10th August 2023
CAPTAIN OBAMAKINWA FOURTH ON FINAL MORNING OF EURO U20S
British team captain Zara Obamakinwa (coach: Mark Chapman, club: Blackheath & Bromley) went through the cruellest of fates as she finished an agonising fourth in a dramatic women’s discus on the final morning of the European Under-20 Championships in Jerusalem while teammate Luke Ball (Jeremy Dale, Yate) was eighth in the men’s high jump.
Obamakinwa battled back to place herself in bronze medal position going into the sixth and final round of throws in the women’s discus final at the Givat Ram Stadium after a fifth round 53.44m only for Curly Brown, who was in fifth, to throw 53.93m to take gold as part of a German sweep and cruelly push the British team captain down to fourth.
Ball meanwhile enjoyed his equal second best ever performance in the men’s high jump final as he cleared 2.12m to place eighth overall. He also attempted a height better than his personal best of 2.14m for just the second time ever in the Holy City but agonisingly missed out, coming extremely close with the first attempt of his three at 2.15m.
Sandwiched in between Ball and Obamakinwa’s finals, the women’s 4x100m relay quartet of Renee Regis (Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai, BFT Track Academy), Sophie Walton (Trevor Williams, Horwich), Joy Eze (Gateshead/Harrow), Success Eduan (Anita Richardson, Sale Harriers Manchester) cruised to this evening’s final fastest in 44.24 seconds.
Obamakinwa had to wait until almost midday in Jerusalem for the women’s discus final to begin but, when it did, she started brilliantly, throwing herself straight into third place with an opening effort of 51.60m.
Despite not bettering that opening mark, she was consistent through the first three rounds to guarantee a further three throws, with efforts of 50.46m and 50.99, which at that point had her in fifth overall.
Obamakinwa fouled with her fourth attempt but powered her way into the medal mix with a fifth-round effort of 53.44m. Now fifth in the running order after the reset at halfway, neither France’s Marie Josee Bovele Linaka nor Brown could better her in the penultimate round.
The British captain unfortunately fouled with her last attempt and breathed ever so slightly easier after Bovele Linaka up next could only manage 51.71m. The cruel twist came with Brown’s final effort as she threw 53.93m to take gold and sadly push Obamakinwa down to an agonising fourth.
Obamakinwa was also just two centimetres away from eventual bronze medallist Lea Bork with less than half a metre separating the top four. She said: “I am proud of myself definitely. I am currently dealing with an Achilles problem which flared up when I got here. We were doing everything we could to try and get me in the best shape.
“It is frustrating to be in the medals and then not but glory to God. I got here, I have done everything I could of. As a team captain I feel a little bit down about it but I really, really did try my best, there is actually nothing more I could have given.
“Mark [her coach] said he was proud. If not for the Achilles maybe something could have happened but you can’t dwell on what ifs. On the day it happened but I will definitely come back stronger.”
The men’s high jump final featuring Ball began at a height of 2.00m with the Brit sailing over as only one athlete from the whole field who attempted didn’t clear first time. Ball was also smooth first time as the bar moved up to 2.05m.
With another four centimetres added, Ball cleared 2.09m with one attempt as well before going up to 2.12m – a height he has bettered once this season, which was his 2.14m personal best. He had to drink in the last chance saloon at 2.12m after fouling with his first two efforts.
However, that was no problem for Ball, who produced a great third jump to progress to the next height of 2.15m, which would be a personal best. Unfortunately, Ball couldn’t clear with his three attempts but did come mightily close with his first as he seemingly just clipped the bar.
One of a number of debutants on the British team for these European Under-20 Championships in Jerusalem, Ball would place eighth in the final with 2.12m the second best height he has recorded this season.
He said: “Coming here my aim was to make the final so I thought I would just go for it. My PB is 2.14m and I wanted that 2.15m. I was close but overall I am pretty happy. That first one [at 2.15m] I thought for a second I was going to get it. Halfway over I thought it could be it but not quite.
“It gives me confidence though coming up, I am sure I can get over that PB of 2.14m. I haven’t actually decided [if he will compete again this season]. We thought we would come here and see what happens and maybe decide then.
“At the minute I am leaning towards finishing up because it has been quite a long season for me anyway indoors and outdoors. When I did my PB, I attempted 2.16m so that is the second time I’ve attempted it but 2.12m is my second best of all-time. I feel like I haven’t done badly so I am pretty happy.
“It has been so different to what I am used to – firstly the heat. I have never been so hot in a competition. I had cooling spray, cold towel, bucket of ice – trying to keep myself cold. But also doing qualifying and a final, I have never done that before. I am pretty happy I managed to do qualifying, do pretty well and jump better in the final even though I had a little bit of tired legs.”
With Ball competing in the men’s high jump final on the infield, the British women’s 4x100m relay quartet took to the track in the second of two heats. Silver medallist over the 100m here in Jerusalem, Regis got the team off to a great start on the first leg from lane seven.
She handed over to Walton who powered down the backstraight overtaking the Slovenian team in lane eight by the time she was superbly exchanging to the new European under-20 100m champion Eze.
Eze built a strong lead on that third and handed over to Eduan – just over 12 hours on from her bronze in the 200m – who was equally as brilliant on the anchor to stop the clock in 44.24 for a great win in that heat.
That time was over half a second ahead of Swiss quartet in their heat and also ranked them first overall going into this evening’s final during the last session of these Championships by 0.15 ahead of Germany.
Regis said: “It was good. All the changeovers were smooth, and we got the baton around safely, so we are happy with it.”
Walton added: “It was really fun to get back on the track and do the relay with amazing girls. It was really smooth and we will bring that into the final.”
100m champion, Eze, commented: “It was really, really good. I am very confident in our team. All of our changeovers have been smooth in practice and we were able to replicate it on the track so we know what we can bring for the final.”
Eduan said: “I got the job done for the girls – very satisfied. I think we were all doing very smooth and safe changeovers so now it is just up to the final”
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists:
Gold:  Joy Eze [Women’s 100m]
Silver:  Renee Regis [Women’s 100m], Charlie Carvell [Men’s 400m]
Bronze:  Sean Anyaogu [Men’s 100m], Bradley Giblin [Men’s 3000m], Success Eduan [Women’s 200m], Michael Allison [Men’s javelin]