18th July 2019


Holly Mills (coach: Laura Turner-Alleyne; club: Andover) ends day one of the women’s heptathlon just two points behind leader Maria Vicente (ESP), and Jeremiah Azu (Helen James; Cardiff) clocked a 100m track record as a further 12 Brits progressed at the European Under-20 Championships in Boras, Sweden.

Having led at the end of the morning session following a personal best mark in the high jump of 1.78m and a windy 13.45s (-2.5) PB in the 100m hurdles, Mills managed a best of 10.86m in the shot, before moving to within a fraction of Vicente following a 24.15s (no wind) 200m run to finish the day on 3563 points.

Amaya Scott-Rule (Matthew Watson; Southampton) maintained her good form as she ended the first day of competition in fifth place with three personal bests and 3443 points, with Olivia Dobson (Exeter) 18th after the first four events, accumulating 3065 points.

Scott-Rule added a second-place finish in the shot put with a personal best 13.77m effort, moving her up to second overall and then added a 200m PB of 25.58s (no wind) to cap a great start to her heptathlon campaign, with Dobson adding an 11.41m shot, and 26.28s (no wind) 200m to her score.

At the end of the first day of competition, Mills said: “I’m happy with the first two events but I’m definitely not happy with my shot, that went wrong but we’ve moved past that. The 200m I wanted more from but I put together a solid set of performances.

“I’m satisfied with today but I want to push more tomorrow. I want to get as close to my long jump PB tomorrow to put some points down ahead of the javelin, my weakest event, but if I can get it down to the 800m, it all becomes about who has the legs left.”

European U20 leader Jeremiah Azu (Helen James; Cardiff) and Chad Miller (Ryan Freckleton; Hercules Wimbledon) both secured their passage into the final of the men’s 100m with victory in their semi-finals, with the former clocking a new track record in the process.

Azu stole the show as he powered down the home straight, easing up in the closing stages but still setting a track record of 10.37s (1.2) to take the title of fastest man in the heats and semis, with Miller providing another excellent performance of 10.47s (1.3) to qualify fastest in his heat, but fellow Brit Tobi Ogunkanmi (Peter Griffiths; Watford) missed out on a spot in, finishing sixth in 10.63s (1.2) in his semi-final.

In the women’s equivalent, a polished performance from Immanuela Aliu (John Blackie; Blackheath & Bromley) secured her a spot in the final, notching a time of 11.58s (0.5). Aliu got away well from lane five and made sure she kept her rivals outside of her at bay as she found another gear in the closing stages to take the win in the second-fastest time of the day.

Azu added after his run: “I set that track record and hopefully I can go even faster in the final. It was nice out there, the atmosphere is something I’m thriving off now and I’m a bit more of my character. I’m more focused on being me when I’m out there.

“I still hit that run hard to let people know that I’m there. I took the heats easy but I don’t want them thinking I’m not here and I’ve shown that I am.

“I was hoping all three of us would make it but that’s how championships go, I was hoping Tobi would make it but he’ll come back stronger, as all of us will regardless of how we do here.”

The women’s 800m trio of Sarah Calvert (Sandra Hardacre; Livingstone), Keely Hodgkinson (Margaret Galvin; Leigh) and Isabelle Boffey (Luke Gunn; Enfield & Haringey) all made smooth progress into the semi-finals as winners of their respective heats.

Calvert kicked things off with a 2:06.72 to win her heat, taking the race out from the front in the final 300m, before Hodgkinson booked her place with a measured run, kicking with 150m left for the fastest time of the heats of 2:06.16

Boffey made it a clean sweep for the British team as she cut the tape in 2:09.04 with another measured race, making her move on the back straight and powering away to victory.

After her race, Hodgkinson assessed: “It was humid out there but I felt really comfortable. I was going to take it out but the Italian girl [Sophia Favalli] decided to go to the front so I let her do what she wanted and stayed within touching distance. Down the back straight I wanted to make sure no one came past me, then with 150m to go I made my move. The semis will be really tough and who’s in mine depends on how I run it and then it’s all about getting to the final.”

There was more endurance success as Josh Lay (Anthony Love; Rugby & Northampton) made safe progression into the final of the men’s 1500m after coming home second in 3:50.20 in the first heat. Lay front-ran the vast majority of the race but was pipped to the line by Ruben Verheyden (BEL), finishing in second place but progressing into the final.

Erin Wallace (Andy Young; Giffnock North) followed suit in the women’s equivalent, leading for much of the race but held on to secure her spot in the final with a fourth-place finish in a very tactical race, stopping the clock in 4:27.64.

Teammates Thomas Keen (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge) and Molly Canham (Kevin Canham; Exeter) were unfortunate not to join them as Keen took a fall with 300m to go, crossing the line as a result in 3:57.74, tenth in his heat, with Canham missing out on a fastest loser place by one spot, finishing in 4:26.65.

Max Heyden (Mick Woods; Aldershot, Farnham & District) and Ben West (Kyle Bennett; MK Distance Project) both booked their places in the final of the men’s 3000m, but Joe Wigfield (Craig Winrow; Wirral) missed out on a fastest loser spot.

Heyden came home in third place after clocking 8:36.12 in the first heat, ensuring himself auto-qualification, but West added a q next to his name as he clocked 8:26.14, coming home seventh but making it to the final as one of the fastest losers. Wigfield’s seventh place 8:40.39 in the first heat was not enough to see him through.

In the field, long jumpers Stephen MacKenzie (Linda Nicholson; Pitreavie) and Alessandro Schenini (David Watson; Giffnock North) both made the final after finishing in eighth and tenth place respectively.

Neither achieved the auto-qualifying mark of 7.55m, but MacKenzie’s 7.30m (0.5) and Schenini’s 7.21m (0.1) saw both Scots into the final and both have set their sights on hitting 7.61m, the Scottish U20 record.

MacKenzie assessed: “I’m a bit disappointed I wasn’t quite there technically but I can go back and focus on tomorrow now and hopefully get bigger distances.

“It would have been nice mentally to pop out a 7.55m jump and get the auto-qualifier but we’re in the final and we can look forward to that and go for the Scottish record.”