19th August 2021


British U18 athlete Owen Merrett (coach: Matt Spicer, club: Yate) produced one of the standout performances of the day, setting four personal bests during his junior hammer victory, and Sam Brereton won the senior high jump competition for the GB&NI U20 team, as the Great Britain and Northern Ireland U20 team finished second overall at the 2021 Manchester International.

It was a successful day for shot putters with Olympian Sophie McKinna returning to competition with a stadium record as the British champion represented overall team winners England in the women’s shot put at the Manchester Regional Arena.

Always a busy event programme, this year’s event took place in fairly gloomy conditions in but that didn’t stop the Great Britain and Northern Ireland U18 and U20 team shining under the afternoon and evening spotlights.

There were several standout performances during over eight hours of action-packed competition, including in the shot put circle where Merrett furthered his 5kg hammer personal best four times en-route to victory in the men’s junior event.

From his round three throw of 70.31m onwards, it was PB after PB for Merrett who ended the competition with his best throw and new lifetime best of 73m to add nearly three metres to the 5kg best he entered the competition with.

The Yate athlete was one of a number of GB U18 and U20 athletes to record victories at The Manchester International which included victory for Sam Brereton (Fuzz Caan, Birchfield) in the senior high jump competition. The European U20 bronze medallist was the only athlete to clear 2.12m in the men’s high jump, which was achieved with a clean record throughout until three fouls at his attempt to surpass his PB of 2.18m. Luke Ball (Jeremy Dale, Yate) equalled his 2.03m PB to finish second in the junior equivalent.

Speaking after winning the senior competition, Brereton said: “It felt nice to jump well in tricky conditions. It’s been a good year, I’ve been pretty consistent so it’s been good in that sense. I’ve not jumped as high as I wanted to but I managed to pull a medal out at the Euros which I was very happy with and kept it consistent enough in the big competitions to do well.”

The other GB Junior victories in the senior events came in the two 100m ambulant races with Kevin Santos (City of Norwich) [T47] knocking 0.1 seconds off his 100m PB to win the men’s event in a time of 11.66 (-0.2m/s), while Bebe Jackson (Michelle Dawson, Harlow) [T44] took the win in the women’s event in 14.60 (-0.8m/s).

Staying on the track and there was a 1500m double for the GB Juniors with Abigail Ives (Basildon) and David Race (John Stephenson, Gateshead) both taking maximum points in their respective races. Ives looked composed throughout her race, leading from the front, but, a late charge from England’s Keira Brady-Jones meant, the Basildon athlete had to work hard in the final 50m to ensure she earned maximum points with a winning time of 4:23.99.

David Race was next to take to the track in the men’s equivalent and his win came in the form of a very different style to the one Ives celebrated just a few minutes before. Race gave everything in the closing stages and had to dig deep to find the strength and pace needed to not only reel in the lone athlete out front but then pass his fellow chasers to take the win with a fantastic show of strength down the final 100m.

European U20 100m bronze medallist Joy Eze (Michael Donnelly, Gateshead) was another GB Junior to secure maximum points, claiming a brilliant victory in the women’s junior 100m. Competing in her first race since setting the European U18 lead at the U20 Europeans, Eze cruised to victory in a time of 11.71 (-1.7m/s).

Emily Newnham (Shaftesbury Barnet) was one of the day’s earliest winners on the track in the Women’s junior 400m Hurdles, fighting back in the final 100m and powering off the final hurdle to edge past Scotland’s Rachel Callan on the line to win in a time of 1:00.49.

Speaking after the race, Newnham said: “It obviously wasn’t one of the best times I’ve done but it was a good race and obviously the weather hasn’t really helped but it feels good. I trusted the training I’ve done and the races I’ve done in the past and I just felt like I had a little bit left to go and I didn’t obviously want to walk away knowing that so I just gave what I could at the end.”

It was victory, maximum points and a new personal best for Joe O’Brien (City of York) in only his second ever track 5000m race. The City of York athlete won convincingly in a time of 14:14.65 to knock over four seconds off his 5000m track debut time earlier this summer.

Maximum points in the women’s junior 200m went to Sophie Walton (Trevor Williams, Horwich) who stopped the clock in a time of 24.18 (-1.0m/s). There was also a win for Katie Johnson (Edinburgh) in the women’s junior 800m, 2:11.96 was her winning time.

There were more wins in the field events for the GB Juniors including in both the women’s and men’s junior javelin events which were won by Sophie Hamilton (Ken Holmes, Mendip) and Callum Taylor (Bronwin Carter, City of Portsmouth).

Maximum points were also earned by teammate Gemma Tutton (Richard Pilling, Lewes) in the women’s junior pole vault, clearing 3.72m at the second attempt to claim the victory.

Dafydd Pawlett (Lucy Griffiths, Pembrokeshire) added an extra six centimetres on to his shot put personal best to win the junior event with a distance of 17.76m, while Rhys Allen (David Callaway, Newham and Essex Beagles) won the junior discus with a distance of 49.99m.

It was a case of saving the best to last for Oreofeoluwa Adepegba (Chris Jessener, Basildon) who won a thrilling men’s junior long jump title with a best distance of 7.10m.

Ella Rush (Amber Valley and Erewash) set a personal best of 5.93m to finish second in the women’s junior long jump. There was also a hammer PB for GB Junior Lily Murray (Swale Combined) as she threw 55.26m to finish second in the junior women’s event.

In the junior 400m Hurdles final, GB Junior Onyekachukwu Okoh (Jade Harding, Chelmsford) lowered his lifetime best to 50.08, finishing second. Hannah Hopper (Noel Carmody, Cambridge Harriers) knocked 38 seconds off her PB in the senior women’s 5000m race walk (4th, 25:56.06).

European U20 bronze and gold medallist Success Eduan (Anita Richardson, Sale Harriers Manchester) finished second in the senior women’s 200m behind England’s U17 athlete Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (Harrow), who completed a superb sprint double with wins and PBs in both the 100m (11.56, -0.4m/s) and 200m (23.59, -1.9m/s).

Eduan was also part of the women’s 4x100m relay team with Joy Eze, Aleeya Sibbons (Coral Nourrice, Newham and Essex Beagles) and Sophie Walton (Trevor Williams, Horwich) which finished second, stopping the clock in 45.64.

The men’s 4x400m relay team of Alex Cooper (Grant Barker, Birchfield), Samuel Reardon (Nigel Stickings, Blackheath and Bromley), Reuben Henry-Daire (Paul Herrington, Reading AC) and Charlie Carvell (Stuart Hamilton, Telford) finished third in the senior final in a time of 3:07.86.

With all the events completed and all the points calculated, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Juniors finished second in the overall points standings with 305 points, 91.5 points ahead of third-placed Wales, and 90 points behind 2021 champions England.

In other notable performances, Sophie McKinna (Mike Winch, Great Yarmouth/Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) won the shot put with a stadium record of 18.47m, the third longest distance of her career. “I’m really pleased to get an outdoor season’s best and a stadium record,” she said.

England’s Efe Okoro (Tony Hadley, Birchfield) joined the growing list of British athletes to run 400m in under 46 seconds this year, stopping the clock in a new lifetime best of 45.94 to win the senior men’s 400m final. GB Junior Charlie Carvell (Stuart Hamilton, Telford) was third.

Speaking after breaking 46 seconds for the first time in his career, Okoro said: “Thanks to my coach Tony Hadley, the plan is coming together. My coach sets it up so that I peak at this time of year and I’m ecstatic about breaking 46. This is my favourite competition of the year, so I’m over the moon.”

Complete results from the Manchester International can be viewed via the Roster Results app.