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European U20 Trials

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Jonny Hay

 

25 June 2011

There was some superb competition in prospect at Bedford on Saturday as junior athletes competed for spaces on the Aviva GB & NI team for the European U20 Championships in Tallinn, Estonia 21-24 July.

The trial, held as part of the England U20 and U23 championships was the final stepping stone for many athletes to secure selection this weekend, and in some cases obtain the selection marks that had so far eluded them this season. But the typically windy Bedford climate prevented many of the sprint events producing legal qualification standards, such was the strength of the following wind

Report:

Youth Olympic Games Bronze medalist David Bolarinwa (John Powell) and World Junior gold medallist Jodie Williams (Mike McFarlane) were predicted 100m victors, but the focus was mainly on their fellow finalists and the quest for qualification.

Throughout the heats and semi finals, huge backwinds meant several athletes swept inside the qualifying marks, but Marilyn Nwawalor’s (Harry King) 11.59 semi final clocking with a +1.4m/s wind was the only one for whom the day’s competition produced the goods.

In the women’s final, Williams took the win with 11.33 (+2.5m/s) ahead of Desiree Henry and Nwawalor - Henry already selected to the 200m at the World Youth Championships in Lille.

In the men’s final, there was the added drama of a photo finish between Bolarinwa and Adam Gemili (John Blackie) both clocking 10.23 – proving their first competitive meeting in 2011 to be as explosive as expected. After a lengthy delay, Bolarinwa received the nod although Gemili was deserving of the huge improvement on his PB that he earned earlier in the day in the heats - 10.35 with a legal +1.4m/s wind.

Earlier, in the 800m, Rowena Cole (Norma Pugh) ignored the windy conditions and put an injury-ruined 2010 behind her with a comprehensive victory in the women’s 800m final booking her seat on the plane to Tallinn. The 2009 World Youth bronze medallist turned her ankle in April 2010 which ruled her out of the summer season including last summer’s World Junior Championships in Moncton. However, looking relaxed as she took in her final, she was an easy winner clocking 2:07.93 ahead of Alex Bell (Aaron Thomas) in second with 2:09.66.

“I’m so happy, especially after I missed out on the Worlds last year” she smiled. “I’ve been working really hard to come back and it’s been hard mentally following the disappointment of last year.

“I’m not putting any pressure on myself for the European Juniors, just going to take it step by step – after all you can’t do anything unless you get to the final in the first place. I find I run much better if I take the pressure of myself and enjoy it, like I did today!”

The men’s 800m qualifiers for Sunday’s final featured the in-form Birchfield Harrier Adam Cotton (John Nuttall), who led his heat from start to finish ahead of Notts AC’s Robert Needham (Trevor Muxlow) – and topping the qualifiers in 1:52.50

In the women’s 1500m – run as a straight final and the first track final of the weekend, Georgia Peel (Mick Woods) took off at the bell and put clear daylight between herself and the rest of the field. Peel, already selected for the World Youth Championships in Lille and therefore not eligible for European Junior selection, crossed the line in 4:19.80. All eyes were then focussed on the fast finishing second placed Spenborough athlete Jennifer Walsh (Deborah Rowlands) who sprinted home in 4:21.28 and grabbed a rather timely European Championship qualifier.

The men’s 1500m semi finals ahead of Sunday’s final held saw the main protagonists qualify with Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) and Tom Curr (Chris Frapwell) easing through in the first semi final, followed by Jonny Hay (Mick Woods) and Marcus Bridger Wilkinson (Karen Yewer) in the second ; Hay’s 3:52.43 the fastest from the two heats.

It wasn’t the end of Hay’s work for the afternoon however – he had the small task of the 5000m final to attend to, and just hours later lined up as favourite for that title.

Looking completely in control of the race, he ran away with the win in a leisurely 14:35.85 ahead of Jonathan Hopkins in  14:43.67,  winding up the pace in the latter stages , and reconfirming his status as number one ranked junior over 5000m in Europe. But in true Hay fashion, he was determined to improve on his haul for the weekend even further:

“I really want to see if I can do the double this weekend,” he revealed. “In the five I was happy to sit in and hopefully prevail at the end, and that’s following on from having run the 1500m heat I had earlier.”

“This weekend is all about managing myself and getting through the two events well. I want to see if I can do the double at the European Juniors . If I had to choose though I’d go with the 5000m – there’s less chances of it getting messy and the 1500m is a more risky race.”

In the women’s hammer, Abi Carter (Dave Smith) secured her place in the GB team with a 53.87m throw to take the England U20 title. Carter had already thrown beyond the UKA qualifying standard of 57.00m this season with 59.55m at the Loughborough International Match. Myra Perkins (Alan Bertram), the only other thrower holding the selection standard with 61.94m exited the competition following three no-throws.

The men’s pole vault final finished with four athletes level on 4.80m, including the one athlete to have secured the qualification standard of 5.00m this season; Cameron Walker Shepherd (Charles Preston). Walker-Shepherd, was fourth having finished on the same height as title winner and World Youth Championship selected Rowan May (Peter Hill) albeit with an inferior count-back record.

However, Katie Byers (Julien Raffalli Ebezant) made short work of confirming her place in the Aviva GB & NI team. Winning the competition with a 4.00m clearance she also met the qualification standard for the seventh time in 2011:

“I’m really pleased to get the title. Training is going really well at the moment and I’m working hard towards those next heights which I know I can get – I’m getting them in training!” she said.

“The wind didn’t bother me too much today – I’ve done quite a few comps outdoors and I know to wait for the right time to jump.”

Elsewhere on the field the javelin was another of the day’s success stories with the top two athletes Joe Dunderdale (David Parker) and Richard Shuttleworth (Bronwin Carter) also combining podium performances whilst surpassing the qualification standard of 68.00m. Dunderdale setting a PB of 72.55m, and Shuttleworth launching his best effort to 68.21m.

The women’s competition soon after also featured strong performances as expected with Izzy Jeffs (Simon de Wilton) throwing in excess of the European qualification standard of 48.50m in her win over second placed Freya Jones (William Bushnell). Jeffs managed 49.61m, with Jones throwing a best effort of 48.10m – although Jones already has a season’s best of 52.82 from last month.

There was an exciting finish to the men’s 3000m steeplechase final although the marks fell short of the UKA qualifying standard. Looking as though he had wrapped up the victory, Shettleston Harrier Lachlan Oates was just metres from the line when the fast finishing Jack Partridge swept past to take the England championship title in 9:19.17 to Oates’ 9:19.91.

Finally, in the long jump, results were blighted by the Bedford winds and despite winner Allan Hamilton (John Scott) setting a qualification distance of 7.45m, the +2.4m/s wind ruled it ineligible for selection purposes.

For full results from the day please visit the England Athletics Results Website