7th August 2023


British sprint trio Renee Regis (coach: Tamunonengiye-Ofori Ossai, club: BFT Track Academy), Joy Eze (Gateshead/Harrow) and Sean Anyaogu (Ossai, BFT Track Academy) all lowered their personal bests to put themselves well and truly into major medal contention at the European Under-20 Championships as a further 13 British athletes advanced through the rounds on the first evening of action in Jerusalem.

Regis, a European under-18 bronze medallist from last year in Israel, and Eze, a bronze medallist at these Championships two years ago, each won their heats and semi-finals in the women’s 100m in supreme style, both legally clocking new personal bests of 11.36 seconds and 11.37 respectively in the semis to advance to the final as one-two overall.

Anyaogu ran superbly in the men’s 100m heats and semi-finals clocking a personal best of 10.30 in the latter to rank third overall going into the final with ten more British athletes assuring themselves a shot at a medal and three others moving onto semi-finals on a very busy night in the Holy City.

Michael Allison (Tom Dobbing, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) qualified for the men’s javelin final with his last throw of 71.14m, ranking second overall, while Ella Greenway (Joanna Evans, Cleethorpes) and Ava Lloyd (Trevor Painter, Wigan & District) progressed to the women’s 1500m medal showdown. Sam Mills (Harry Mills, Exeter) and Dan Galloway (Stuart Hamilton, Telford AC) did the same in the men’s 1500m.

Cleo Agyepong (John Hillier, Blackheath & Bromley) will compete in the women’s shot put final and Rhys Allen (David Callaway, Newham & Essex Beagles) will compete in the men’s discus final after both advanced out of qualification in 12th. Mia McIntosh (Jake Awe, Harrow) impressed in the women’s 100m hurdles with a run of 13.20 to make the semi-finals. She’ll be joined at that stage by Jessica Duncton (Paul Gripton, Birchfield Harriers) while Joseph Purbrick (Tony Jarrett, Shaftesbury Barnet) advanced similarly in the men’s 110m hurdles.

There was no doubting the stars of the night as Eze first powered through the women’s 100m heats in a rapid 11.28 – albeit illegal courtesy of a huge +3.9m/s tailwind. That came in the first of four heats and in the fourth Regis legally lowered her personal best to 11.37 with a victory.

The stage was set for fireworks in the semi-finals and the British pair, drawn apart, delivered. In the first semi-final Eze officially ran a personal best this time with 11.37 before Regis followed up by repeating the trick, this time stopping the clock at 11.36.

Those times put the pair 0.06 clear as the one-two going into the final 24 hours later and Regis said: “I am really happy with my performance with the two PBs and I got into the final so I cannot complain about it. I would just do what I did in the semi-final [in the final] because I got a PB. I still have to work on some things, but I am so happy with my performance and looking forward to the final.”

Eze, who claimed bronze in a then personal best of 11.44 at the last European Under-20 Championships in Tallinn two years ago, said: “It was a really good day. I was coming into this Championships feeling hopeful but not putting any pressure on myself. I’ve told myself to just enjoy the experience and see what happens. I managed to put two good races together so I am looking forward to the final.

“It was unfortunate [the illegal 11.28] but at least I know how it feels. I don’t feel I have had the opportunity to do my best because I have had mini set-backs, but my coach and I have worked hard to get myself to where I am now and the hard work is paying off.”

In the men’s javein, Allison saved his best until last to qualify for the final in what was an impressive second place overall. He occupied the last remaining position in 12th after opening efforts of 66.53m and 66.97m in Group B of qualification.

However Allison delivered when it mattered most with a third and final effort of 71.14m to slot into second overall after both Groups. Teammate Charlie Evans (Felicity Dawes, Banbury) was placed into Group A and ended with a best of 64.98m.

With around an hour between the end of both groups, that left Evans with an anxious wait on whether it would be enough to reach the final, and it would unfortunately leave him just one place shy in 13th overall. Allison meanwhile is relishing Wednesday’s final.

He said: “I made it way harder than it needed to be. I had a few technical issues in round one and two. There was a bit of a head wind out there and I was putting them too high. In the final round, I picked my hand up, threw it a bit lower and qualified pretty easy in the end.

“It’s good that I know when I put myself in a more difficult position than I need to be, that I can get out of it, but going forward I would rather not put myself in those positions. I’d love to medal so we will see what happens on Wednesday.”

Anyaogu was blistering in the men’s 100m heats as he clocked what would have been a huge personal best 10.26 but if not for an illegal wind of +2.1m/s. Clearly buoyed by his opening outing win in the second of four heats, he came out strong in the first semi-final.

He produced another great start and was neck and neck with Sweden’s Isak Hughes. His rival would take the win but Anyaogu managed a legal personal best of 10.30 this time, which would rank him third overall going into the final.

He said: “Two big PBs – I am very happy with that. Before this race, I had a few bits of stuff going wrong – cramping up and stuff – but I am still happy I ran that time, and I can go way faster in the final. It is good signs.

“He [Hughes] is fastest in Europe – it is good that I know I am there. I can take him in the final. It’ll give me more confidence to run another PB.”

With the women’s 1500m one of several events with a trio of British athletes, Greenway was first up in the evening’s heats. She took that first race out before settling into second and then making a push again coming down the home straight for a second time.

