17th July 2022
OKOH AND IVES AMONG THOSE TO IMPRESS ON DAY TWO OF THE ENGLAND U20/U23 CHAMPS
400m hurdler Onyekachukwu Okoh (coach: Jade Harding, club: Chelmsford), 800m specialists Sam Reardon (Nigel Stickings, Blackheath & Bromley), Abigail Ives (Luke Gunn) and Iris Downes (Colin Lancaster, Shrewsbury), and Discus thrower Zara Obamakinwa were among those to provisionally book spots on the plane to next month’s World U20 Championships in Colombia on an action-packed day two at the England Athletics U23 & U20 Championships.
Picking up where day one left off, the second and final day of action at Bedford’s International Athletics Stadium was packed with stand-out performances and qualifiers for next month’s World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, with the team set to be officially announced this coming Tuesday (19 July).
Having produced the run of his life yesterday to lower his personal best by three-tenths and dip inside the qualifying mark for Cali, Onyekachukwu Okoh returned with his mind focused on getting the job done. Running from lane five in the men’s U20 hurdles final, Okoh picked up where he left off to seal his spot on the team for Cali, breaking clear over the final 200m to hold off silver-medal winner Jake Minshull (Coventry) and come home in 51.57. Behind the pair, George Seery (Stewart Marshall, Thanet AC) won bronze in 53.45.
Talking post-medal ceremony, Okoh reflected on his weekend: “I was out on my own yesterday and it was a really good race, especially getting the qualifier, though I was a bit nervous when I saw 51.30-dead about it being rounded up! I enjoyed yesterday and I enjoyed today – I’m enjoying racing full-stop and feel in really good shape. There are still mistakes I can iron out, but my coach and I will look at that now.”
“I’ve not been more than an hour outside of England’s time zone, but to head out to my first world championships age 17 would be an amazing feeling.”
The women’s U23 final in the same event saw Orla Brennan (Neil Dodson, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) take the tape, dealing with a slightly rocky last hurdle clearance to clock a season’s best of 60.23, upgrading the U20 bronze won last year to U23 gold. Fastest through qualifying yesterday, Amy Pye (Colin Bovell, Cannock & Stafford) won silver in 60.65, and, having finished fourth behind Australian guest runner Marli Wilkinson, Kati Hulme (Arnie Wray, Shrewsbury) won English bronze in 1:05.39.
Finishing off the one-lap hurdle action, Peter John Curtis (Dale Garland, Guernsey) backed up a season’s best in yesterday’s qualifying with the quickest time of his life yet to snatch gold in 51.35, silver medallist Samuel Clarke (Robert Smith, Cambridge & Coleridge) just two hundredths back in 51.37 for silver, also a PB. Less than a tenth off a best of his own, Benjamin Schofield (Janice Kaufman, Gateshead) posted 52.96 for bronze.
Charged with bringing the curtain down on the weekend, the four age-group 200m finals delivered fireworks, beginning with the U20 Women. Having come through the day’s qualifying quickest with 24.24 (+0.2) and 24.42 (-1.1) respectively, Success Eduan (Anita Richardson, Sale Harriers) and Sophie Walton (Trevor Williams, Horwich) returned as favourites to command the top two spots.
Both carrying the world qualifier already under their belts, it was Eduan who moved away in the final 50m to clock 23.62 (+0.4) and the victory, with Walton second courtesy of 23.86. Millie King stretched for bronze, her time 24.32.
On getting the job done, Eduan commented: “It was really tough racing on two consecutives day when it’s really hot, but it’s almost like a copy and paste of what to expect in Colombia and I managed it well, so I’m super happy. It’s important to be confident as it can get you a long way – that, plus trusting the process.
Picking up where he left off yesterday with 100m U20 gold, Jeriel Quanioo returned to complete the sprint double with an absolutely emphatic 20.85 (-0.6) victory, leaving the field in his wake as he tore away arms aloft. Jason Kalala (Victoria Park) and William Dean (Northampton AC) produced 21.63 and 21.68 respectively to complete the podium, Dean’s time a personal best.
