21st July 2017


Naomi Ogbeta (Tom Cullen) won Great Britain’s first medal at the 2017 European Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy, with an outstanding bronze in the women’s triple jump. This was followed up moments later by Oliver Bromby (Sara MacDonald-Gray) winning a medal of the same colour in the men’s 100m.

Never before has Britain won a female triple jump medal at this championships, but Ogbeta lived up to her third place qualification, snatching bronze with a stunning sixth round personal best of 13.68m.

Sitting in third until round five it looked like a medal might have slipped through her grasp when Bulgarian Aleksandra Nacheva went out to 13.64m, which incidentally was Ogbeta’s PB. But the Manchester based athlete wasn’t done, hopping, stepping and jumping to a personal best with her last jump to secure a sensational bronze.

“Everything came together for that last jump! I was trying to stay relaxed and not let the distances of the other girls get to me and just perform as best as I could. With that last jump I just completely relaxed and it just happened.

“My mum was in the crowd and started doing some fist pumping and cheering before the last round and that spurred me on. I wanted to win a medal – I didn’t come all this way to come fourth! This is such a difference from World Youths where I didn’t even make the final; to come here and get a medal is just really good.”

That 13.68m effort further advances her second place position on the British junior all-time list.

Bromby continued Great Britain’s marvellous sprint tradition at the European Junior Championships as he won a brilliant bronze in the men’s 100m. After navigating a couple of tricky qualifying rounds, he ran a fine race come the final, crossing the line in 10.88, understandably slow given the 4.3m/s headwind the athletes were running into. Gold went to local favourite Filippo Tortu in 10.73.

“It been a tough couple of years, coming fourth at World Youths two years ago and then just missing the final at World Juniors last year, and it felt like a bit of a let-down for all the work I put it. So to finally get a medal here, it’s brilliant! Today was a good day.”

The women’s heptathlon was undoubtedly one of the events of the championships, underlined by the fact Niamh Emerson’s (David Feeney) eventual 6013 points total failed to win her a medal.

Emerson came in ranked fifth but stepped up when it counted, breaking five personal bests en-route to her PB score. With fourth the worst place to finish her consolation prizes made up for it; an English qualifying standard for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and moving ahead of Jessica Ennis-Hill and into third on the British junior all-time list.

“I’m really happy overall but I can believe I managed to score 6,000 points and come fourth! I’m really, really happy though as everything was solid, if not perfect and nothing went wrong.

“I wanted 5,900 [Commonwealth Games standard] coming in, and I knew I could get that, everything just had to be good. After my javelin PB I was like ‘oh my god’ I’m going to get 6,000 points and that is just crazy. Now I just need to keep progressing.”

Talking of stepping up when it counts Holly McArthur (Iain McEwan) could well claim the performance of the championships accolade as she broke all seven of her personal bests to amass an impressive 5,687 score, good for eleventh. Like Emerson, she also surpassed the Team Scotland standard for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“Seven PBs has to be the perfect competition! It definitely helps having such a high standard here, and with everyone else doing so well it really encourages you, and the crowd for the 800m really helped. I knew it would have to be the perfect score to get the Scotland standard and so I’m just really, really happy and didn’t expect it. I just want to keep improving now and hopefully I can develop my high jump and throws.”

There was a fourth place finish in the women’s 100m for youngster Olivia Okoli (Anthony Childs), who just missed out on the medal she had hoped for. Competing at her first international championships, she put in an extremely credible performance to cross the line in 11.86 into a 1.4m/s headwind, less than a tenth down on a medal.

There was disappointment for Jake Norris (Paul Dickenson), as having entered the championships ranked third he fell short of his 78.09m personal best, having to settle for seventh with a first round throw of 72.68m. There was no stopping the winner, Ukraine’s Hlib Piskunov, who broke the championship record with a 81.75m throw.

Alicia Barrett (Toni Minichiello) put in a real captain’s performance to advance to tomorrow’s 100mH final, winning both her heat and semi-final. Wearing the blue bib denoting that she’s fastest in Europe this year, Barrett cruised through her heat in 13.37 (-0.3) before clocking 13.41 in her semi-final running into a 1.4m/s headwind. Despite qualifying fastest the British junior record holder believes she can still go faster.

“When I got to the stadium today you could feel the wind. The run was ok, but I’m hoping it’ll get better. My speed and power into the hurdles could be better, so hopefully I’ll tidy that up.”

