15th July 2023


It was another enthralling day for the GB & NI team at the European U23 Championships in Espoo, Finland, with two more gold medals added to the tally from the women’s 4x100m relay team and Alice Goodall in the women’s 10,000m.

In an exciting battle for gold in the Women’s 10,000m, Edinburgh’s Alice Goodall (Coach: Mark Nixon) reigned supreme. Taking the lead from the start, Goodall set a fierce pace, going through the first 5k in 16:53.22, with Italy’s Sara Nestola and Greece’s Maria Kassou hot on her heels.

It was after 6000m, that Goodall started to up the pace which saw her drop Greece’s Maria Kassou from the group, but she would find it harder to shake Italy’s Nestola. From that point on it was a two-women race, with Goodall firmly in control. As if the 10,000m wasn’t enough of a challenge, the women had to contend with 24-degree heat and while some shows signs of suffering, Goodall continued her stunning performance, going through 8000m in 26:52.17.

With just over 1500m to go, Goodall once again increased the pace, but Nestola was still over her shoulder, until the final straight, where Goodall gave the final kick that would secure her the title as European U23 Champion, in a time of 33:16.45.

Speaking afterwards, a delighted Goodall said: “The race was stressful having someone on your shoulder until the final 100m, but it went how I wanted it to. The plan had been to keep it reserved for the first 5k, and then pick it up lap by lap after that, which I did quite well, but I didn’t expect to have someone so close behind and was hoping my kick at the end would be enough to hold her off.”

The women’s 4x100m relay quartet of Cassie-Ann Pemberton (Clarence Callender, Birchfield), Amy Hunt (Joe McDonnell, Charnwood), Alyson Bell (Anne Scott, Glasgow Jaguars) and Aleeya Sibbons (Coral Nourrice, Newham & Essex Beagles) sealed a memorable gold after a stellar performance to take the European U23 title.

Out in front from the beginning, Pemberton passed the baton smoothly to teammate Hunt, who strengthened the lead to pass it to Alyson Bell in the second change over. Bell expertly handed the baton to Sibbons for the final flourish, and there was no stopping them, with a clear lead as they went for gold, setting a new Championship record of 43.04.

Earlier in the day they were comfortable winners in their heat and the fastest quartet overall in a then European U23 leading time of 43.66 to qualify through to the final.

After the teams celebrations, Bell said: “We knew we were four quick girls and we get along so well. We’ve been putting in lots of practice so consistently over the years.”

These thoughts backed-up by teammate, Pemberton who added, “We knew we had so much left in the tank after the heat, so we are happy with our performance.”

There was further British representation in the finals on Saturday evening as GB & NI’s duo, Elise Thorner (Joe Franklin, Wells City) and Sarah Tait (Linda Smith, Glasgow Jaguars) finished in the top six – but outside the medals – in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.

Current GB U23 record holder, Thorner ran a hard-fought race, and try as she might to catch the top three, there was a six second gap separating her from the medals but she took fourth position in a time of 9:47.85, just behind Spain’s Marta Serrano in third in 9:41.47.

Not far behind was Tait, who ran the best race of her career to date with a PB of 9:54.74, her first sub-10-minute performance of her career.

Matthew Stonier (Sonia & Chris McGeorge, Invicta East Kent) was involved in a highly competitive men’s 1500m which all came down to a final sprint for the line, and after trying to get into the best position to attack for the line, he ultimately took fourth place in 3:44.31.

It was still all to play for in the last 400m with the full 12 athletes sitting together until the final stretch, where Stonier sat on the heels of Sweden’s Samuel Pihlstrom, but could not quite overhaul his opponent to reach the podium.

In the other final with GB & NI presence on Saturday evening, it was not to be for Harrow’s Jade Spencer-Smith (Richard Humby) in the women’s pole vault final. She qualified from her group with a height of 4.20m but was unfortunate to no-height in the final.

