England South victorious in Welsh U20 International

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England South took a narrow victory in the annual Welsh U20 International meeting in Cardiff after their men’s 4x400m team won by the smallest of margins under the floodlights. It was impossible to see who’d won as both runners threw themselves over the line but the Southern team was given it by one thousandth of a second following a photo finish.

The event pits together the winners of the various U20 area championships around England – South, Midlands and North – against a selected Welsh team, and this year’s competition featured several GB Junior and Youth stars, including the new UK U20 hammer record holder Taylor Campbell, Welsh 100m record holder and recent World Youth finalist Hannah Brier and European Junior champion pole vault Adam Hague. And they didn’t disappoint with Campbell and Brier setting new meeting records of 74.10m and 23.85m respectively. Hague also won the men’s pole vault convincingly.

Welsh superstar Adele Nicoll, who now competes for Birchfield Harriers, also continued her run of great form with a throw of 15.25m in the shot, and her club mate Julia Cooke joined her in setting a new meeting and Welsh record of 4.53.57 in the women’s mile.

And it was the Welsh team who made the early running before the lead changed hands several times. But the South started to stamp their dominance in the event as they recorded a succession of victories both on the track and in the field. William Markland notched a win in the javelin (54.14M) for the south, as did Joseph O’Hara, with a late surge in the 800m. The Midlands had winners of their own with Katie Lambert recording a fine 50.77m in the hammer and European Junior silver medalist Elliott Powell in the men’s 200m. Their ladies also won the 4x100m to back up the men’s 4x400m victory.

England North took the first field medal of the day thanks to pole vaulter Abigail Roberts, and gold medals followed from Kevin Metzger in the triple jump, with a leap of 14.23m, and Lee Thompson in the 400m.

As the evening wore on and the temperature dropped to almost freezing, it was difficult to see who the winner would be as all four teams kept picking up regular podium places. But England North began to fall away from the other two English teams, particularly once their men’s quartet failed to get the baton round in the 4x100m leaving the Midlands to power to first place.

It was left to the one lap relays to decide the outcome and it was England North who struck first as their women’s team claimed the first spot, although final leg runner Ella Barrett was pushed hard coming down the home straight. Their men led at the first changeover in their race too but the strength of the South and Midlands teams proved too strong and it was the South’s narrow victory courtesy of England U20 champion and European Junior finalist Freddie Owsley’s dip that proved decisive.

For full results, please see www.welshathletics.org