[Skip to content]

Search our Site
  • Instagram Icon
  • RSS Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • YouTube Icon
UK Athletics
In this section

European Junior Championships Day 1 full report

Share this

Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Tell friends via WhatsApp Email us
Daniel Awde
Daniel Awde

Eleven Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes successfully negotiated their first challenges on the first day of the European Junior Championships, which have attracted more than 900 competitors from 46 nations to Hengelo in the Netherlands. Read on to see how the athletes set about their tasks and what they say about their performances on Thursday 19 July.


Decathlon: Men’s Team Captain Daniel Awde (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) was the first Norwich Union GB&NI athlete in action – and finished the opening day within 69 points of a medal position.

He gave himself and the team a flying start in the first of his 10 events, the 100m (wind: +0.3 metres per second) by clocking a lifetime best of 10.85 seconds, an improvement of a full tenth of a second on his previous fastest. His sprint earned him fourth place both in his heat and overall among the 22 competitors for 894 points behind the first three in his heat: 1 Sveinn Elias Eliasson (Iceland) 10.73 seconds / 922 points; 2 Rok Derzanic (Slovenia) 10.76 / 915; 3 Mantas Silkauskas (Lithuania) 10.83 / 899. Awde said: “I’m happy with that – leading by example!”

In the long jump Awde went out to 7.06m for 828 points. It left him placed sixth after two events on 1722 points. Derzanic led with 1750 points. “It’s my second best jump ever,” Awde was delighted to report.

In the shot, Awde’s best of 12.07m earned him 693 points. So he was ninth after three events with 2333 points, 270 behind leader Matthias Prey (Germany), who put the shot 16.26m for 867 points. “It’s my fault; I have to learn to deal with it,” said Awde.

In the high jump, he cleared 1.89m for 705 points to lie in 11th position overall with 3038 points 114 behind leader Prey. Awde said: “I’m on top of the world. I’ve been having real problems with my ankles so I’m delighted.”

To close the first day, Awde with the fastest time of all in the 400m. He clocked 48.16 seconds for 901 points, and said: “I absolutely hate lane eight. I’m pleased with that.”

It meant he reached halfway in the competition with 3939 points for fourth place behind: 1 Prey 4077; 2 Derzanic 4071; 3 Eliasson 4007. “I’m really happy with today,” Awde concluded.


Eden Francis
Eden Francis

Women’s shot qualifying: Fresh from breaking a 24-year-old record at last weekend’s Sainsbury’s English Schools Championships, Eden Francis (Leicester Coritanian) sailed through to the final.

Her first attempt went out to 15.57m, well beyond the automatic qualifying mark of 15.20m.

"That's the shortest competition of my life," she said. "It's weird. I warmed-up for an hour and competed for two seconds. And I threw it off my little finger. I thought it would land at 10 metres but it just went on and on."

It earned her second place among the 20 competitors in the two qualifying groups. The only athlete ahead of her was Melissa Boekelman (Netherlands), the reigning World and European Junior Champion who is the host nation's biggest hope by far for a medal at these championships. She threw 16.46m with her only attempt to make sure she will start the final as the favourite.


Perry Shakes-Drayton
Perry Shakes-Drayton

Women’s 400m hurdles first round: Women’s Team Captain Perri Shakes-Drayton (Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC) was next up, thanks to a coincidence of timetabling. She eased to victory from lane three of the first heat in 57.72 seconds, within 0.24sec of her best.

After taking the first half of the race steadily, she accelerated round the top bend to assert herself and then ran an easy straight to finish 0.44sec ahead of runner-up Darya Korableva (Russia).

“It was good out there and I felt good,” said Shakes-Drayton.

Meghan Beesley (Tamworth AC) – who is related to the creator of the London A-Z guide – successfully negotiated heat four from lane seven. She eased over the line in second place in 60.12 seconds to earn automatic progress. “All I wanted to do was qualifying for the next round,” she said after finishing comfortably behind Tina Polak (Poland), who clocked 59.40.


Men’s 400m hurdles first round: Norwich Union GB&NI will have two representatives in the final.

Nathan Woodward (Tamworth AC) qualified automatically for the final by finishing second in heat one in 52.32 seconds, then said: “My last few hurdles were a bit abysmal. I lost my rhythm. But all I wanted to do was qualify for the final. In the final, if I push through the first 200m, my stride will fall into place and if I can get those last few hurdles right, who knows?”

Toby Ulm (Swindon Harriers) also qualified automatically, second in his heat in 51.99 seconds behind an impressive 5.143 by Silvio Schirrmeister (Germany). “That’s the first time I’ve lost a heat in a while,” said Ulm. “Maybe it’s a kick up the backside to top messing around. I’m through, that’s the main thing, but in the last 100m I didn’t feel how I should have. I don’t know why.”

The qualifiers for the final were led by Mickael Francois (France) with 51.09 seconds. Ulm was fifth-fastest and Woodward seventh-fastest.