Coming through in the last 25m, Georgina Adam (Benke Blomkvist, Loughborough) produced the run of her life to clock 23.40 (+0.3) and take gold in the women’s U23 200m final, an improvement on her previous best of 23.45, while there was also a quickest ever for silver medallist Alannah Fashanu (Ryan Freckleton, Shaftesbury Barnet) too as she posted 23.72. Rachel Bennett’s (Anita Richardson, Gateshead Harriers) 24.15 saw her take bronze.
The final of the four 200m finals, the men’s U23 saw Valerio Duah (Santino Dummett, Birchfield Harriers) do enough to edge out James Hanson (Jake Awe, Woking AC), Duah’s time of 21.01 (+1.6) pipping Hanson’s 21.07 as the pair went at it down the straight. Louie Hinchliffe (Rudolph Paul Hohn, Sheffield & Dearne) came in behind the pair, his 21.26 posting an equal personal best.
Very much the athlete to beat in the women’s U20 100m hurdles final, Marli Jessop (Scott Grace, Shaftesbury Barnet) blasted the field away to dip over in 13.58 (+1.1). Jessop holds the qualifying mark of 13.50 having clocked 13.38, so will now turn her attention to selection for August’s world juniors. Coming in for silver and bronze were Lily Parris (Julie Benterman, Chelmsford) and Eniola Ajagbe (Owen McNally, Hallamshire Harriers), the former running a season’s best of 13.87, the latter 13.99 for an outright personal best by nearly two-tenths.
Second quickest in qualification, Daniel Goriola (John Gates, Bexley AC) went one better to edge out Matthew Griffin (Paul Gripton, Birchfield Harriers) in the men’s U20 110m hurdles final, their times 13.76 to 13.79 (+0.6). Mopping up bronze in a personal best of 13.85 was Abdulsamad Sanusi (Nat Senior), the Newham and Essex Beagle athlete lopping two tenths off his previous best.
Sprint hurdles finals came thick and fast towards the end of the programme, with only the men’s U23 final contested as a straight final earlier in the day, an event in which Australia’s Sam Hurwood and Qatar’s Saeed Alabsi went 1-2. Deciding the medals behind the pair, Joseph Adbodza (Southend on Sea) set a personal best to take the English title in 14.07, with Tom Wilcock (Jerzy Maciukiewicz, Northampton) and Callum Holder (Mark Briggs, Sutton & District) separated by three-hundreths, 14.33 to 14.36, for silver and bronze.
In the women’s U23 equivalent, it was Jenna Blundell (Benke Blomkvist, Bristol & West AC) from Jodie Smith (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow), the mark’s 13.55 to 13.70 (+1/2) to decide gold and silver, with Mallory Cluley (Lorna Boothe, Blackheath & Bromley) back in bronze with 13.76.
British U20 number one courtesy of the personal best of 2:01.88 achieved earlier this summer, Abigail Ives pencilled her spot on the plane to Cali with a well-judged gold medal run in the women’s 800m final, clocking 2:04 exactly. Set to join her on the team having also gone inside the 2:05 qualifying mark is Iris Downes (Colin Lancaster, Shrewsbury), with a silver medal finish in 2:05.55 set to seal the deal. Just five-hundredths shy of her PB, Ella Greenway (Joanna Louise Evans, Cleethorpes) followed the pair in for bronze.
In the men’s U20 final, Sam Reardon (Nigel Stickings, Blackheath & Bromley) underlined his potential for a spot on the World U20 team by taking the win ahead of David Race (John Stephenson, Gateshead Harriers), the times 1:50.20 to 1:50.56. Archie Parkinson (Bill Boyd, Corby) left it all on the track to come in for bronze with 1:51.49, bettering his personal best by three-tenths.
