Last weekend saw England Athletics send a strong, young England squad to the Reykjavik International Games, for the second time.
The games are one of Iceland’s largest sporting events, with nearly 2000 competitors, from more than 40 countries around the world, participating in 15 sports.
We had a strong start to the day, with Laura Zialor (Club: Marshall Milton Keynes/Birmingham Uni, Coach: Jade Surman) competing in the high jump. Laura equalled her indoor personal best with a jump of 1.78m. Narrowly missing out on the win, due to countback and was only a whisker away from 1.80m.
First on the track, making her England senior debut, was Tamara Miller (Club: Wakefield, Coach: Lewis Samuel and Desmond Brear) in the 200m. Tamara finished 3rd in a highly competitive race, in a time of 24.90. At just 17 years old, Tamara has an exciting future ahead of her.
Next on the track was the 60m, with both James Williams (Club: Liverpool H/Liverpool John Moores Uni, Coach: Paul Waters) and Page Fairclough (Club: Shaftesbury Barnet/Herts Uni, Coach Simon Duberley) winning their respective races. Williams' strong finish in his 60m semi-final helped him equal his personal best, in a time of 6.77 seconds. Fairclough led from start to finish in her 60m semi-final, winning in a season’s best of 7.60 seconds.
Jason Hoyle (Club: Thames Valley, Coach: Lloyd Cowan) led from start to finish in the men’s 400m and recorded a time of 48.02 seconds. He showed his experience in coping with the track’s tight bends and high banks to run a mature and controlled race.
In the women’s 400m, Louise Evans (Club: Blackheath & Bromley, Coach: Linford Christie and Carlo Monticolombi) took the win in a competative race, winning in a time of 55.66 seconds.
After strong performances on the track from the sprinters, it was time for the middle-distance athletes to turn up the heat. First up was Revee Walcott-Nolan (Club: Luton/St. Mary’s Uni) in the 800m. Revee ran a controlled race from start to finish and secured a comfortable victory, in a time of 2:09.81.
The men’s 1500m was up next, with Kieran Reilly (Club: Tonbridge/Eastern Michigan/Loughborough Students, Coach: Mark Hookway) competing against a very strong Icelandic athlete and former training partner, Hlynur Andrésson. The two athletes were neck and neck until the closing stages of the race, when Andrésson managed to pull away for the victory. Reilly took 2nd place in a time of 3:49.45.
Sam Heawood (Club: Crawley/Brunel Uni, Coach: Zane Duquemin) opened his 2020 Indoor season by taking 3rd place in a highly competitive competition, with a throw of 16.17m. Heawood, who has only recently changed to the rotational technique for the shot, showed positive signs of much bigger throws to come, an athlete to be sure to follow over the year. In the women’s shot, Hannah Molyneaux (Club: Sheffield & Dearne/Sheffield Hallam Uni, Coach: Malcolm Fenton) finished 2nd with a distance of 13.05m. Somewhat down on her personal best, but Hannah remained positive, and is focusing on a strong return to form at her next competition.
The final two track events for the day for the England team saw James Williams (Club: Liverpool H/Liverpool John Moores Uni, Coach: Paul Waters) and Page Fairclough (Club: Shaftesbury Barnet/Herts Uni, Coach Simon Duberley) compete once again in the 60m finals. Williams ran another strong race, taking the victory in 6.78 seconds. Only one one-hundredth off his PB, equalled earlier in the day. Fairclough ran yet another great race, clocking a time of 7.61 seconds and taking 3rd place behind Icelandic International, Guðbjörg Jóna Bjarnadóttir.
The final event of the day, the men’s high jump, was the highlight of the competition and captivated the crowds. Making his first appearance since June 2019, Dominic Ogbechie (Club: Highgate, Coach: Marius Guei) went head-to-head with 16 year old Icelandic sensation, Kristján Viggó Sigfinnsson. Both athletes put on an amazing show. Ogbechie kept a clean series of jumps all the way through to 2.17m, surpassing the British Athletics 2020 World Juniors standard and securing the victory. After two failed attempts at 2.20m, the whole stadium's eyes were on the high jump to watch his final attempt. On his third and final attempt Ogbechie cleared the bar, but only the slightest of touches from his ankles caused the bar to come off. Back to his best, this young sensation stole the show and looks good to deliver even bigger and better performances in 2020.
Team Leader, Scott Grace said: ‘I am very pleased with the team’s performance. This is only the second time we have brought a team to the Reykjavik International Games and I was impressed with the calibre of competition. We had a good balance of experienced athletes and a few athletes making their senior international debuts. I’m excited to see how these athletes progress for the rest of the indoor season.
‘I would also like to thank the team staff for the great support on this trip.’
Scott Grace (Team Leader)
Kirsty Aitken (Team Manager)
Donovan Reid (Team Coach – Sprints)
Tom Cragg (Team Coach - Endurance)
Deirdre Elmhirst (Team Coach – Jumps)
Nick Ridgeon (Team Coach – Throws)
Dan Elias (Team Physio).