David Martin (Glasgow Victoria Park AC) called a halt to his gallant bid after the fifth hurdle. He had tried to defy food poisoning to pursue his dream of a place in the final. “I was up all Tuesday night,” he revealed. “I had no energy today but I really wanted to give it a go. Hopefully I will recover in time for the 4x400m.”


Women’s 100m first round: Anike Shand-Whittingham (Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC) overcame an injury scare and unprecedented nerves to scuttle to victory in her heat (wind: -0.6) in 11.80 seconds. She suffered a groin injury while warming-up on Tuesday night for her last training session. “It’s all thanks to physio James Moore that I passed my fitness test last night,” she said. “But I was shaking out here on the start line. That’s why they showed me a yellow card. I usually just go out and do what I have to do. I’m fine now. I got out of the blocks well. Then my lane numbers came off my hips and stuck to my hands so I had something else to think about! I thought I saw one of the girls coming up on me but the run went OK.”

Elaine O’Neill (Wessex and Bath AC) – bitten by an ant during warm-up – got her teeth into the competition by taking second place in her heat (wind: -0.1) in 11.80 seconds. “I kept my mind relaxed, drove and came through nicely,” she said before heading back to the warm-up track to take her revenge on the ant-heap.

Lucy Sargent (Havering Mayesbrook AC), in her fourth major championships as a junior, was sixth in her heat (wind: +0.5) in 12.06 seconds. The race winner, Ezinne Okparaebo (Norway) clocked 11.60, five-hundredths quicker than Sargent’s PB. She said: “I got left in the blocks. There was a false start to begin with then they held it over-long. I came through at the end but … It would have been nice to have gone out with a bang. But four years in the junior team – I can’t complain. And now the next four years are even more important!”


Women’s 100m semi-finals: 17-year-old Shand-Whittingham from Catford swept into the final by finishing third in her heat (wind: +0.5) in 11.67 seconds and said: “My first ‘major’ and I’ve made the final. Yet on Tuesday night I wouldn’t have given myself any chance of running never mind getting into the last eight. I was on the phone to my Mum, asking her to book me a flight and get me home. She said that instead she’d fly out to me.”

And there in the stands was her mum Theresa leaping with joy. “Tomorrow’s going to be my kind of day,” added Anike. “Get up, eat breakfast, go back to bed, get up, come and run. That’s how I like it!”

O’Neill didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after her semi-final. She knocked three-hundredths off her lifetime best but missed a place in the final by one-hundredth. She said after finishing fifth in 11.73 (wind: +0.8): “I definitely ran my best. I can’t fault myself. A hundredth – what’s that? A foot? Fifth is the place I always seem to come – it’s happened at English Schools and everywhere.”


Leevan Yearwood
Leevan Yearwood

Men’s 100m first round: Both James Alaka (also Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC) and Leevan Yearwood (Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC) qualified for tonight’s semi-finals.

Alaka was second in 10.62 seconds in his heat (wind: +0.2) behind Yannick Lesourd (France), whose winning time of 10.51 happens to be Alaka’s PB. “That was OK,” said the South Londoner. “I woke up this morning with my nose buned-up and my chest tight. When I’m on the track it disappears. This was a good run. It has eased my worries quite a bit. I’m happy with the time.”

Yearwood, who came into the championships top of the European Junior rankings with his PB of 10.30, won his heat in 10.53 seconds (wind: +0.6). He said: “I feel good, the track’s quick and I’m looking forward to the semi-final.”


Men’s 100m semi-finals: Poplar-based Yearwood led the charge into the final by winning the faster heat (wind: +0.8) in 10.34 seconds and said: “It felt good. It was a bit faster than I thought it would be. I think I can take it up a bit more in the middle phase. My main objective is the gold medal.”

Alaka was stunned to finish sixth in his heat (wind: +0.3) in 10.77 seconds and go out of the competition. “No excuses,” he said. “Just a bad race.”


Men’s discus qualifying: Brett Morse (Cardiff AAC), who was keeping goal for Dinas Powys Football Club in the Welsh First Division 18 months ago, saved his best til last. Seeking the automatic qualifying distance of 59.00m, he opened with a foul, then reached 53.41m. But he came up with 56.51m with his third and final effort to take second place in qualifying Group A behind the Championship record of 62.27m by Ivan Hryshyn (Ukraine).

Then Morse faced an agonising wait to be certain 11 throwers would not go past him in Group B. “I’m doing a Gary White,” said a relieved Morse, obviously inspired by the epic tale of the GB triple jumper who won the European Under 23 title after qualifying at the last gasp. “I came up with my best in the last round. In warm-up, I went over 59 metres, which was a bit worrying. I was a bit nervous.”

He need not have worried. He was fourth among the 12 qualifiers behind only Hryshyn, Russia’s Nikolay Sedyuk (60.36m) and Finland’s Joni Mattila (57.72m).

