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UK Challenge points at stake

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UK Challenge points for performances are at stake at competitions around the country.


Athletes will battle for glory in the British League Premiership and UK Women’s League Division One matches at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, BAL National One and UKWL Division Two at Thames Valley Athletics Centre, BAL National Two at Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Stadium, BAL National Three at Abingdon and the Carnegie Grand Prix of Race Walking at Leeds Metropolitan University on Saturday 7 July plus the UKWL Division Three at Stevenage and UKWL Division Four at Coventry on Sunday 8 July.


Birmingham – scene of the highly successful UK Challenge JumpsFest and ThrowsFest last weekend – will provide Mo Farah, the European 5000m silver medallist and cross country champion, with the chance to relaunch his season following a knee injury suffered in May. His participation in the 1500m, alongside Moumin Geele who was also born in Somalia but is now being helped by UK Athletics to obtain British citizenship, will boost Newham and Essex Beagles’ bid to rise above the relegation zone, which is somewhat congested.


After two of the four matches, City of Manchester (aka Sale Harriers) are clear with 16 points, Birchfield Harriers second with 13, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies third with 11 … and then City of Sheffield in their first season at this exalted level are level on 8 points with defending champions Belgrave, Beagles and Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers share 7 points and last summer’s Division One champions Trafford AC are at the foot of the table with 2 points. This is the second UKWL Division One match after the opener in Manchester finished: 1 City of Manchester 205; 2 Trafford AC 190; 3 Shaftesbury Barnet 180.5; 4 Birchfield 179; 5 Edinburgh 155.5; 6 Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 117; 7 City of Glasgow 114; 8 Cardiff 97.


Most of the clubs have been adversely affected by their athletes earning call-ups for matches in Budapest, Hungary, on Saturday and Varazdin, Croatia, on Sunday …


The England team for Budapest is: Men – 100m: Danny Doyley (Blackheath and Bromley). 400m: Conrad Williams (Kent AC). 800m: Michael Coltherd (Trafford). 110m hurdles: William Sharman. High jump: Samson Oni (both Belgrave). Shot: Kieren Kelly (Sale). Discus: Dan Greaves (a disabled athlete who earned selection with his heroics at the ThrowsFest). Women – 100m: Laura Turner (Harrow AC). 400m: Kelly Massey (Birchfield). 400m: Victoria Barr (Gateshead Harriers). 800m: Rachael Thompson (Liverpool Harriers), Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook). High jump: Vikki Hubbard (Grantham). Pole vault: Fiona Harrison (Trafford). Triple jump: Yasmine Regis (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow). Shot: Rebecca Peak (Sale). Discus: Emma Carpenter (Exeter Harriers).


The England team for Varazdin is: Men – 200m: Doyley. 1500m: Coltherd, Chris Warburton (Notts AC). 110m hurdles: Sharman. 400m hurdles: Bradley Yiend (Birchfield). High jump: Oni. Triple jump: Julian Golley (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow). Shot: Kelly. Javelin: Neil McLellan (Stevenage and North Herts). Women – 100m: Turner. 200m: Barr. 1500m: Fullerton, Thompson. 400m hurdles: Nusrat Ceesay (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies). High jump: Hubbard. Pole vault: Harrison. Long jump: Sarah Wellstead (Sutton and District). Shot: Peake. Javelin: Laura Whittingham (Sale).


As Yiend, Golley, Kelly, Fullerton, Peake and Whittingham are current UK Challenge leaders in their events, there are obvious opportunities for League competitors to bid for personal prizes as well as club points.


Manchester, aiming for their third successive BAL win of the season, hope to have teenager Alex Nelson sprinting the 100m, Rob Mitchell back from injury in the high jump and 7.40m long jumper Nick Newman back from university in the USA.


Birchfield, determined to make home advantage count, have the reigning UK Challenge high jump champion Tom Parsons fresh from his PB of 2.28m at the same venue at the Midland Championships a fortnight ago.


Shaftesbury will look to 110m hurdler Allan Scott plus their higher claim athletes, England Junior 100m champion Leevan Yearwood, high jumper Nik Stanislajevic and new national 10,000m champion Phil Nicholls, who is due to line-up against Farah in the 1500m.


The UKWL Division One match will be without the star of the Manchester competition, Jessica Ennis, who is in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the European Cup Combined Events Super League in Poland. Her club, Trafford, can call on Susan Moncrieff, high jump winner at last weekend’s JumpsFest, and Kara Nwidobie, who took part in the highest-quality discus competition for years.


Manchester call on Sara McGreavy in the 100m hurdles, Steph Pywell and Adele Lassu in the high jump while heptathlete Katia Lannon hopes to be back from injury.


Birchfield call on age group internationals Jade Surman and Amy Harris plus experienced athletes such as triple jump duo Tiombe Hurd and Debbie Rowe.


To check who’s where in the UK Challenge standings ahead of this busy winter, visit




The Carnegie Grand Prix of Race Walking is an EAA Race Walking Permit Meeting and will offer the British athletes to take on some quality foreign opposition from Greece, Turkey, Slovakia, Ireland, Cyprus and Australia.


The main event will be the International 20km for men and women (5.30pm start), the last opportunity for athletes to qualify for the IAAF World Championships that will be staged in Osaka. The favourite will be Balkan champion Recep Celik (Turkey), seeking to make up for being disqualified at the European Cup Race Walking at Leamington Spa in May.


The current top male in the UK Challenge rankings Ben Wears (Redcar RWC) will be missing as he prepares to compete for the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team in the World Youth Championships in Ostrava. The home challenge will be led by Daniel King (Colchester Harriers) who will be looking to build on his second place in the recent EAA Permit Meeting in Dublin and attack his personal best of 1:27:51 set in 2004. His twin brother Dominic King (Colchester Harriers) will also be aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on making the British team for Leamington Spa.


The hot favourite for the women’s race will be Athina Papagianni (Greece), who has a personal best of 1:28:58 from 2004, when she finished 10th in the Olympic Games on home soil. She was also 6th at the last IAAF World Championships in Helsinki.


In the absence of the current Race Walking Challenege overall leader Jo Jackson (Redcar RWC) who is concentrating on the European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen next week, the home challenge will be led by 2002 Commonwealth silver medallist Lisa Kehler (Wolverhampton and Bilston), who will be comepting around the campus where she studied for her Masters Degree. She has recently returned to the international stage after giving birth to her fourth chilld.


The British race walking squad have been regular visitors to Carnegie over the winter for a number of training camps. The athletes have received expert advice and assistance from a number of staff in areas such as biomechanics and strength and conditioning.



The programme includes a number of supporting events for walkers of all ages and abilities:


3.30pm: Under 11 1 lap Challenge

4.00pm: Under 15 2.5km

4.30pm: Open 5km

5.00pm:  International Junior 5km

5.30pm: International 20km