3rd August 2022


The Great Britain and Northern Ireland team broke their own British record in the final of the mixed 4x400m at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Colombia on day two. Their time of 3.21.03 was fast enough to secure fourth place, and notably, is the second-best time ever by a European junior team.

USA, India and Jamaica fought for the medals at the head of the pack, while GB&NI gave brave chase, each athlete giving a commendable performance. The team was led by Brodie Young (James McMenemy, Airdrie Harriers) who handed to Poppy Malik (Grant Barker, Notts) on the second leg who kept the team in contention in fourth place.

The GB & NI team captain Samuel Reardon (Nigel Stickings, Blackheath & Bromley) took the baton third and produced a blistering leg to reel in Jamaica and narrow the gap before handing over to Etty Sisson (Grant Barker, Charnwood). The Jamaican’s streaked away on the final leg to secure bronze and the British quartet came home in fourth in record breaking time.

“I’m just so proud of this team”, said Reardon. “We qualified fifth fastest, and I know fourth place sucks, it’s the one just outside medals, but we took a place, and we always knew it was going to be hard to catch the top three. I am so proud; we gave it our all and I couldn’t ask for anymore.”

Abigail Ives (Luke Gunn, Basildon) ran a tactically impressive semi-final race to qualify for tomorrow’s final in the women’s 800m. She kicked for home in the final sprint and was delighted to cross the line first and secure her qualification in 2.01.92 seconds, just 4/100ths off her personal best time.

“It was quick, we saw the heat in front of us and we all knew we had to go off quickly to even try to get the fastest losers spots or top two but going down the home straight I just gave it everything and it paid off.”

In the men’s 100m semi-finals, Michael Onilogbo (Carl Graham, Newham & Essex Beagles) again ran consistently, posting a time of 10.39 (0.6m/s) seconds to finish fourth. There was to be no place in the final within this extremely competitive group of teenage sprinters. The final was won in a new U20 World Record of 9.91 by Letsile Tebogo of Botswana.

There was a Briton at the top of the list of qualifiers for tomorrow’s semi-finals in the women’s 400 metres. Yemi Mary John (Alan James, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) ran a new personal best of 52.42, winning her heat by a margin of almost a second.

After the race she said, “I really just planned to come out hard and judge where I was at 200m so I could run the race from there and make sure I could qualify to semis and hold it strong. I’m definitely happy with that performance, a pb as well. So yes, looking forward to what’s next.”

There are two GB & NI women in the top 10 of qualifiers for the 100m semi-final. The European Under 18 Champion Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (Harrow) ran a personal best time of 11.36 (0.0m/s) and was excited to share her opinion of the track.

“Yes it was really good, I feel like I executed well. The track was really fast and that helps as well. I had the adrenaline, I really wanted to get there (to the final) so I basically had to run just as fast as I could, and I made it. I feel like going to European Under 18s really helped me coming here and being in a similar environment.”

GB & NI team-mate Joy Eze (Michael Donnelly, Gateshead) was also extremely happy with her season’s best time of 11.47 (-1.0m/s) and an automatic qualifying spot for the final.

“I feel like I got a really good start. I could see everyone with me which was great. My transition was good as well and I kind of eased up at the end because I could see around me I was second.

“I felt that the race went really well and to run almost a PB – a season’s best is really good, and I know there’s definitely more to come in the semis and the finals.”

There was also semi-final qualification for European U18 Champion Ophelia Pye (Dave Hemery, Marlborough Athletics) in the 400m hurdles. The Marlborough athlete clocked 59.04 for third in her heat to earn automatic qualification to the next round. Pye admitted that her experience from the Jerusalem event last month has been invaluable for the World Juniors.

“I think more than anything else it just helps with confidence, trusting yourself and trusting your routines and what works for you more than anything else. It’s just nice to have that little background experience so this isn’t quite so new and daunting I’d say, but yeah, I loved Euros.”

Cleo Agyepong (John Hillier, Blackheath & Bromley) finished in 11th place in the final of the women’s shot put. The 17-year-old threw 14.76m and gathered valuable experience for the next two seasons in which she will remain in this age-group.

Hammer thrower Owen Merritt (Matt Spicer, Yate) achieved the 70m barrier for the first time with a personal best throw of 70.50m. An improvement by an impressive 57cm, his 15th place means he missed out on a place in the final, in extremely tough competition.

There was some unfinished business for Decathlete Sammy Ball (Michael Dyer, Reading AC). After completing eight events, Ball had to withdraw after a hip problem became apparent in the 110m hurdles.

He’d clocked 15.21 in the hurdles to start the day which saw him move from fourth overall to eighth. 39.97m followed in the discus, before a clearance of 3.70m in the pole vault. As he sat in 11th overall, Ball made the decision to withdraw from the competition prior to the javelin getting underway.

In men’s pole vault Lazarus Benjamin (Matt Cullen, Sale Harriers Manchester) admitted to disappointment in his decision making in the qualifying round. Benjamin’s vault of 4.90m means he misses out in Thursday’s final.

“I felt good this morning the track felt good, everything was alright. I think it was just I didn’t move up the pole quick enough and I should have made that self-decision to move up the pole. Its alright, it’s what happens. Mistakes happen.”