Some of Britain’s best young track and field talent including Morgan Lake, Shannon Hylton, Alicia Barrett, Adam Hague and Reuben Arthur are expected to feature at the England Athletics under-20 and under-23 Championships in Bedford this weekend.
Places at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Finland, European Athletics under-18 Championships in Hungary and even the senior European Championships in Berlin will be up for grabs, with many having already attained qualifying standards.
We are hoping to see Commonwealth silver medalist Morgan Lake and fellow Gold Coast athlete Tom Gale in the under-23 high jump competitions. Morgan has managed the 1.90m needed to make it to Berlin and Tom is six centimetres off the required 2.26 but stands a good chance having cleared 2.30 to win UK Inter-Counties gold last summer.
In the under-20 competition, there’s the prospect of seeing the man who set a new world age best for a 15-year-old in February (above). It’ll be interesting to see how close Domenic Ogbechie, now 16, can get to that incredible leap over 2.22 in Sheffield.
A rivalry to wet the appetite sees two pole vaulters who both have the European qualifying mark of 5.55m battle it out. Adam Hague – fourth on the Gold Coast – and Charlie Myers will be joined by Harry Coppell, who cleared 5.40 last weekend in Switzerland.
Divine Oladipo also has the distance she needs to make it to Germany in the shot put and looks set for her first competition on UK soil this year, having progressed well and thrown as far as 17.37 in the United States. Other field stars involved include Commonwealth finalist Taylor Campbell and British triple jump champion Naomi Ogbeta.
In the men’s 100m, Commonwealth relay winner Reuben Arthur (PB: 10.18) is entered along with Kyle De Escofet and Oliver Bromby, who are European under-23 silver and European under-20 bronze medalists respectively. Tommy Ramdhan – the 2015 junior champion across the continent – is fresh from a big 200m lifetime best of 20.59 in Geneva last weekend (below).
On the women’s side, the senior British champion Shannon Hylton is down for both sprints and could face competition from the likes of Imani-Lara Lansiquot and Hannah Brier. The same goes for the sprint hurdles which feature another London 2017 athlete Alicia Barrett, along with the national indoor gold medalists from the last two years; Megan Marrs and Mollie Courtney.
Romell Glave got one of the biggest cheers from the crowd inside the Bedford International Athletics Stadium last year as he stormed to an under-20 sprint double in 10.21 and 20.95.
He’ll be trying to defend his title over the shorter distance, with Charlie Dobson – who has run an incredible 20.73 this year – one of the favourites over the half lap. The same can be said of 17-year-old British senior indoor bronze medalist Amber Anning, who has managed a clocking of 23.76.
Moving up to the 400m, thre are some exceptional fields with World Indoor relay medalist Hannah Williams up against Cheriece Hylton, Sabrina Bakare, Lily Beckford and Kelsey Stewart. The men’s competition includes World Indoor semi-finalist Lee Thompson, along with Sam Hazel, Ben Claridge and Owen Richardson.
Just as tough to call is the under-20 women’s 800m. The brilliant 2016 European Youth Champion Isabelle Boffey, who has won four consecutive national age group indoor titles in a row, will be trying to defend her outdoor title against a host of talented rivals. One is European under-20 champion Khahisa Mhlanga, who was runner-up in 2017 (above).
Another is Katy-Ann McDonald, who set a new 2:05.07 competition record to beat Boffey at national under-17 level two years ago. There is also Anna Burt, who pipped Isabelle to a Commonwealth Youth Games medal last summer.
That event in the Bahamas saw Holly Mills win long jump gold. At the indoor equivalent of this weekend in Sheffield in February, she, Lucy Hadaway, Eleanor Broome and Niamh Emerson treated us to a sensational competition. Mills took the title with her last jump (below) and faces the same rivals here.