Senior and U20 Combined Event Championships - Day 2 report

If Saturday’s competition had been exciting, Sunday’s action can be only described in one way: pulsating. Leads changed, national titles were won and lost in the blink of an eye, a British age-group record was broken and the theme ‘nothing but a personal best will do’ that started as early as the first race on Saturday continued apace. Going on this evidence, the winter has been good to England’s athletes so far and there’s much more to come! Here’s how it all unfolded…

Men’s Heptathlon

In a repeat of Saturday morning, the overnight leader Sam Talbot (John Lane, City of Sheffield and Dearne) stamped his authority on the field in the very first race of the day, exploding out of the blocks to take the sprint - over barriers on this occasion. Yesterday it was all about his 6.89 clocking over 60 metres on the flat, but Sunday was even better as he flew to 7.85 in the 60 hurdles (1020 points), a massive improvement on his previous best of 8.10 and his fourth PB in five events. Indeed, such was the quality of this performance, it would have ranked him number 5 in the country last season indoors. Behind him, the reigning champion Lewis Church (David Hull, Tonbridge) had been hauling Sam back late Saturday to reduce his lead to just 62 points after the high jump but could ‘only’ run 8.36 (893 points) in this instance, just 0.01 seconds off his best. Good running on any other day, but that winning time from Sam really laid down a marker.

Lewis did respond with first time clearances all the way to 4.50 in the pole vault but could go no higher on this occasion, and that proved significant as Sam, jumping in the B pool went over 4.60, a height which all but secured him the gold going into the 1000m. It was his fifth PB of the weekend and a huge 40cm better than his previous best. Over in Pool A, also notching up yet another lifetime best (his third) was Caius Joseph (Rafer Joseph, Basingstoke and Mid Hants) who went over 4.60. The five laps of the 1000m is all about attrition, and credit to Lewis who hit the front early and tried to deaden the undoubted turn of pace Sam is currently enjoying. However, the Sheffield man is clearly in the form of his life and quickly moved to the front himself, clearly intent on yet another PB (six out of a possible seven) let alone the gold medal. He crossed the line first in his heat and was rewarded with both, clocking 2:38.91! His 5823 points moved him to eighth on the UK all-time list, while in second, Lewis’ 5587 points was a PB as was bronze medallist Harry Maslen’s (Sam Stanislaus, Ilkley Harriers) 5559 points.

“Very happy with that,” concluded Sam, hinting that he might look to run a few more hurdles races after such a quick 60H earlier in the day.

“It was fast, but it wasn’t perfect. I got left in the blocks a bit,” he said. As for the final 100 metres in that epic 1000m he shrugged his shoulders and laughed: “I’ve no idea where that came from.”

Next up is the international in Estonia, representing England.

U20 Men’s Heptathlon

Such was Sammy Ball’s (Michael Dyer, Reading AC) lead overnight, his slow start in the 60 hurdles and sluggish looking race was more frustrating for last year’s silver medallist rather than disastrous in terms of where the title would be heading later that afternoon. Similar to Saturday, his run was solid rather than spectacular as he clocked 8.54 for 851 points. Third placer overnight, Will Reid (Sam Stanislaus, City of York) reduced Ball’s lead marginally, running a PB of 8.51 for 858 points. But it was a case of further increasing that lead in the high jump as Sammy’s third time clearance at 1.95 summed his two days up perfectly - very strong, under control and more than a hint that there’s much more to come should he need it. And finally, his 1000m continued his theme for the day - relaxed effort - as he ran 2:50.27 for a final total of 5434 points ahead of Conrad Winter (City of Norwich) and Will Reid, who had filled the same medal slots going into Sunday.

“I’ve had a hamstring issue,” said Sammy explaining his sluggish hurdles, “so I just jogged through that. Plus I have been ill over Christmas, so it was a case of being under control all the way. I do have another gea.,”

he confirmed, happy to get the ‘flu behind him and the niggles he’s been struggling with over the first part of the winter.

Women’s Pentathlon

Jordanna MorrishIt’s always exciting to see American and German entries in the English championships, but it was even more so to see England’s Emily Tyrrell (Kevin Skinner, Exeter Harriers) take an early lead, winning the 60 hurdles in a snappy 8.57 (1002 points). Of course, the pentathlon is much more than just one event and her Welsh and American rivals, Lauren Evans (Fyn Corcoran, Cardiff) and Kaitlin Smith (USA) were well within shouting distance at this stage, just 0.02 and 0.04 adrift. The high jump saw Emily maintain that tight lead after her 1.69 clearance, which Lauren also cleared. Jordanna Morrish (Rafer Joseph, Bracknell) moved into contention following a 1.78 event-winning jump to close on Kaitlin in third. However, in what was proving to a tough competition to call, control of the potential gold medal then fell to USA’s Kaitlin after her 11.96 final round effort in the shot. Wales’ Lauren stayed in second thanks to her 11.14 throw while Emily slipped back to third, just 38 points adrift with a 10.48 put. As ever, the final event going into the 800 metres is always important and so it proved once again as Emily returned to the number 1 spot thanks to her 5.98 long jump which equalled her best - but more importantly gave her a 50-point lead over Kaitlin. However, it wasn’t enough on this occasion and the title headed west across the Atlantic thanks to Kaitlin’s 2:20.19. Morris rallied for third (and first Englishwoman) thanks to her superb four laps in 2:19.53 (and a great long jump of 5.83).

3000m walk

The weekend included a number of additional events including the men’s 3km walk, won by Tom Partington (Steve Partington, Manx). He hit the front from the gun and applied the pressure to ease away for a comfortable win in 13:12.13. In the women’s race, Abigail Jennings (Verity Snook, AFD) seized her chance to win after long-time leader Hannah Hopper (Noel Carmody, Cambridge Harriers) looked to have cramps in the closing stages. Abigail won in 14:54.79.

Tom Partington and Abigail Jennings

BMC races

There were also 16 BMC races, two of which - the men’s and women’s 800s - had England team vests on offer for an event in Reykjavik, Iceland next month. Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn, Enfield and Haringey) produced the standout performance powering to a lifetime best of 2:00.99. Other highlights included Oscar Schofield (Trevor Painter, Sale Harriers Manchester) running a British Under 17 record in the 1500m, his solo effort rewarded with 3:52.53. And, of course, let’s not forget Philip Seseman (Andrew Henderson, Leeds) out-leaning 1500m world champion Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh) to win the 3000m in 7:54.34!

OSCAR SCHOFIELD, Phil Seseman and Jake Wightman

Images by Mark Shearman