There’s always a degree of bravery and commitment required to compete at a national championships, but few can claim to have demonstrated it quite so dramatically as those who made it Sheffield for what quite possibly will be the last such event for some time - such is the uncertainty we’re all currently experiencing. Credit then to everyone involved from the competitors - clearly in the shape of their lives - to the officials, stadium staff and more, all keen that the show must go on!
And go on it did with the first title of the weekend won by Ella Rush (Amber Valley and Erewash, Michael Baker, Joe McColgan), as she added gold in the U17 women’s pentathlon to the long jump she won last month. And better, the winning total of 3865 points not only did that, it was also the third best of all-time and an age 15 UK record. Fabulous! “I’m amazed,” she said. “That was a real shock. I knew the last two events are my best but I didn’t know I’d go quite so well,” she laughed, adding that she now has eyes on the Euros this summer in perhaps the long jump or the multi events, “depending, of course, if it goes on,” she added.
Event by event
U17 women's pentathlon
Right from the off Gabby Dickinson (Cardiff, Anthony Lee) demonstrated that everyone in Sheffield meant business as usual as she flew to a PB 8.82 in the 60 hurdles, just shy of the time she ran in her bronze medal winning performance at last month’s national champs.
Of course, this is all about consistency over five events and when Ella Rush is in the line-up you better watch out. She opened her account, slightly adrift of Gabby with a 9.12 before easing to the lead after a superb competition in the high jump (she was third in that event at the national champs last month) where she cleared 1.63m. So, after two events (1656pt to 1627pts) she led from Rhiana Burrell (Birchfield, Pam Rayment) who cleared the same height.
Ella increased that lead following a solid 11.88m shot before she jumped out to a what was effectively a competition ending 5.86m in the long jump with the very first jump in that pool. Fellow competitors could and would get close, but none were able to go further, the best response coming from Lucy Robinson (Stockport, Joe Frost) with 5.70m. So, into the final event Ella had 3116pts from Rhiana 2875pts, thanks to her 5.20m jump.
Those numbers said one significant thing: anything pretty standard from Ella in the 800 metres could move her up from the fourth she already occupied to perhaps second or as it turned out third all-time. So, it was no surprise she positioned herself handily in second place for the four laps, clearly focussed on the job in hand, a stride behind heat winner Lucy’s 2:25.60 at the finish. For Lucy that moved her to second overall (3608pts), while Ella’s was a PB 2:25.63 - strong running from a strong athlete. Rhiana Burrell (Birchfield Harriers, Pam Rayment) took 3rd with strong field events keeping her in contention for most of the day.
- Gold: Ella Rush (3865 points)
- Silver: Lucy Robinson (3608 points)
- Bronze: Rhiana Burrell (3543 points)
U17 men's heptathlon (day 1)
As in the women’s sprint hurdles, Oliver D'Rozario (Taunton, Steve Shaw) was similarly keen to get things going quickly as he ripped to a PB, 7.27 in the 60 metres, the first of the seven events in this two-day competition. Behind him Sammy Ball (Reading, Mike Tyler) was also in PB shape as he stopped the watch at 7.40, ominous form given his U15 championship best performance when taking gold in the U15 boys’ event last year. “But it’s notoriously difficult to move up age groups in this event,” warned an England team selector watching from the crowd. One thing was for sure, it would be a fascinating two days and difficult to predict a winner.
Indeed, the enthusiastic crowd had no time to catch their breath as the long jump almost immediately produced a string of personal bests – three in a row at one point. Up at the sharp end, first Sammy flew out to 6.50m, good for a mightily impressive 697 points. Then, not to be outdone Harry Crosby (Southampton, Andy Fisher), ranked joint second indoors this season, touched down at 6.55m, as did Alfie Edwards (Wakefield District H, Chris Bedford/Terry Priduex). But almost unnoticed in all of this was Oliver who quietly got about the business in hand – stretching the lead, as he followed up his sharp 60m with a 6.40m leap, meaning that it was Oliver who went to the shot circle in the lead by 10 points (1464) from Harry (1454), while Joe Frew (Reading, Michael Dyer), who followed up his 7.33 60 metres with a 6.39m jump and Sammy, were tied back on 1442. Close.
Oliver then increased his lead in that shot, opening up with a personal best 11.86m. “It must be all the gym work I’m doing,” he joked, clearly pleased with the way everything was clicking into place. Behind him Harry hung tough with 11.22m as did Sammy with 11.16m. All of which meant that after three, it looked like this: 1, D’Rozario 2062; 2, Crosby 2013; 3eq, Ball and Alfie Ward (Blyth Running Club, Dan Njai Rowney), 1988.
But as is so often the case, one event can prove significant - potentially the high jump in this instance. That’s because Sammy seized the moment and scaled 1.84m well ahead of the long-time leader Oliver, who had to bow out after easily clearing 1.75m. That first drop in form all day dropped him to third (2647), although he is still very much in the hunt. For Sammy, however, it meant he took over as leader with 2659pts after occupying third compared to Harry’s 2649pts who also jumped well, clearing 1.81. Down the order Oliver Early (Chelmsford, Jade Harding) went over 1.87 for a top 10 in the UK jump.
With pole vault to come on Sunday and all the drama that event creates this is far from over. See you then for more action to find out!