9th August 2023


Dan Galloway (coach: Stuart Hamilton, club: Telford AC) and Sam Mills (Harry Mills, Exeter), placed sixth and 11th respectively in the men’s 1500m on the penultimate morning at the European Under-20 Championships while Sam Lunt (Andrew Fraser, Wirral) smashed his personal best as the British team secured a further five places in finals in Jerusalem.

In the one final of the session with British interest, Galloway and Mills had to navigate a slow run race in the men’s 1500m final before a fast finish. Galloway picked through the field to move from tenth to sixth in 4:03.19 minutes while Mills battled valiantly to finish 11th in 4:08.46 – both Brits making their major junior international track debut.

Meanwhile Sammy Ball’s (Michael Dyer, Reading) campaign began in the decathlon with the first of three events. He progressed up through the overall standings to sixth – and 2471 points – after a strong shot put, throwing a best of 14.75m, having been ninth after running 10.91 (3.5) in the 100m first up and then 12th after a leap of 7.01m in the long jump.

Elsewhere Lunt brilliantly lowered his personal best in the semi-finals of the men’s 400m hurdles, qualifying automatically for the final after a storming run of 51.19, while Emily Newnham (Nick Dakin, Shaftesbury Barnet) was just 0.02 away from hers as she guaranteed she’ll battle for a medal in the women’s 400m hurdles with a time of 57.15.

Brook Cronin (Andrew Kennard, Walton) would have also set a new personal best had it not been for an 3.2m/s wind as he powered to the final of the men’s 200m, winning his heat in 20.91 to rank second overall. Team captain Zara Obamakinwa (Mark Chapman, Blackheath & Bromley) cruised to the women’s discus final, needing just two attempts and a best of 51.03m.

The British men’s 4x400m relay team of Alex Houchin (Mike Bennett, Worcester), Jake Minshull (Coventry), Otis Irwin (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) and David Race (Kyle Bennett, Gateshead) were also supremely impressive as they dominated their heat in 3:09.16 to qualify second overall.

In total the British team secured a further five finals places on the penultimate morning and, highest-placed finisher in sixth in the men’s 1500m, Galloway said: “I think we came through the first 400m in 73 [seconds]. That is training pace, easy pace, and then with about 800m to go Niels [Laros, NED] came to the front and it went off. I waited at the back because I knew if I went with them with 800m to go I wouldn’t have anything left for the last lap.

“I was probably in last for the whole second to last lap but on the last lap I started to come through because everyone who went with Niels couldn’t hold it. I managed to pull myself through the field a bit more.

“This is our biggest major track champs together. I know Sam has done a lot of cross-country. A lot of it is gaining experience for the first time, learning how a lot of other people race.

“In GB you know what you are going to get but you come to this and you are doing 73 second laps and it is walking. It is gaining different experiences to be able to learn and adapt to the new style of racing I guess.”

The men’s 1500m final featuring Galloway and Mills went off extremely slow, the field going through the first 300m in over 53 seconds. At this point Mills placed himself third while Galloway was settled nearer the back.

It was still very slow with two laps to go, which made it increasingly likely a fast finish was coming. Moves started to be made with two laps to go and with 700m to go the tempo did up and the field started to string out, lead by Dutch favourite Niels Laros.

The British pair kept at it and Galloway would pick through the field right up to the finish line as he went from tenth to finish sixth in 4:03.19. Mills battled valiantly himself and would place 11th in 4:08.46.

Mills said: “It was slow racing and with the favourite moving to the front it was never going to be a clean race. There was a bit of jostling but that is no excuse for coming last in a race like that. I’ve never experienced a race like that, but coming from GB – we’ve medalled how many years in a row – and to not deliver on that hurts a bit.”

Ball opened his campaign in the decathlon with the 100m and was forced to wait to get out of the blocks after a false start from Petr Svoboda of the Czech Republic. The race went off second time around and Ball clocked 10.91 for sixth in that fourth heat of four.

That gave him 881 points for ninth overall with the long jump next up for the Brit in short of half an hour. Ball appeared to hold his upper right leg after the 100m but came out for the long jump and produced a best of 7.01m to place 12th overall 1697 points.

He got a feel for the runway with an opening effort of 5.92m before steadily improving to 6.52m and that 7.01m effort last time out. The third event of his morning was the shot put where he made clear headway into the overall standings.

Ball threw 14.75m with his first effort to announce his intentions before following up with a foul and then a final distance of 14.35m. That mark of 14.75m saw him jump from 12th to sixth with his total of 2471 points just 11 away from the top three with seven events to go.

Lunt was drawn in the third of the three semi-finals in the men’s 400m hurdles, which would turn out to be packed full of drama. Lunt was strong and in the mix for qualification through the first 200m with Germany’s Lasse Schmitt in three lanes over pulling up around the bend.

