Hewson) won bronze with 4718 in her first under-17 heptathlon.
After exchanging the lead yesterday, it initially remained close today between Hind and Fellows. When Hind won the long jump with 5.83m, Fellows was only just behind with 5.74m. That left the gap at 46 points in favour of Fellows.
However, behind winner Hayley Dimond (Marshall Milton Keynes, Claire Dimond), who set a PB of 37.46m, Hind likewise had a best of 36.87m. Despite Fellows’ PB of 30.46m, it was Hind who went into the 800m with a lead of 168. She left the final result in no doubt as she front-ran to another best of 2:22.70.
The all-time lists in this event do not tell the whole story, given the different implements used over the years. However, Hind was only 79 points short of the tally of Abigail Pawlett in winning her two years ago and the latter has gone on to an impressive senior heptathlon score.
Not bad considering she nearly decided not to return after being less than satisfied with day one. She explained: “I felt like I’d had a horrible first day and was considering not coming back for today and then I thought it’s not the end of the world. I had a solid day today so am really happy. I’ve got my training partner here [Iona Irvine] who came third. I’m so happy for her, she made such a huge difference, kept me relaxed and it has been so great to have her with me. I came here wanting to win but I didn’t think this score was possible, so I am so happy.”
Under-15 boys’ octathlon
Joe Stone (Tonbridge, Leslie Stone) carried on where he left off yesterday with another dominant performance over the last four events.
At the start of the day, Stone won the fastest heat of the 80m hurdles with 12.00 and was also best with his first discus competition (28.49m)
His 1.59m in the high jump was 4cm below his PB and then in the vault he was one of only two to clear 2.62m — a big advancement on his only previous attempt at the event.
The 1000m was virtually a victory parade as he ran well out in front in his first race at the distance. His time of 2:53.03 brought his tally to a quality 4407.
Yesterday Stone had set PBs in the 100m (11.75), javelin (40.37m) and ran his first 400m impressively with 53.80.
The event is not widely contested but, for reference, it was five points better than that achieved two years ago by Ball, who was the exceptional under-17 winner here.
Under-15 girls’ hexathlon
Arabella Wilson (Winchester & District, Andrew Fisher) triumphed with 3457 points after a hexathlon in which the lead changed several times.
Opening day two, Wilson took over the lead after winning the shot with 11.12m. However, Abigail Belward (Winchester, Andrew Fisher) was then best in the high jump with 1.50m to the 1.41m of Wilson.
It meant that Belward led by 19 points going into the final event, but it was Wilson who had much the better PB. Wilson led off as Belward was not far behind but ultimately unable to prevent her rival stretching away.
Wilson, who tops this year’s age-group pentathlon rankings, was timed at 2:25.01. Belward was rewarded with silver as she set a PB of 2:31.31 to finish just 61 points behind. Overnight leader Nia Powell of Wales was third with 3326.
Yesterday Belward had been just outside her PB with 12.00 in the 75m hurdles, long-jumped 5.37m and threw the javelin 17.15m.
Arabella Wilson said: “I’m really happy. It definitely means more to me to have won after not doing as well as I’d hoped in any of the other events, but I knew what I had to do going into the 800m and I just went for it. What I’m most proud of over the weekend’s events is my long jump and my shot put because, for both, the first throw and jump was the best out of my three and for multi-eventers that’s quite important because you only get three attempts, rather than six in an individual event.”
Senior women’s heptathlon
Overnight leader Katie Stainton (Birchfield, David Feeney) stretched away to a big win with 5854. She was over the Commonwealth standard for the second time this season after a 5864 to win the British title.
Ireland’s Anna McCauley was second on a PB of 5318 with Wales’ Lauren Evans also setting a best of 5254 for third.
At the start of day two, she was a little below-par with 5.91m in the long jump despite a following wind of 2.2m/sec but it was easily the best on the day. McCauley was second with 5.59m.
She was then just below her season’s best with 39.51m in the javelin to go into the 800m with a lead of more than 400 points.
Setting off on her own from the gun, she went through the bell in 64 seconds and clocked 2:13.18 to ensure she won all disciplines apart from the high jump over the weekend.
She was reasonably satisfied with another solid performance, saying afterwards: “The aim for this weekend was to get another heptathlon done. I’ve had a really rocky year, I’ve been injured for most of it so missed out on all the abroad heptathlons, so it was just about finishing it feeling healthy and getting ready for winter training. I’m pleased to finish a heptathlon to a decent standard despite not achieving any PBs, one season’s best in the high jump, so I can’t complain too much but it’s been really good for my confidence, coming back from a knee injury. Overall, I’d say I was satisfied and with every heptathlon you are learning. It’s not where I want to be at the moment but I’m healthy and looking forward to next year.”
Senior men’s decathlon
Scotland’s Andrew Murphy, competing in his first decathlon in two years, won with 7127 after a keenly contested competition.
Sam Talbot (Sheffield & Dearne, Toni Minichiello) added an impressive 330 points to his PB with 7054 for second. Elliot Thompson took third with 6843.
Charlie Roe (Coventry, Stewart Marshall) had led overnight but Murphy went into the lead after the 110m hurdles with 14.99 (-1.4), just two hundredths off his best. Talbot was quickest in that with 14.72.
Murphy won the discus with 41.81m, closely followed by Liam Reveley (Jarrow & Hebburn, Liane Brown), who threw a PB of 41.30m. He was then the only athlete to clear 4.50m in the pole vault, equalling his season’s best to edge further in front. His 46.24m javelin was just slightly below his season’s best as Bradley Eisnor set a PB of 55.11m for victory.
Talbot was left with a lot to do if he was to snatch the win in the 1500m. However, he gave it his best shot with a PB of 4:30.12 for second behind Elliot Thompson (Enfield & Haringey, Greg Richards).
With Murphy clocking 4:47.10, it came down to just 73 points in the end.
Click for full results (PDF 430kB)