21-year-old James Hanson (Jake Awe, Woking) got his European U23 Championships campaign off to a flying start as he progressed for Sunday’s men’s 200m semi-finals.

With only the top two guaranteed an automatic spot in the semis, Hanson was made to sweat after finishing third in the second of five heats.

However, his time of 21.12 (0.113) (w/s +0.1) – adjudged to be ahead of Hugo Cerra (FRA) in the same heat by a matter of milliseconds – was enough to see him go through as a non-automatic qualifier to tomorrow morning’s semi-finals.

Kicking off the day in Espoo was the men’s Decathlon with British duo Ollie Thorner (Toby Stevenson, Wells City) and Jack Turner (Kevin Skinner, Exeter) in action.

Jack Turner (Kevin Skinner, Exeter) ended the day in fifth position overall after several top drawer performances. He started the day with 10.86 (w/s -0.3) in the 100m, then added a further 900 points to his tally with a mark of 7.36m in the long jump. A throw of 12.70m on his first attempt in the shot put placed him 10th place overall after the morning session. He returned with a 1.82m clearance in the high jump and a clocking of 48.32 in the 400m to complete five events on 4138 points.

As for Thorner, it looked on course to be a day to remember for the Wells City athlete but he had to withdraw before the 400m due to injury. He started strongly with a personal best in the 100m in a time of 10.94 (w/s +1.3), some 0.03 seconds faster than his previous PB. A second lifetime best of the morning followed in the long jump with 6.99m (w/s +1.2). Thorner set another one in the shot put with 13.46m, before clearing 1.94m in the high jump. However, he did not start the 400m so it abruptly brought his event to a close.

Earlier in the day, there were several athletes in qualification action.

The men’s 4x400m relay team proved they are a real threat for the medals on Sunday afternoon as they finished second in their heat in a season best of 3:06.21.

The quartet consisting of Ethan Brown (Blackheath & Bromley), Isaac Corry (Sandra Woodman, Yate), Emmanuel Agyare (Enfield & Haringey) and Brodie Young (James McMenemy, Glasgow Jaguars) were pleased with their progression with Brown adding, “We felt really good and we are pleased with how that went. We are looking forward to the final and will be going for that gold.”

It was success all round for the GB & NI trio in the women’s 1500m as all three qualified for the final.

First up was Alex Millard (Bill Foster, Invicta East Kent) in heat one who took up the lead after the first lap, to up the pace and stretch out the field. Although she was passed by Ireland’s Sophie O’Sullivan in the closing stages, the European U23 cross country medallist was hot on her heels in 4:18.81.

Heat two saw Sarah Calvert (Lewis Walker, Livingston) holding pace in the top five in the fastest heat of the qualification groups. The BUCS Cross Country Champion made a push for second place in the last 200m to finish in 4:16.50 and held onto that automatic qualifying spot just behind Poland’s Klaudia Kazimierska who ran 4:16.20.

Shannon Flockhart (Mark Vile, Cambridge & Coleridge) made it three from three for the British contingent as she also came home in second place in heat three in a time of 4:17.02.

Back on the track, Luca Minale (Wayne Vinton, Gateshead) ensured he would be back for the men’s 3000m steeplechase final after a solid display. Sitting comfortably in fifth place for the first 2000m, the England U23 Silver medallist maintained his form and position going into the final stretch, coming home in 8:52.26 to qualify through to the final as an automatic qualifier.

However, Thomas Bridger (Mark Vile, Cambridge & Coleridge) did not join him in that final after placing eighth in heat two. With only the top five from each heat guaranteed a place in Sunday’s showcase, his time of 9:10.39 was not enough for him to seal a non-automatic qualifier spot.

George Seery (Stewart Marshall, Blackheath & Bromley) was back on the track in the men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals. He finished sixth in a time of 51.25 which did not see him progress to the final.

Results can be found here

Watch the action live via allathletics.tv