In the U23 events, Jodie Martin (Bob Schofield Kingston upon Hull) was a close second in the overall race to Australian guest Matilda Ryan, her PB time of 2:06.36 being enough to take the English age-group title, however. Steph Driscoll (Stephen Carroll, Liverpool Harriers) was third overall for silver in 2:06.36, a PB, and Molly Jane Hudson (Helen Clitheroe, Derby) crossed over in 2:11.55 for bronze. The men’s race followed something of a similar outcome, Australian Jake Lunn taking the win, with half a second splitting English gold and silver medallists Henry Fisher (Dean Miller, Blackheath & Bromley) and Charlie Crick (Mark Hookway, Tonbridge), 1:50.08 to 1:50.47, while Sam Wiggins (Nadeem Shaikh, Shaftesbury Barnet) took bronze in 1:51.56.
The women’s U20 400m final saw pre-race favourite Yemi Mary John, the fastest qualifier through yesterday’s heats and an athlete with the qualifying mark, turn on the gas down the home straight to romp home in 53.19. Behind John, Etty Sisson (Grant Barker, Charnwood) came in for an equal-personal best for silver, the time 54.06, and Poppy Malik (Grant Barker, Notts) won bronze in 54.20.
On a successful navigation of the weekend and the continuation of a fine year, she said:
“I think I ran pretty well – I went out harder with my final and wanted to push myself as much as possible over the last 100m. If I get selected, obviously I need to step it up for Colombia. After Estonia [European Junior] outdoors last year, I came back really strong, especially in the indoor season. There was a bit of a hiccup at the start of my outdoor season, but I’m definitely coming back stronger now – it’s all about winning for me.”
In the women’s U23 decider, Bolton AC’s Hannah Kelly (Les Hall) held strong down the straight to take the title in 54.09, Natasha Grace Harrison (Alex O’Gorman, Stockport) chasing her down all the way for silver in 54.45, and Ella Turner (Marcia Marriott, Oxford City) in bronze with 55.22.
Brodie Young (James McMenemy, Airdrie Harriers) gave it absolutely everything in the men’s U20 400m in an attempt to go inside the 46.50 qualifier, his reward a new personal best of 46.69 and age-group gold as he streaked away from the rest of the field. Cameron McGregor (James Wright, Rugby & Northampton) crossed over in 47.38 for silver, and Reuben Henry-Daire (Paul Herrington, Reading AC) produced his quickest time this year, 48.51, for bronze.
The last of the four 400m age-group finals, Connor Neal (Thanet AC) produced a notable personal best performance of 47.27 from lane 4 to give him victory by two-tenths over Seamus Derbyshire (Nick Dakin, City of Stoke), with Emmanuel Agyare (Enfield & Haringey) stealing in for bronze with 47.61, a PB by a hundredth.
Pencilling her name on the team-sheet for Cali, Zara Obamakinwa (Mark Chapman, Blackheath & Bromley) produced a fifth-round best of 48.23m on the day to win U20 discus gold and back up securing the qualifying mark last month at the same venue. Ellie Janette Lovett (City of Portsmouth) threw 40.97m for silver, and Olivia Austin (David Callway, Newham & Essex Beagles) produced a best of 38.94m on the day to collect bronze.
Rhys Allen’s (David Callaway, Newham & Essex Beagles) best of 54.20m in round five saw him sweep the men’s U20 discus title, with his personal best set earlier this season seeing him just 11cm short of the qualifying mark for Cali. Behind Allen, James Wordsworth (Neil Ellerby, North Shields) thew out to 51.55m for silver, and Edward Michael Fileman (Gary Herrington, Tavistock AC) hurdled 49.90m for bronze.
The women’s U20 1500m final was decided in the last 100m, with Jessica Spilsbury (Trafford AC) charging through to take victory in 4:30.88. Namesake Jess Bailey (Leven Valley) also found a final burst of energy on the straight, haring through for silver in 4:31.42, with previous race leader Pippa Roessler (Mick Woods, Aldershot, Farnham & District) doing enough to hold on to bronze with 4:32.13.
The women’s U23 hammer saw UK senior champion Charlotte Payne (Paul Dickenson, Reading AC) add the English U23 title to her growing list of accolades courtesy of a round-five best of 62.42m. Liverpool Harrier Zoe Price (Ronnie Bomba) clinched silver with 58.88m, and Hannah Blood (Sale Harriers) took the third step on the podium with 56.92m.
