2nd August 2022


There were personal bests, season’s best performances, and progression to finals for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Juniors on the evening of Day one at the World Athletics U20 Championships.

Eighteen-year-old Zara Obamakinwa (coach: Mark Chapman, club: Blackheath & Bromley) launched a 30cm PB in the discus on her first attempt in the qualifying round. Her throw of 51.99m gave her the second-best performance of the day and her progression to the final on Wednesday was assured in fine style.

“I haven’t had a PB in a while so that’s really, really exciting and it’s given me the confidence to go into the final believing I can throw big.”

Decathlete Sammy Ball (Michael Dyer, Reading AC) enjoyed his lunch break, secure in the knowledge that his 100m, long jump and shot put was enough to secure fifth place overall going into the evening session. The 17-year-old continued to show poise beyond his years with a 1.96m high jump, just 1 cm below his lifetime best. He continued with 14.55m in shot put before a huge PB in the 400m with the time of 48.43 achieved from lane 8. These latter events improved his position and he moved up to sit just outside the medals.

“Being in 4th right now, it’s hard to not think about being in the top three, but I know a few of the guys below me have got a very big javelin, so, it’s a weak event for me. To be honest as a first year I’d be very happy with a top six as a finish.”

Ball finishes day one with a total of 4046 points and currently lies in fourth position overall. Tomorrow he will tackle the five remaining disciplines of 110mH, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 metres.

There were two athletes to cheer in the women’s pole vault as the GB&NI team captain Sophie Ashurst (Andy Ashurst, Sale Harriers) opened her World Championship campaign alongside Gemma Tutton (Richard Pilling, Lewes).

Both athletes achieved the height of 4.05m, which was enough to secure qualification to the final. For Tutton the height was a season’s best and marked an emotional and physical breakthrough.

“I am over the moon, this year has been really difficult. I’ve been off for long periods of time with injury. And then mentally a lot has happened. I got anxiety this year and starting college has just been really difficult. So just to get to Worlds and get through with a clean scorecard really means the world to me.

There was excitement as always when relays take to the track and the mixed GB&NI 4x400m team was determined to qualify for tomorrow night’s final.

The quartet was led off by Brodie Young (James McMenemy, Airdrie Harriers) with Etty Sisson (Grant Barker, Charnwood) taking over on second leg. The team had an established third place for most of the race with Cameron McGregor (James Wright, Rugby & Northampton) and then Poppy Malik (Grant Barker, Notts) bringing the team home, third in their heat. They qualified for the final in 3.22.77 which is a PB and the fifth fastest time overall.

The 5000 metres was always going to be extremely challenging in afternoon temperatures exceeding 28 degrees, and the oxygen sapping elevation of over 1000 metres. The constantly improving Johnny Livingstone (self-coached, Exeter) was the first Briton to contest a final, but he admitted the conditions and challenges got the better of him. After his 19th place finish in a time of 15:01.59, he said,

“I am happy that I fully emptied the tank, I’m proud of that, but it’s not a good performance if I’m honest. It’s so much slower than I have run before, so I’ve got a lot to think about before going on.”

Of the World Championship experience he said he takes, “So, so much. I’ve never been part of something so big. The whole time zone adjustment, altitude, heat, weird sleep, weird eating. I’ve learned a lot of how to deal with that – I clearly haven’t dealt with it too well this time, it’s the first time so I will learn. Next time I should be much, much better.”

Read how to follow the Championships HERE.

Timetable and results for the Championships can be found HERE.

*Photo credit: Oscar Munoz Badilla for World Athletics