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UK Athletics

Eden Francis spins out a UK Junior record

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3 September 2007.


Eden Francis (Leicester Coritanian AC) ended her spectacular summer in sensational fashion by setting a UK Junior discus record at the SEAA Home Countries Under 20s’ International at Copthall Barnet, North London, on Sunday 2 September.


She defied a painful bout of sciatica to throw 55.26 metres, 23cm further than the previous record set by Claire Smithson (Brighton and Hove AC) in 2002. It came almost out of the blue in a series that included four no-throws at the end of a long hard season. The only counting throws went out to a modest 38.16m in the second round and 55.28m in the fourth round. It was a personal best by a massive 1.24 metres.


Francis then went on to win the shot (14.76m), the event in which she made history for the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the European Junior Championships in Hengelo, Netherlands, in July. Her fifth place finish was the highest ever achieved by a GB female in this event at European Junior Championships. And her season’s best of 15.82m has hoisted her to third in the UK Junior Women’s all-time rankings.


The new discus record-holder did not know whether to laugh or cry about her latest achievement.


She explained: “I’ve been struggling with my back for the last two weeks. I’ve got slight sciatica and I only went to Copthall to get the points for the Midlands. On my first two throws, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t really throw. But then I just thought, ‘Forget it and throw!’


“I’m off to see the doctor now. I’ve got the National Junior League Final at Derby next Sunday but I doubt I shall be fit.”


Other members of the Norwich Union GB&NI Junior Team finished their season on a high at Copthall…


Callum Priestley, a training mate of Eden’s in her mum Glenys Morton’s varied training group, won the 110m hurdles in 14.15 seconds at the end of a season in which he has lowered his PB by almost a full second to 14.08 and earned his international debut in Hengelo.


World Youths quarter finalist Olufunmi Sobodu (Blackheath and Bromley) won the 100m in 10.80 seconds.


His clubmate James Alaka, a European Juniors 100m semi-finalist, won the 200m in 22.05 seconds into a 0.8 head wind.


Alan Mckie (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC) followed his Hengelo experience by improving his lifetime best to 2.20m for another victory for the South.


The hammer was basically a contest between the training mates who reached the European Juniors final, Alex Smith (Sale Harriers Manchester), who threw 69.27m, and James Bedford (Kingston-upon-Hull AC), who reached 68.51m.


Brett Morse (Cardiff AAC), another European Championships finalist, won the discus with 56.47m and was 1st B in the shot with 15.60m.


Anike Shand-Whittingham (Blackheath and Bromley), who anchored Norwich Union GB&NI to the 4x100m gold medals in Hengelo, won both the 100m in 11.73 seconds and the 200m in 24.47.


Meghan Beesley, the versatile Tamworth athlete who was a 4x400m silver medallist in Hengelo, cut down on the distances and was second to Shand-Whittingham in the 100m (11.79) and also second in the 100m hurdles in 14.37 behind World Youths semi-finalist Ashley Helsby (Liverpool Harriers), who clocked 14.09.


Another member of the World Youths squad, Under 17 Sophie Hitchon (Pendle AC) ended her excellent season with victory in the hammer with 54.26m, within 30cm of her best,


And a star of this summer’s UK Challenge ThrowsFest, Jade Dodd (Herne Hill Harriers) increased her javelin best by 2.82m to 52.34m for an emphatic victory. It means she is 8m clear of her closest rival at the top of the Power of 10 rankings for this summer.