20th July 2019


Amy Hunt (coach: Joe McDonnell; club: Charnwood), Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn; Enfield & Haringey) and Josh Zeller (Adrian Brown; Bracknell AC) stormed to gold as it rained medals for the British team on the third night of the European Under-20 Championships in Boras.

European U20 leader & British U20 record holder Hunt stood up to the pre-race favourite hype, delivering a supreme display to win the women’s 200m in 22.93s (-1.7). After sailing through the heats and semi-finals, she pressed well early on, having a slight advantage over her rivals coming off the bend. The excellent form of the Charnwood athlete shone through as she remained composed to seal the European title.

Hunt said soon after her gold-medal moment: “It is crazy. I am so, so happy. I am absolutely over the moon, this has been the goal all year and I have been working really hard towards it and to come here and execute everything perfectly, I couldn’t ask for more.

“I had an amazing start for once, really powered around the first bit of the bend and tried to maintain it in the second half and I really went for it down the home straight. I could hear my name being screamed which is really special – it was really awesome.

“It is incredible. It has been a quick turnaround but a great learning curve. I have learnt a lot about myself and how my recovery works and the team that support me. To get two medals [she has the 4x100m relay come] would be absolutely amazing and I think we have a real shot.”

Compatriot Georgina Adam (Jonas Dodoo; Loughborough Students) crossed the line in fifth position, her time stopping at 23.75s (-1.7)

Producing the best run of her burgeoning career to date, Boffey sealed the women’s 800m title, delivering a dominant display to earn her moment on the podium. Moving away from the field in the last 150m, she looked supreme, claiming the victory in 2:02.92, a European U20 lead and personal best time.

Boffey said post-race: “I am buzzing. It was such a good race and I am so happy with myself that I went for it in the last 250m because it paid off. I knew someone was going to go for it and she [Switzerland’s Delia Sclabas] did but I knew if I ran my own race I could challenge with my kick.”

On how she approached the final part of her race, she added: “I saw towards 300m to go that she had quite a lead and I had a lot to make up but I got close to her and really went for it when it mattered – I executed my race plan to perfection, which I think is the first time I have ever done that before. I did not expect the time. I honestly didn’t think it would be really quick, the other athletes pushed the pace and I was happy to go with it to get the gold.”

After winning European U18 gold last summer, Keely Hodgkinson (Margaret Galvin; Leigh) was back on the rostrum to join Boffey, battling with the Swiss athlete Delia Sclabas all the way to the line and coming away with bronze in a personal best 2:03.40.

The delighted Leigh athlete commented: “I am really, really happy. My race went to plan, I would have liked silver because I was so close to it but I am happy with the medal. I am one of the youngest here.

“I knew it would be quick and I managed to PB, which I have been aiming for all season. With 300m to go I decided to reel the Swiss girl in and I just wished I had got her on the last bit but oh well.”

Making it a trio of British athletes in the final shake-up in the women’s 800m, young Scot Sarah Calvert (Sandra Hardacre; Livingston) posted a personal best of 2:05.68 in seventh position.

Zeller was the third gold medallist of the evening, blasting his way to the men’s 110m hurdles title in outstanding style. He showed his class over the hurdles, moving away convincingly in the second part of the race, winning in 13.39 (-1.7).

After his landmark victory, he said afterwards: “I feel great. I came here for that gold medal and it feels so amazing to have gone and done what I have been thinking about for however many months. It feels amazing.

“Yesterday my race was technically better but it doesn’t matter because everything I put out on the track there did the job. At a championships like this it isn’t always a bit times but who crosses that line first. I did that today and I am going to be going home with a gold around my neck.”

A further four medals were added to the British tally, led by a silver medal in the women’s 400m as Amber Anning (Lloyd Cowan; Brighton & Hove) secured the best run of her career so far, posting a personal best of 52.18s. Following her first senior call-up earlier this year at the European Indoor championships, she showed her quality at this championship, securing the podium place behind Polina Miller (ANA) who ran a PB of 51.72.

