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Tom Parsons leaps for place in Osaka team

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Tom Parsons: Osaka aim
Tom Parsons: Osaka aim

UK Challenge champion Tom Parsons (Birchfield Harriers) will be waiting anxiously for the selectors to finalise the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the IAAF World Championships in Osaka after clearing 2.27m at a Jumps International in Uden, Netherlands, on Saturday 4 August.


It is the second B-standard clearance of the season by Parsons, who prides himself on improving his personal best in every year since he took up the event as a teenager.


He cleared 2.28m at the Midland Championships in Birmingham last month and, after sealing victory in Uden, he went close to the A-standard of 2.30m. Simultaneously, Samson Oni (Belgrave Harriers) cleared 2.23m to win the British League Premiership incorporating the UK Challenge at Barnet.


So Parsons now waits to see whether he has done enough to persuade the selectors to add him to the Osaka team, which already includes European Indoors bronze medallist Martyn Bernard (Wakefield Harriers) and Germaine Mason (unattached), who have cleared 2.30m this year.


The Uden match – in which an England team, with Celtic representation, provided quality opposition for the Netherlands as a follow-up to the Norwich Union Indoor Jumps International at Lee Valley in February – also enabled two UK athletes to improve their lifetime bests.


Elliot O’Neill (Cardiff AAC), building on the experience he gained at last month’s European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, triple jumped 16.16m, a 19cm improvement on his previous legal best.


His fellow UWIC graduate, Louise Butterworth (Birchfield Harriers) – another of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the European Under 23 Championships – pole vaulted 4.15m to add 5cm to her previous best while Emma Lyons (Notts AC) had to settle for 3.95m on this occasion.


The squad for Uden was selected based on standards achieved and the youngest traveller, 15-year-old pole vaulter Jade Ive (Sutton and District AC) justified her flight by clearing 3.75m and having good attempts at 3.85m, the PB that places her top of the Power of 10 Under 17 Women’s rankings at the moment.


Fellow Under 17 Sally Scott (Gateshead Harriers) also cleared 3.75m to follow-up her Norwich Union GB debut at Lee Valley during the winter.


The trip also gave them the priceless opportunity to study how established international athletes approach a competition.


Commonwealth bronze medallist Steve Lewis (Newham and Essex Beagles) cleared 5.45m in the men’s pole vault, within 16cm of the stadium record he set when winning in Manchester last weekend at the Norwich Union World Trials and UK Championships. Paul Walker (Sale Harriers Manchester) cleared 5.05m and Under 20 Ryszard Buk (Croydon Harriers) 4.50m.


Two long jumpers who duelled in Debrecen had a close battle in Uden: Chris Kirk reached 7.31m and his Newham and Essex Beagles clubmate JJ Jegede 7.30m.


In the women’s long jump, UK No.1 Jade Johnson (Herne Hill Harriers) had a best on the night of 6.39m.


Nadia Williams (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) took a weekend off UK Challenge – she is currently on course to retain the women’s triple jump title – and reached 12.76m.


And the country’s leading Under 20 high jumpers gained more experience following their outings at the recent European Junior Championships in Hengelo. Vikki Hubbard (Grantham AC) again cleared 1.82m, the height at which she finished a frustrated fourth on countback a fortnight ago. Adele Lassu (Barnsley AC) reached 1.80m, 6cm better than in Hengelo to bounce back convincingly from her disappointment of not reaching the championships final.