An hour and 40 minutes later in Group B, Chris Scott (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) was not able to find the form that earned him a PB of 55.49m in his efforts to qualify for these championships. His best on the day of 51.69m placed him 19th of the 32 competitors, which meant he was eliminated. He would have needed 53.84m to reach the final 12 of his first major championship.

"I was pinging-out some 57 metre throws in warm-up," he said. "Then I just shortened-up and threw like a clown. No excuses. I've competed against people who are better than me before."


Men’s 1500m semi-final: On his international track debut, Ricky Stevenson (New Marske Harriers) went down fighting. He missed an automatic place in the final by three hundredths of a second in the opening heat – and then watched the other semi-final run so much more quickly that all of the ‘fastest losers’ came from that heat.

Stevenson, who made his GB debut at last winter’s European Cross Country Championships, led through 400m in 61.56 seconds and 800m in 2:07.53, and slipped back to seventh in a tightly-packed echelon as the leaders went through 1200m in 3:08.67. When he began to fight-back down the back straight, he found himself bundled back to eighth and was still languishing in that position coming into the finishing straight. But he moved out to lane four to get a clear run, and clocked 3:51.60 for fifth place, just three-hundredths of a second behind the fourth and last qualifying spot.

“I left it a bit late,” he said afterwards, showing a masterly grasp of the understatement. “I got cut-up no end on the back straight. I led early on because, with it being the first heat, there was no point in it being slow. I gave myself a chance.”


Incidentally, the Women’s 1500m has gone to a straight final on Saturday, with the 13 competitors including Aldershot Farnham and District AC duo Emma Pallant and Stephanie Twell, the European Junior Cross Country Champion.


Women’s 400m semi-final: Holly Croxford (Winchester AC) was in tears after she finished seventh in her heat in 54.80 seconds – not so much because she had missed a place in the final but because: “I wanted to do well for George.”

Her first coach at Andover AC, George Williamson, looked after her from the age of 12 until she was a first-year Under 17 but died a couple of years ago. In only her fourth-ever 400m race, she did pretty well time-wise, getting within 0.52sec of her best on a humid evening.

The 17-year-old added: “I went off hard and tried to relax round the bend. In tried my best but I’m still learning.” The reigning World and European Junior Champion, Daniela Grgic (Croatia) won her race in 53.68.


Men’s 400m first round: Nigel Levine (Bedford and County AC), the top-ranked European Junior even though this is the first season he has raced the distance, qualified for the semi-finals in impressive style. He cruised the first half of his heat, sprinted into a 2 metre lead round the top bend, then cruised up the finishing straight, glancing around frequently and making sure he did just enough to lead the way over the line in 47.95 seconds. “That’s how you have to be,” he said, “in control – not just the race but yourself as well.”


Men’s javelin qualifying: Scottish senior record holder James Campbell (Cheltenham and County Harriers), who won the 2004 Commonwealth Youths’ title, faced a patient wait after finishing sixth in Group A with a last round 69.88m throw. Before that he was struggling with 65.39m and 65.89m in a competition headed by German duo Matthias De Zorno (75.90m) and Franz Burghagen (71.62m).

Campbell, whose lifetime best is 73.18m, said: “I managed to salvage something in the last round and give myself a chance. But I’m lost for words. I was better than that in warm-up and my second throw in competition felt like 70 metres – it was the first time this season that my left leg hasn’t crumpled. I can’t believe it hasn’t gone further.”

Once Group B got underway, an increasingly nervous Campbell was placed eighth overall after the first round, ninth after round two and – most important of all – 10th after round three. So bring on the final!


The team went into action with an inspirational rallying cry from Sydney Olympics 400m bronze medallist Katharine Merry ringing in their ears.


She flew to Hengelo after being one of the Norwich Union GB&NI team officials at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic.


And she arrived in time to address the Juniors’ eve-of-championships team meeting – and spoke with all the authority of an athlete who had a six-year career as a Junior International (yes, she made her debut aged 13!), including three European Junior Championships and three World Junior Championships plus four national junior records, nine AAA age group sprint titles and an English Schools pentathlon victory.


She told the 57 athletes preparing to compete in Hengelo: “Because I made the transition to senior athletics, I am here to fill in any gaps and talk about any doubts you have.


“When you come to a championship and wear a GB vest, people are looking at you to deliver performances. And I can tell you there is a buzz at home!”


She explained that, in between the age group championships, she worked at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Sheffield on Sunday and each time news was announced of another GB medal at the European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, the crowd was applauding.


And she told the teenagers: “You have done fantastically well to get here. But now nobody really cares much what you have done before. Go out and show people why you got selected. Tick all the boxes, leave no stone unturned and you can fly home next week and tell everyone, ‘I did the best I could possibly do.”


For detailed results from these championships please click here