In the men’s equivalent, Shaun Richard Kerry (Dave Smith, Kingston upon Hull) came out on top, his best mark of 59.50m in round six seeing him solidify his grasp on the title after a hard-fought competition against eventual silver medallist Oliver Graham (Robert Earle, Shaftesbury Barnet) who peaked with 58.76m.
At the same end of the Stadium, Gabrielle Garber (Jessica Taylor-Jemmett, Leeds City AC) led the way brilliantly in the U20 high jump, going clear at 1.78m to add 5cm to her personal best and take gold. Silver medallist Lili Church (Paul Harrison, Camarthan & District) was also in personal best form for silver, equalling her previous top mark of 1.75m at the third time of asking, while Halle Ferguson’s (Andrew Wood, Trafford AC) 1.72m best of the day was enough for bronze.
Luke Ball (Jeremy Dale, Yate & District AC) followed Garber’s lead later in the day, winning men’s high jump U20 gold by matching his personal best of 2.10m to take the win, with three unsuccessful tilts at the qualifier of 2.16m following. Sean Oceng-Engena (Marius Guei, Highgate) also took note, the silver medallist adding 3cm to his PB to clear 2.07m with his last attempt, while Hari Brogan (Sarah Hewitt, Brighton & Hove) won bronze with 2.01m
One jump at 4.80m was enough to claim the men’s U23 title for Jacob Elliot Clark (Alan Richardson, Notts AC) in the pole vault, his choice to come in later than his competitors paying dividends, with three failures at 4.90m following. Glen Quayle’s (Henrietta Paxton, Shaftesbury Barnet) battle with 4.60m saw him come off best on attempt three for silver, with Mark Mellor’s (Edward Thompson, Cardiff) 4.35m good for bronze.
Held later in the day as conditions became increasingly muggy, the women’s U23 vault saw gold shared between Felicia Miloro (Henrietta Paxton, Loughborough Students and Nemiah Munir (Ian Parkinson, Wycombe Phoenix Harriers), both of whom cleared 4.00m with mirrored scorecards, the magic 4m mark serving as a PB for Munir. Jade Spencer-Smith (Conrad Kalinowski, Harrow) took bronze with 3.90m
Early men’s U23 triple jump competition saw Berachiah Ajala (John Scott, Edinburgh AC) face down a -1.2 headwind to produce the best jump of the competition, 15.84m, to add U23 gold to the U20 title won last year in the very same venue. His only legal jump from six attempts, Wesley Matsuka-Williams’ (Denis Costello, City of Norwich) 15.10m (+0.7) in round two was good for silver, and guest athlete Uri Arnon won bronze with 15.04m (-0.8).
The women’s U23 age competition of the same event saw Lily Hulland (Femi Akinsaya, Thames Valley Harriers) a clear victor with 12.70 (-0.8) ahead of Georgie Forde-Wells (Lukasz Zawila, Loughborough) and Georgina Scoot (Richard Derrick, Torbay AAC, their marks 12.39 (-0.8) and 12.21 (-1.2) respectively.
Women’s U20 horizontal jump action continued as Eloise Hind (Marcia Marriott, Oxford City) jumped out to a new personal best in the long jump, the mark 6.12m (+1.4) and affording her the win by 5cm ahead of Molly Ruth Palmer (Lukasz Zawila, Charnwood) in silver, her best jump facing an unfortunate headwind of -1.7. Ella Rush (David Feeney, Amber Valley & Erewash) completed the rostrum courtesy of 5.99m (+1.1)
Entertaining those watching down the home-straight, the men’s U20 long jump saw Brad Davies-Pughe (Jake Awe, Shaftesbury Barnet) and Archie Yeo (Stephen Wymark, Kingston upon Hull) tussle for the title before the former came out on top with a brilliant round six 7.35m (-1.0). Yeo’s season’s best of 7.28m (+0.9) saw him settle for silver, while Toby Hiller (Daniel Hooker) came through for bronze, his round six 7.04m a welcome distance for the Wimborne AC athlete after a disrupted series.
