17 June 2010
A quartet of impressive UK juniors are ranked in world’s top three going into this weekend’s Aviva England Under-20 Championships and World Trials (Saturday 19/Sunday 20 June).
Jodie Williams (coach: Mike McFarlane), the World Youth Championships double gold medallist in 2009, has set the standard with a world leading 22.79 in the 200m this year.
The 16-year-old Herts Phoenix athlete, who leads the UK senior rankings over both 100m and 200m, has had an outstanding season to date. Not only has she erased the UK All-Time marks in the under-17 age-group, she’s also smashed the under-20 national best over 100m with a super-quick 11.24 at the CAU Inter Counties on 31 May.
Jack Meredith (coach: Donald Moss), last year’s runner up and currently ranked world junior number one over the 110mH, will be looking to emulate last year’s champion Lawrence Clarke (coach: Malcolm Arnold) who went on to win European Junior Championships gold later that summer, and he’s enjoyed text book progression to date.
Having led the UK rankings as an under-17 in 2008, he climbed to second with a best of 13.51 over the junior height in 2009, and already this year he’s smashed the UK junior record, clocking 13.32 for victory in the recent IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo a fortnight ago (under-20 showcase event). He’s the only athlete to have achieved the UKA World Juniors qualifying mark to date.
The only member of the quartet to be defending their England Under-20 Championships title is UK junior record holder Sophie Hitchon (coach: Derek Evely), who has six from eight victories to her name in 2010.
The 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games hammer champion, who went on to take European Junior Championships bronze in 2009, re-wrote the UK record books with an impressive 65.98m effort in Germany on May 15 and is on target to make it a hat trick of victories in the Bedford event.
In the 3000mSC, US-based Matthew Graham (coach: Patrick Savage), although a second and a half outside of the required UK standard, is currently ranked third in the world junior rankings courtesy of his 8:51.98 lifetime best in May. The bronze medallist in Bedford 12 months ago, he’s the only UK under-20 to have clocked sub-nine minutes in 2010 to date.
Although not competing in this weekend’s Trials, it’s worth noting that David Guest (coach: Michael Guest), the England Athletics combined events champion, has achieved a lifetime best of 7727 points in the decathlon in 2010 and is ranked number one in the world in the under-20 age group with the senior implements.
In addition to potentially brilliant individual performances, there are likely to be some exciting races on the weekend programme.
While Jodie Williams is undoubtedly a podium favourite going into July’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada - in addition to her 200m lead time she’s also ranked third in the world to date (under-20) for the 100m - she’s going to be joined in the selection battle by Shaunna Thompson (coach: Robert Gaisie), who’s also achieved the UKA qualifying standard for both events.
The pair, who are likely to line up this weekend alongside Ashlee Nelson (coach: Michael Afilaka) and Annie Tagoe (coach: Connie Henry, Clarence Callender) – both with the standard - in the 100m, and Emily Diamond (coach: Jared Deacon) and Jennie Batten (coach: Roger Walters) in the 200m, also with the required mark, will still need to battle it out for the Trials victory. It should be noted however that Tagoe, runner up in the Youth Olympic Games European Trials in May (under-18), will compete in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August and will not be considered for selection for the World Juniors.
In the 400mH, the UK’s top two juniors go head to head in a battle for selection. Jack Green (coach: June Plews), the current number one, clocked a new PB of 51.49 - one-hundredth of a second inside the World Juniors standard - to go to the top of the UK under-20 rankings at the McCain Loughborough International in May. He’ll line up against Niall Flannery (coach: Nick Dakin), fourth in last summer’s European Junior Championships, who’ll be aiming to come close to his lifetime best of 51.07.
Moving up to the endurance events, the men’s 800m could be one of the most exciting races of the day with just over half a second splitting the top trio. Only one athlete, Niall Brooks (coach: Norman Poole), has achieved the required standard within the qualification period to date, but both Stuart Ross (coach: Bill Parker) and James Bowness (coach: Tony Ward) have made huge gains in 2010 and are only marginally outside of the 1:48.5 mark. There are three inside the 3:44.00 standard for the 1500m, but with Brooks likely to focus on the 800m and US-based Tom Farrell (coach: Andy Farrell) - currently UK number one (under-20) - still in the States, the door is open for Harry Ellis (coach: Phil Hicken) with a best of 3:43.91 to take the victory and automatic selection spot.
In the women’s pole vault, UK junior record holder Holly Bleasdale (coach: Julien Raffalli-Ebezant) should be in a class of her own. She was devastated to miss out on last year’s European Junior Championships due to injury, but looks likely to make up for it in Canada this summer. She achieved her first UK junior pole vault record of the season (4.25m) at the McCain Loughborough International in May and has since exceeded that mark to take the new national best to 4.27m, 17cm above the qualifying standard for the World Junior Championships.
28 athletes have achieved UKA qualifying standard for the IAAF World Junior Championships (Moncton, Canada, 19-25 July 2010), within the 2010 qualification period to date.
Automatic selection will be given to the first eligible athlete past the post in the relevant Trials event provided that they achieve a UKA qualification standard from 1 April 2010 up to and including the Trials.
The team will be picked in two selection waves; the first wave on Tuesday 22 June with the final selection on Monday 5 July 2010 and up to two athletes per event can be selected.