The £10,000 prize pot is only the tip of the iceberg of opportunity awaiting the really successful competitors at the UK Challenge ThrowsFest at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, on Sunday 1 July.
Their performances will earn points and prizes – and potentially places in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland teams at this summer’s major championships.
There were no throwers in the first wave of selections for the Norwich Union GB&NI team for the European Under 23 Championships to be staged in Debrecen, Hungary, on 12-15 July – and the Fest will be their last opportunity to impress the selectors.
There are also ten vacancies for throwers in the Norwich Union GB&NI team for the European Junior Championships in Hengelo, Netherlands, on 19-22 July. Of those already selected:
- Discus thrower Brett Morse (Cardiff AAC) is in the Fest elite competition along with the reigning UK Challenge champion Emeka Udechuku (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies);
- Hammer training mates James Bedford (Kingston-upon-Hull AC) and Alex Smith (Sale Harriers Manchester) will renew battle while seniors Mike Floyd (Sale Harriers Manchester) and Simon Bown (Newham and Essex Beagles) will have a rehearsal for next week’s BAL Premiership match at the same venue;
- James Campbell (Cheltenham and County) is the only Junior in the elite javelin, in which reigning Challenge champion Steve McLellan (Stevenage and North Herts) can also expect tough opposition from Lee Doran (City of Sheffield), Anthony Lovett (Enfield and Haringey) and Mervyn Luckwell (Marshall Milton Keynes);
- Fresh from her shot and discus double at the Norwich Union England Athletics Under 20 Championships, Eden Francis (Leicester Coritanian) has signed-up for both elite competitions. With Becky Peake giving the comp a miss, this is Francis’s chance to go top of the Challenge rankings – though there’s no shortage of seniors seeking to put the teenager in her place! The presence of reigning champion Jo Duncan (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), European Cup heroine Eva Massey (Belgrave Harriers) and Scottish champion Alison Rodger (Sale) helps explain why this meeting has become acknowledged as the premier throws competition in the UK.
The Fest also provides a fantastic learning experience for four of the throwers heading for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 11-5 July:
- Under 17 shot prospects Curtis Griffith-Parker (Cambridge Harriers) and Michael Wheeler (Herne Hill Harriers) get a chance to line-up against the UK senior record holder Carl Myerscough (Blackpool and Fylde AC), fresh from an encouraging start to his injury-delayed season at the European Cup Super League.
- Peter Smith (Kingston-upon-Hull AC) is in the hammer, in which he is getting accustomed to rivalling his older brother and other training partners.
- Shaunagh Brown (Blackheath and Bromley) concentrates on the discus, which has attracted all four rivals currently above her in the Challenge standings: European Cup representative Kara Nwidobie (Blackpool and Fylde), reigning Challenge champion Emma Carpenter (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow), Junior Champ Francis and Scotland’s Kirsty Law (Shaftesbury Barnet);
- Sophie Hitchon (Pendle AC), who has improved the UK Under 17 hammer record dramatically this summer, is in the Fest B competition while in the Elite event, Welsh international Laura Douglas (Sale) will aim to get among the current top five in the Challenge rankings – the dominant Zoe Derham (Birchfield), Sarah Holt (Sale), Carys Parry, Rachel Gair (Mansfield) and Victoria Thomas (Blackheath and Bromley).
For the full details of the UK Challenge ThrowsFest, please click here