Greenway would settle into the pack over the last lap but knew exactly where she was positioned on the home straight and with five athletes around her, fourth in a time of 4:22.53 minutes was good enough for a final place.

She said: “It was what I was aiming for – run an easy race and hopefully get into the final and have a lot to spare. I feel good. I am not one for sitting around all day, but I use the energy to run. I would like to do well in the final, possibly get a PB, but we will see how it goes.”

Meanwhile in the second of the women’s 1500m heats, Abigail Stratton (Edmund Finucane, Blackburn) sat on the leader throughout the first two laps with British teammate Lloyd tucked in behind.

It remained very bunched in what was a far slower run race and at the bell Stratton was jostling for position while Lloyd was clearly biding her time at the back. The pair would swap places around the final bend with Lloyd impressively kicking to book a place in the final.

Surging through from last in the field of nine to fifth, Lloyd clocked 4:29.28 to secure a top-six place to advance while teammate Stratton unfortunately missed out as she placed ninth in 4:32.40.

Like women’s, the men’s 1500m heats also featured three Brits with Mills and Galloway drawn together in the first heat. There was slight commotion at the bell near to Mills but he kept his composure as the sprint for the finish began before then with 600m to go.

Mills and Galloway trusted in their kick and as the field started to fade they were secure in the top six needed to qualify for the final, eventually crossing the line neck and neck with the former given the win by a thousandth of a second in 3:54.62.

Mills said: “It was a very slow race. It [the pace at the end] took the sting out of some of the others but we knew we were strong. It’ll be the same approach for the final. I’ve come here for a medal and I’m going to give it everything I can.”

Galloway said: “I am pretty pleased. It played into our hands a bit. It started to wind up about 600m to go and you could see it with 250m to go, those who didn’t have a kick started to fade off and then with 100-150m to go it was only the guys that could kick. It [their performances] is definitely showing GB middle distance has got a lot of good young talent coming through.”

The British team just missed out on a clean sweep in the event as Tendai Nyabadza (Robert Hawkins, Harmeny) suffered a frustrating end to the second heat. Stretched out initially before bunching up, Nyabadza went wide as the bell approached in order to get ahead but was unfortunate to finish in 12th in 4:10.45.

In the shot, Agyepong, a champion from the European Under-18 Championships held in Jerusalem last year, booked her place in the European under-20 final courtesy of her first attempt after being placed in Group A in the women’s qualification.

She threw out to 14.15m with her first attempt before following up with 14.06m second time out. Agyepong unfortunately couldn’t go any further with her final effort as she fouled but 14.15m placed her sixth in Group A and 12th overall for a place in the final.

Allen meanwhile faced an agonising wait to see if his place in the men’s discus final would be confirmed. He produced a best of 54.19m from his series of three in Group A, which placed him a potentially tricky sixth overall from the first 11 athletes.

He had to watch on agonisingly as Group B took to the circle later in the evening, but the final result was great for Allen as only six athletes went better than him, meaning his 54.19m ranked him 12th overall for a place in the final.

McIntosh, who also won the European under-18 title on this very track in the Holy City last year, was supremely impressive in the heats of the women’s 100m hurdles and, but for a +2.4m/s wind, would have smashed her personal best.

Determined out of the blocks, McIntosh remained that way throughout the race and wasn’t going to let anyone but herself win the fourth and final heat as she crossed in 13.20 – her legal personal best stands at 13.44.

The time ranks her third overall going into the semi-finals and she said: “It felt amazing. I hit a few hurdles – one with my heel and one with my knee. I could see a girl a few lanes across and one next to me and I wasn’t having that [them winning]. I just put my foot down and turned over so quickly.

“I mean business here, I am here to win. I have had a really good year leading up to this, I have done everything that I needed to do to be here and to do well this week. I know this is my stadium, I am here to do it again.”

Earlier in the second heat of the women’s 100m hurdles teammate Duncton also ran a wind-assisted personal best as she too made the semi-finals. Her time of 13.39 was time assisted by a +2.1m/s wind – 0.01 quicker than her legal personal best.

Duncton secured automatic qualification by finishing third in that heat but the third Brit entered into the event Kira Holt (Richard Holt, Kingston & Poly) wasn’t able to join them, placing seventh in the opening heat in 14.04.

A debutant at this level for the British team, Duncton said: “It was windy and I am not used to running with the wind with me, I have been doing resistance. It’s a PB – obviously not legal – but it was good. I am really enjoying it.

“That was such an experience, it is the first time I have represented GB, so it was special. My aim is to reach the final. I believe you are in the final until you are not, so i am going with that.”

Purbrick was the first British athlete to secure progression on the first night of these Championships, automatically qualifying to the semi-finals of the men’s 110m hurdles as the lights started to come on in Jerusalem.

Purbrick battled for every inch – despite clipping some of the hurdles – with his dip at the line helping him clock 13.66 for third place in the fourth of six heats and a spot in the semi-finals automatically.

He said: “It’s a championship so [you take it] round by round. It doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you are through – that’s all that matters. I have got bits to work on. It is my first championship – you never know what to expect – but I have got a round under my belt, lots of hurdles hit but with a cleaner race in the semi-final, hopefully I’ll be through to the final.”

Teammate Ruben Hedman (Richard Holt, Shaftesbury Barnet) had earlier gone in the first of the six men’s 110m hurdles heats but unfortunately did not advance after clocking a time of 14.92.