After catching up with her post-race, Anning added: “It hasn’t sunk in. I am shocked. I was so nervous before. Looking at the rounds and how people ran, I thought there would be some tired legs so it could have been anyone’s.

“I have worked so hard this season and I am so happy that I have been able to represent my nation and come away with a silver medal. I didn’t think I had it [the PB] in my legs. I am ecstatic.”

Fellow Brit Louise Evans (Linford Christie; Blackheath & Bromley) was seventh in the same race in a time of 54.06s.

One of the youngest members of the team put her name on the list of medallists in impressing form, Lucy-Jane Matthews (Andrew Fisher; Southampton) winning 100m hurdles bronze in a British U18 record of 13.38s (+0.1). She looked shocked as she crossed the line, however, after storming her race, looking very strong over the last few flights of hurdles, she earned her place on the podium with Sweden’s Tilde Johansson sealing the title.

She said: “Words cannot describe how I feel right now. I said to one of the support staff ‘I’m not going to need the presentation kit, it’s fine’ – I can’t believe it, this is amazing.

“I came in ranked fourth, so a medal contender, but I am 16 and really just grateful for the opportunity and here to build experience. To get that medal means I am doing things right and going in the right direction. It means an awful lot. The record is lovely little bonus, it is a big PB, two tenths, which is also what I am focusing on.”

The medals kept on coming in the middle-distance events as Joshua Lay (Anthony Love; Rugby & Northampton) produced a phenomenal race to grab bronze in the men’s 1500m. It was a closely fought contest, with Portugal’s Nuno Pereira taking it in 3:56.85, with the Briton following swiftly in 3:56.20.

Charlotte Williams (Michael Hitchon; Blackburn) finished fourth in the women’s hammer throw after a solid first round effort of 61.24m. She sat in the medal positions until the end of the fourth round when the Hungarian Zsannett Nemeth exceeded the Briton’s best throw. Charlotte Payne (Paul Dickenson; Newbury) ended the competition in seventh after a best effort 59.61m which came in round two.

In a fast and furious men’s 400m contest, Britain’s Ethan Brown (Lloyd Cowan; Blackheath & Bromley) sat outside the medal places despite a time of 46.45 which is just 0.01s outside his personal best which he set at the trials in Bedford. The Italian Edoardo Scotti won in 45.85, while several athletes set PBs and national records.

In the men’s 200m final, Praise Olatoke (Colin Sinclair; Kilbarchan) was fifth in 21.21s (-1.2), while the Netherlands’ Adigida Onyemu won in 21.08s (-1.2). On his British debut, Max Heyden (Mick Woods; Aldershot, Farnham & District) came home fifth in the men’s 3000m final having been at the front for almost all of the race.

A kick from the leaders in the final 200m left the Brit chasing hard, but he couldn’t recover ant ground and came home in fifth position in 8:18.73, with compatriot Ben West (Kyle Bennett; MK Distance Project) 12TH, clocking 8:26.03.

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Holly Page (Jason Marchant; Dartford) was in the mix throughout the race, but slipped away on the last lap, finishing ninth in 10:29.98.

There was double joy in the 400m hurdles as Seamus Derbyshire (Nick Dakin; City of Stoke) and Marcey Winter (Neil Dodson; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) made safe progression into the men’s and women’s finals respectively.

Derbyshire made great headway down the back straight and continued pushing into the last 100m crossing the line as the second fastest qualifier overall in 51.30s.

Winter produced a strong last 200m, taking big chunks out of her nearest rivals and closing further on France’s Shana Grebo on the home straight, coming home in second place in 58.67s, only 0.01s behind her.

Unfortunately, Alastair Chalmers (James Hillier; Guernsey) was disqualified  after stepping outside his lane.

Decathletes Joel McFarlane (John McFarlane; Central) and Jack Turner (Kevin Skinner; Exeter) rounded off their individual campaigns in 14th & 18th position respectively, with 7203 and 7040 points to their names. McFarlane ended the championships with personal bests in the 110m hurdles, 400m and 110m hurdles, while Turner came away with a 400m PB.