Serena Vincent (Bronwin Carter, City of Portsmouth) came out top in the women’s U23 Shot, a hugely consistent series of legal throws seeing her best of 15.94m do more than enough to take gold. Also managing six clear efforts, Jess Hopkins’ (Chelmsford AC) 13.72m in round three was good for silver, while adding to the U23 long jump gold won yesterday, multi-eventer Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Andover) won bronze with 13.05m.
Lewis Byng (Stratford upon Avon) produced two consecutive throws within 1cm of each other – 17.55m and 17.56m – to win U23 men’s Shot gold with comfort, with George Hyde’s (Stuart Carlaw, Harrow) 16.22m the next closer for silver, and Kane Aubrey’s (Stuart Carlaw, Harrow) 15.98m good for bronze.
Joss Foot (Michael McNeill, Orion Harriers led the way in the men’s U23 javelin, his season’s best throw of 65.69m in the final round seeing him leapfrog Peter Brinton-Quinn (Steven Savill, Havering) into gold, a position he previously occupied with 63.90m before being bumped to silver. Behind the pair was Oliver Wright (Paul Wilson, City of York), his 62.40m adding over 70cm to his lifetime best for bronze.
Lauren Farley’s (Mark Chapman, Blackheath & Bromley) opening round 48.52m in the U23 javelin was enough to seal the victory there and then, with silver and bronze medallists Olivia Jones (Birchfield Harriers) and Jessie Brown’s (Scott Knighton, Amber Valley & Erewash) efforts of 42.55m and 42.22m leaving them completing the make-up of the podium.
Opening up the action in a race against rising temperatures were the 5000m Race Walks, with the U20 and U23 age groups combined as one. Christopher Snook (Verity Snook, Aldershot, Farnham & District) took the spoils in the U23s, taking half a second off his personal best of 21:19.80, with silver medallist George Wilkinson (Enfield & Haringey) also producing his quickest time to date with 22:47.94, with silver medallist George Wilkinson (Enfield & Haringey) also producing his quickest time to date with 22:47.94. Christian Hopper (Noel Carmody, Cambridge Harriers) was crowned U20 champion after produced his quickest this season, 24:50.59.
In the women’s event, Abigail Jennings (Verity Snook, Aldershot, Farnham & District) was crowned English U23 champion with 25:40.04, with the placings in the race overall seeing her sandwiched between Australian guests Allanah Pitcher and Kate Siviour. In the U20 category, Abby Hughes (Steve Shaw, Taunton) won gold with 26:49.76, with Mia Dunwell (Steve Partington, Isle of Man) fourty seconds back for silver in 27:27.19, and Lois Carty (Verity Snook, Aldershot, Farnham & District) crossing the line in 29:05.23 for bronze.
The men’s and women’s U23 5000m followed straight after the walks, with Australian Jessica Noble winning in dominant fashion from a field in three in the women’s race, Jade Lauren Morgan (Anthony Clarke, Liverpool Harriers), finishing second overall to take the English title, Rosie Hamilton-James (Dean Miller, Westbury) behind her in third for silver.
In the men’s race, Noble’s compatriot Isaac Heyne took the overall win ahead of English medallists George Beardmore (David Walker, Worcester AC), Alex Durant (City of Sheffield) and Elliot Smith-Rasmussen (Newark AC). Beardmore’s time of 14:40.27 clinched him gold, with Durant coming home in 14:46.03 and Smith-Rasmussen’s 14:46.99 a personal best for bronze.
Finishing off the morning’s endurance action, the women’s U20 & U23 steeplechase saw the junior age category won comprehensively by Kiya Dee (Cheltenham & County Harriers as she shaved two seconds off her best with 10:45.29, her winning margin a significant sixteen seconds. There was also a notable six-and-a-half second personal best for silver medallist Jessica Hatch (Shireen Higgins, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) with 11:01.86, with Morgan Squibb (Andy Frankish, Blackheath & Bromley) completing the U20 podium courtesy of 11:12.39. Race-winner Elena Carey (Mick Woods, Bracknell AC) was the top U23, her time of 10:43.10 seeing her take the win.
The full results from the Championships can be viewed online here.
The Selection Policy for the 2022 World Athletics U20 Championships is available to read here.