21 May 2012
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Mike Holmes) and Emily Dudgeon (John Lees) produced two of the most inspired performances of the day for the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland Junior team at a star-packed Loughborough International.
The Under 20 squad responded to the challenge of this crucial waypoint to this summer’s World Junior Championship in brilliant fashion, with nine personal bests demolished on the way.
Five athletes also achieved the qualifying standards for the World Championships in Barcelona - Dudgeon and Johnson-Thompson in the 800m and long jump (2:03.28 and 6.46m respectively), James Gladman (James Hillier), 13.72 in the 110m Hurdles; Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon), 8:43 in the 3000m steeplechase; Jazmin Sawyers (Tony Williams), 6.28m in the long jump.
Liverpool Harrier Johnson-Thompson was top of the class in the long jump, setting a new PB and beating a class field including England’s Jade Johnson. She also went on to run 13.84 in the 100m hurdles, just 0.16s shy of her lifetime best, despite a headwind that affected several other performances throughout the day.
The Olympic hopeful heptathlete praised her coach for his work on her weaker events and highlighted her improvements in recent months.
“We have been focusing on what are not my strongest events and on my speed in general and I got a new PB in the 200m. I have been improving also in the events where I was doing well and hopefully that is going to help my heptathlon.”
Edinburgh AC’s Dudgeon shaved more than three seconds off her personal best in the 800m, where only a strong Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) could finish ahead of the GB junior athlete’s time of 2:03.28.
“I put myself under a lot of pressure today” said Dudgeon. “I knew it was my big chance to be in a fast race and I had to take the opportunity. My exams start soon, the trials are soon after so from here it’s heads down for the work side of it.”
Notable performers also included Pippa Woolven (Janet Nash), who tore her previous 3000m steeplechase benchmark of 11:07.34, to shreds with a vastly improved time of 10:21.24 and personal bests by Kirsten McAslan (400m), Jessica Lonsdale (3000m), Jennifer Walsh (1500m) and Shadine Duquemin (Discus).
The men’s events also brought excellent results to the Aviva GB &NI team. Adam Gemili (Michael Afilaka) battled the headwind to win the 100m race in 10.43, edging ahead of fellow junior David Bolarinwa (John Powell) and displaying a great deal of confidence.
“I had a good training this winter in the USA and now I’ve come back to England to keep making good times, even though the conditions are sometimes not ideal” said the Blackheath & Bromley athlete.
“I have been working hard with my coach and my group to fix my technique – my objective for the season is making the world junior team. It’s my last chance and I am going to try and make it in both 100 and 200.”
PBs were broken on both the track and the field, with Matthew Lavoipierre (Billy Jeweres) lowering his benchmark in the 400m hurdles to 53.03 and Aidan Reynolds (David Parker) adding more than three metres to his javelin best.
Team leader Alan Richardson had plenty of reasons to be pleased about the team’s results.
“It was a great way to open the season, there were plenty of promising performances that make us look forward to the World Junior Championships,” he said.
“Emily Dudgeon’s performance in the 800m was excellent and the men’s relays were really smooth, those were the two outstanding events from our team in my view, but overall it was a very solid performance from everyone.
"These great performances and the number of close attempts make me sure this is the start of a very successful summer for these junior athletes."