Sophie Yorke (David Warner) also made sure of her place, following up a 13.58 (0.5) qualifying round with 13.75 run into an even bigger 2.4m/s headwind, good for third in her semi. She was delighted to make the final:

“I’m actually buzzing – I didn’t expect it. My goal was to make the semis so I did that and just thought whatever happens, happens. The time wasn’t great but obviously the headwind was massive so I’ve just got to conquer those last couple of hurdles and I’ll aim for a PB, conditions depending, tomorrow.”

In the men’s sprint hurdles Robert Sakala (Piotr Spas) backed up second place in his heat in 13.62 (0.8) with a 13.88 (-1.4) run for third in his semi-final. Despite qualifying for the final as a fastest loser the 19 year old was fourth fastest overall, having been drawn in the fastest of the semis.

It was a case of so near, but yet so far for the other two Brits, as despite third place finishes they didn’t advance. Both battling huge headwinds, Jason Nicholson (Janice Kaufman) was third in 14.09 (-1.9), whilst Cameron Fillery (Trevor Simcox) ran 14.11 into a 4.2m/s headwind.

There was relief for Divine Oladipo (John Hillier) who scrapped through to the shot put final in the twelfth and final qualifying spot, afterwards commenting:

“That’s such a relief – I didn’t think I’d made it but I did, so now it’s time to go in the final. I woke up yesterday with a very stiff neck – I couldn’t move it. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to compete in the discus yesterday, but I did, however I wasn’t able to qualify. Thankfully I didn’t make it worse for the shot today and I managed to qualify in that so I’m very happy about that. Now I’ve just got to sort it out ahead of the final.”

Joel Leon Benitez (Alan Richardson) made light work of an almost never ending pole vault qualifying round, clearing both 5.00m and 5.10m to advance to the final with ease.

There was more good news as both Hannah Williams (Colin Gaynor) and Lauren Russell (Coral Nourrice) ensured they’ll be lining up in the women’s 400m final on Saturday evening. In the first of two semi-finals Williams ran a fast first 300m before easing off the gas slightly to finish second in 53.61, times affected by the gusty wind. On the outside in the second race Russell also got out well, pushing all the way to line to bag the last fastest losers spot in 54.14, much to her delight.

Going in the second of three men’s 400m semi-finals Owen Richardson (John Davis) ran an aggressive race, tying up slightly in the final 50m and crossing the line in a four way blanket finish. Despite being fourth, Richardson advanced fourth quickest for the final with his 46.85 run.

All three British girls made it safely through to the 1500m final, Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden) leading the first heat gun to tape, easing down in the home straight to take the second of four automatic spots. Amelia Quirk (Beverley Kitching) forced the pace over the final 800m in the second heat, ensuring that despite a trip on the line and fifth place finish she’d advance as a fastest loser. Jemma Reekie (Andy Young) produced a no fuss run to emulate Knowles-Jones’ second place finish.

Markhim Lonsdale (Keith Lonsdale) showed why he’s wearing the blue bib in the men’s 800m, running an assured heat, moving to the front in the final 200m before easing away in the final 100m to win in 1.53.92. Despite some confusion over which heat he would run in, Ben Greenwood (Catriona Tavendale) kept his composure, running a smart race to advance in second place. The final Brit in action was Canaan Solomon (Richard Thurston) and he too progressed in third, despite giving himself a lot to do over the final 200m.

Ellie Baker (George Harrison) and Khahisa Mhlanga (Mick Judd) made sure of their places in the women’s 800m final as they won their heats in 2.08.90 and 2.08.47 respectively meaning all five British 800m runners advanced on the day.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase William Battershill wasn’t about to leave qualification to chance, running from the front from the off, coming home a comfortable third in 9.07.97 to advance.

Orla Brothers (Marina Armstrong) put together a strong qualifying run in the first round of the women’s 400mH, her time of 59.81 just outside her PB. Finishing fourth, she advanced as a fastest loser, however would have progressed automatically in two of the other three races. In the men’s event there was disappointment for Alex Knibbs (Julie Feeney) who was disqualified for a false start.

Closing out the second day of competition all five British 200m runners advanced to the semi-finals with a clean bill of health Maya Bruney (John Blackie) the standout performer as she set a new personal best of 23.47 (-1.9) to win her heat. Alishia Rees (Willy Russell) eased down for second in her heat. In the men’s event there were also victories for Jona Efoloko (John Smith) and Toby Harries (Jon Bigg) whilst Nick Stewart (Ryan Freckleton) was third.

Full results can be found by clicking here