Lunt was second coming out of the bend and wouldn’t let it go – Spain’s Victor Blanco stumbling at the death as he tried but failed to get ahead of the Brit. Lunt let out a roar after the finish and rightly so as he set a personal best of 51.19.

That was 0.27 better than his previous best set at the start of June and a brilliant achievement for the 17-year-old. Teammate Onyeka Okoh (Julia Benterman, Chelmsford) ran in the second semi-final but, despite running a season’s best 51.76 in fourth place, he would not advance to the final.

Moments later Newnham was back out on the track and ran smoothly to automatically book her own place in a final in the women’s 400m hurdles. Improving on her time from the heat, Newnham’s smooth race saw her finish second with plenty of distance back to third.

She clocked 57.15 – just 0.02 outside of her own personal best that she set exactly a month ago in winning bronze at the UK Athletics Championships in Manchester – to rank fourth overall. Newnham said: “I have been really trying to focus on getting to hurdle five on [my] stride pattern.

“This season has been such a mess with stride patterns because I am still learning the event. To have two smooth runs – heats and semi-finals – to hurdle five is great. I am really happy with how that felt. To come out and run that time in the semi-final, I am happy with that.

“When you have heats and semis, especially with hurdles, it is so difficult because you need to pace the event but, when you are focussing on stride pattern, how do you pace it? So with the final I am going to run fast, that’s it. There’s no stress about ‘let me get to hurdle five’ – nothing – just run fast.”

Cronin was the last British athlete out on the track on the penultimate morning in the Holy City but it was worth the wait as he stormed to victory in the first of two semi-finals in the men’s 200m.

The wind may have been an illegal 3.2m/s but he ran the race superbly, clocking a rapid 20.91 at the line for victory and to overall rank second – the 19-year-old unbeaten so far in two outings at the Givat Ram Stadium.

He said: “I had to run my own race because I was in the outside lane [seven] and I didn’t have too many people to chase. I would have preferred lane six. You have just got to deal with the cards you are dealt. I executed the race and qualified. It feels pretty good and hopefully I get a good lane for the final. I want to give it my all for the final, pray for good winds and execute the race.”

There was a dramatic start to the second men’s 4x400m relay heat as the field was recalled after starting however the Dutch opening runner didn’t realise until almost 200m. The result was a delay to allow for his recovery while Turkey were disqualified for a false start.

Houchin finally got the British team underway and ran a smart opening leg to hand over to Minshull in second. He powered to the front immediately after receiving the baton and created a huge lead – ten metres ahead of France in second and even bigger over the rest.

Irwin ran superbly to maintain the lead on the penultimate leg before handing over to Race, who did exactly the same. The British team would cruise to a time of 3:09.16 and qualify for the final comfortably as the second quickest overall.

Team captain Obamakinwa was placed in qualification Group B in the women’s discus, which gave her the benefit of knowing what 11 others in the field had done. She would cruise through with a first round best of 51.03m.

Obamakinwa threw 50.18m second time out and then chose to pass her third attempt with a place in the final 24 hours later effectively secured. Her best effort of 51.03m would rank her fifth overall following the two qualification groups.

She said: “The goal was just to get through and qualify. I am feeling a couple of niggles which I am going to go and get sorted out so hopefully I can rest up for the final and smash it tomorrow.”

Charlotte Kelsey (Glynn Williams, Middlesbrough) ran a strong opener for the British 4x400m relay quartet as they were drawn in the first of two heats. She handed over to Indienne King (Trevor Painter, Wigan & District) in a good position as she then slotted into fourth place as the field came together.

King stalked the lead three nations and began picking them off to hand over to Jess Astill (Paul Keeble, Stevenage & North Herts), making her first appearance on the track in Israel, with the team in third. Astill stormed through the first 100m to reclaim second before she went about hunting down leaders France.

With four in a line behind each other as the third leg came to a close, finishing in the top-three and securing automatic qualification became important, and Astill powered around the final bend of her leg to give the British team the lead.

Iris Downes (Colin Lancaster, Shrewsbury) took the handover and surged ahead, putting daylight between France in pursuit of that top three. The field fought back down the home straight but Downes dug deep and used every inch of her at the line to take third place. At the time it qualified them automatically for the final however the quartet would later unfortunately be disqualified for a lane infringement.

Debutant Lucy Fellows (Zac Harrop, Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) was the first British athlete to compete as the Championships officially ticked past the halfway mark as she set about qualifying for the women’s long jump final.

She opened up with an effort of 6.02m before improving to 6.10m in round two. She jumped 6.02m again with her last attempt to place seventh in qualification Group A and unfortunately missed out on the top-12 needed to progress to the final in 17th overall.


The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists:

Gold: [1] Joy Eze [Women’s 100m]

Silver: [1] Renee Regis [Women’s 100m]

Bronze: [1] Sean Anyaogu [Men’s 100m]