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UK Athletics

Ennis equals UK high jump record

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Jessica Ennis - joint UK high jump record holder

Reigning European Junior Champions Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield AC) and Craig Pickering (University of Bath / Marshall Milton Keynes AC) made great impacts among the senior ranks as the new track and field season sprang into life on Saturday 5 May.


Ennis equalled the 25-year-old UK senior women’s high jump record of 1.95m while BUSA Championships records fell to Pickering, Chris Kirk (Northumbria University / City of Sheffield AC) and Zoe Derham (Gloucester University / Birchfield Harriers).


Ennis, expected by many to be a key member of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at this summer’s European Cup of Combined Events, ended the first day leading the heptathlon section of the IAAF combined events international in Desenzano, Italy, with 3,959 points, 372 ahead of her nearest rival, experienced French international Maria Collonville.


The Sheffield University student made a great start to her first heptathlon of 2007, winning her 100m hurdles heat in a lifetime best of 13.12 seconds aided by the mildest of wind speeds, +0.2 metres per second.


And then she cleared 1.95m at the second attempt to equal the record first leapt by Diana Davies (Leicester Coritanian) in 1982 and equalled by Susan Moncrieff (Trafford AC) in 2001. This after Ennis had popped over 1.92m, also a PB, at the first attempt.


Rain fell as she reached a moderate 12.13m in the shot. Despite the storm leaving the track saturated, she sped to another victory in the 200m (wind: +0.6 metres per second) in 23.68 seconds, the second-quickest of her career so far.


Her total of 3,959 points is her best first-day total by 98 points.


Several of her colleagues from the UK Combined Events Squad also enjoyed successes.

Dominique Blaize (Kingston & Poly) was fifth overnight with 3488, her best first-day points total by 64. She sprinted the 100m hurdles (wind: +0.7) in 14.32 seconds; high jumped 1.77m, a heptathlon best; put the shot 12.32m and sprinted 200 (wind: +1.3) in another PB of 24.52.


Phyllis Agbo (Thames Valley Harriers), 11th with 3335 points, clocked a 100m hurdles PB of 13.86 (wind: +0.7), high jumped 1.65m, put the shot 12.06m and sprinted 200m in 25.11 (wind: +1.3). It was her best first day by 17 points.


National Indoor pentathlon champion Katia Lannon (Sale Harriers Manchester) improved her best first-day score by 41 points to 3284. She opened with a 100m hurdles PB of 14.27 (wind: +0.7), high jumped 1.71m, put the shot a PB of 11.62m, and sprinted 200m (into a slight head wind of -0.3) in 25.52.


Gemma Weetman (Oswestry Olympians) was 23rd overnight with 3023 points from a 14.69 seconds 100m hurdles (wind: +0.7), 1.62m high jump, 10.57m shot and 25.81 seconds 200m (wind: +1.2).


In the Men’s decathlon…


Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) was ninth at the halfway stage with 3798 points, which amazingly equals his best-yet first day score. He sprinted the 100m in 11.38 seconds (wind: +1.3), long jumped a PB 7.09m (wind: +0.6), put the shot 12.02m, high jumped 1.97m in the rain and ran 400m in 50.30 seconds.


Ben Hazell (Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC) was 12th with 3761 points from a 100m in 11.38, long jump PB of 6.96m (wind: +0.9), shot of 13.56m, high jump of 1.82m and 400m in 49.59 seconds.


Dean Showler-Davies (Winchester and District AC) lay 16th with 3652 points (11.06 / wind: +1.3, 6.87 / wind: +0.1, 11.34, 1.85, 50.63).


Meanwhile the first day of the BUSA Championships at Bedford was electrified by Pickering retaining the 100m title in 10.29 seconds, within seven-hundredths of the PB he ran at the 2005 Loughborough International. Demonstrating how much he benefited from his indoor campaign – which climaxed with him earning the 60m silver medal at the European Indoor Championships at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena – he reacted to the starter’s gun so instantly that the title was effectively won in the first half dozen strides.


Two factors make the time even more impressive: he did not trim his heavy workload under the guidance of coach Malcolm Arnold in the days leading up to this, his first competitive outing of the summer; and the wind speed of +0.5 metres per second hardly helped.


Equally amazing was Kirk’s Championships record of 7.82m in the long jump – an 18cm improvement on his PB, which had stood since 2003 while he fought a seemingly endless series of injury setbacks.


Derham’s hammer record of 66.54m suggests she is ready to battle with Shirley Webb (Trafford AC) for the title of successor to UK record holder Lorraine Shaw, who now advises her.


Among other first day BUSA highlights… Lauren Therin (UWIC / Channel Islands AC) launched the javelin a PB of 52.09m and pinged two more efforts beyond 50m in an impressive series; Montell Douglas (Brunel University / Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) won the women’s 100m in 11.64 seconds, just a hundredth ahead of the fast-finishing Kadi-Ann Thomas (also Brunel), vivacious proof that much more than Pickering has emerged from the MK squad coached by Mike Leonard!