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UK Athletics

NU GB combined eventers hot in Berne

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The Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team had such a magnificent first day at the Under 23 and Under 20 Combined Events International in Berne, Switzerland, on Saturday 22 July that Louise Hazel was in sight of the UK Athletics Development standard for the European Championships while Daniel Awde and Dominique Blaize were aiming for the qualifying standards for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing.


“The story just gets better and better,” said Norwich Union GB Team Leader Ian Grant a fortnight after superb performances at the European Cup of Combined Events.


In Berne, three of the four squads ended the day leading in their age group competitions and six of the eight women enjoyed their most successful ever opening day of a heptathlon.


Only a fortnight after scoring a lifetime heptathlon best to help the Norwich Union GB Senior Women to their best-ever position, fourth, in the European Cup of Combined Events Super League in Arles, France, Hazel (Peterborough AC) led the Berne competition after the first day with 3437 points. She was only 17 points down on her brilliant first day in Arles – and only 34 points off the UKA Development Standard for the European Championships to be staged in Gothenburg. She opened with a 100m hurdles (wind: +0.5 metres per second) in 13.66 seconds, high jumped 1.66m, achieved a personal best of 11.71m in the shot and sprinted 200m (wind: +1.6) in 24.20 seconds.


Phyllis Agbo (Thames Valley Harriers), who also contributed a personal best to the Cup success in Arles, established herself in second place in Berne with a solid series of events: 100m hurdles (+0.5) in 13.09; high jump 1.66m, within 1cm of her best; 12.12m shot; 25.11 seconds 200m (+1.6). It earned her 3318 points, eight points up on her legal best in Arles.


Katia Lannon (Sale Harriers Manchester) took sixth place with 3243, which is her best first day by 311 points. She opened with a 100m hurdles PB of 14.39 seconds (wind: +0.7); high jumped a relatively disappointing 1.66m; bounced back with another PB in the shot, 12.29m; and went on to sprint the 200m in a legal PB of 25.60 seconds despite a head wind measuring -1.2 m/s.


Catherine Holdsworth (Colchester Harriers) was 10th with 3091 points, only 34 shy of her best yet first day, after a 14.18 seconds 200m (+0.7), 1.60m high jump, 11.18m shot and 26.02 seconds 200m (-1.2).


It meant that the Norwich Union GB Under 23 Women led their competition with 9998 points ahead of France 9658 and Switzerland 8774.


It was a similar story in the Under 20 Women’s competition: Norwich Union GB led with 9091 points from Switzerland 8370 and France 8366.


Dominique Blaize (Kingston and Poly AC) led the individual competition with 3424 points, a PB first day by 162. She opened with a 200m PB of 14.14 seconds (wind: +1.5); high jumped 1.72m; put the shot another PB, 12.34m; and sprinted a magnificent 200m into a 2.5 metres per second head wind, clocking 24.84 seconds, a PB by 0.35sec. Hopes are high that, if her natural ability continues to be boosted by the team spirit generated throughout this squad, she can be pushed to achieve the entry standard of 5400 for the World Junior Championships in Beijing.


Gemma Weetman (Oswestry Olympians) placed second with 3073 points, a PB first day by 216. She sprinted a 100m hurdles PB of 14.46 seconds (wind: +0.5), high jumped a PB of 1.66m; put the shot a PB of 9.85m; and sprinted 200m in 25.59, not a PB but the wind had blown up to -2.5 metres per second.


Amy Hill (Sheffield AC) was third with 3058, a PB by 99 points. She clocked a 100m hurdles PB of 14.72 (+0.5), high jumped 1.54m, put the shot a PB 12.78m and was only three-hundredths of a second outside her 200m PB, clocking 25.97 seconds into a head wind officially measured at –3.7 metres per second.


Jenny Lumley (Leeds City AC) was fifth on her international debut, scoring 2960 points, her best yet first day by 77 points. She made a nerveless first appearance in a Norwich Union GB vest, sprinting 100m hurdles in 15.31 seconds, within two-hundredths of a second of her best, aided by a gentle breeze of +0.5; high jumped 1.72m; put the shot 9.87m; and sprinted 200m in 26.44 seconds into a head wind of -3.7.


Continuing Norwich Union GB’s domination, Daniel Awde (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) produced an outstanding series of decathlon performances to move into line for the qualifying standard of 7200 for Beijing to follow his AAA Championships victory with 7009 points. He scored 3979 points, an improvement of 384 on his previous most productive first day, with the help of some astounding bests. He started with a 100m (wind: +0.2) in 10.95 seconds, a massive improvement on his 11.57 at the AAAs. Then he improved his long jump PB to 7.21m from 6.88m with the aid of a freshening but modest wind speed +1.4. After a shot put of 11.77m, his high jump PB leapt to 1.92m from 1.87. And he closed is day’s efforts by storming round the 400m in 47.77 seconds, continuing an amazing progression from 49.05 at the AAA Combined Events Championships and a hand-timed 48.4 at an English Schools qualifying meet.


Guy Stroud (Exeter Harriers) placed eighth with 3662, a PB by 159 points: 100m (wind: +0.4) 11.42; long jump 6.75m (wind: -0.2); shot a PB 13.18m; high jump 1.80m; 400m 49.60 seconds, only one-hundredth in excess of his best.


Ricardo Beckford (London Heathside AC) was 10th with 3576, a PB by 126: 100m (wind: +1.4) 11.26; long jump 6.83 (+1.7); shot put 10.88m, high jump 1.83m; 400m 50.18.


Neil Crossley (Cheltenham and County Harriers) was 14th on his international debut with 3362 points, within 125 of his best: 100m (wind: +0.6) 11.78; long jump 6.31m (+0.9); shot put 13.38m; high jump a PB of 1.80m; and 400m in 52.68.

Under 20 Men’s team situation after first day: 1 Germany 11,714; 2 Switzerland 11,310; 3 Norwich Union GB 11,217; 4 France 10,047.


The Norwich Union GB squad led the Under 23 Men’s competition – and, with only 39 points separating all four of them, the stage was set for a tremendous second day battle for pride as well as points.


Ed Dunford (Birchfield Harriers), the only member of the quartet not in the Norwich Union GB Senior Men Team that retained its status in the European Cup of Combined Events First League a fortnight ago, was third overnight with 3797 points, an encouraging improvement on his AAAs form: 100m (wind: +0.8) 11.34; long jump 7.02 (0.0); shot put 14.64m; high jump 1.89m; 400m 52.10.


Ben Hazell (Basingstoke and Mid Hants) was fourth with 3788, seven up on his previous best: 100m (+0.8) 11.19; long jump 6.87m (+0.7); shot 13.25m; high jump 1.83m and a sparkling 400m in 49.21.


Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) was fifth with 3770, only 28 points below his best first day score. He opened with a 100m legal PB of 11.10 seconds (wind: +0.7); long jumped 6.80m; put the shot 11.99m; high jumped 1.98m; and ran 400m in 50.90 seconds.


Dean Showler-Davis (Winchester and District) was sixth 3758, 55 down on his best. His 100m (wind: +0.7) was a legal PB of 10.76 (+0.7); long jump 6.98m (wind: +2.1); shot 11.32m; high jump 1.83m; and 400m 49.97 seconds.

Under 23 Men’s team situation after first day: 1 Norwich Union GB 11,355; 2 France 11,312; 3 Switzerland 10,962.