Double champions and best performances in Sheffield

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Jeremiah Azu on his way to win the 200m at the Age Group Championships 2019. Photo: Melissa Gresswell.

There’s no doubt that the England Athletics Indoor Age Group Championships has been a stepping stone to greater things and a pinnacle event in many athletes’ junior careers. It’s hard to believe that it was only in 2014 that British record holder Dina Asha-Smith set up her blocks in the U20 Women’s 200m and still holds the record to this day.

The event promised top-class talent who have already shone brightly this indoor season, and the championships certainly didn’t produce anything less than excellence.

There seemed to be something in the water in Sheffield, as championship bests after championship bests were hunted down and new bars were set, putting 2019 firmly in the record books.

In the U15 Girls alone, we saw Success Eduan live up to her name as she smashed an 18-year best time, clocking 24.72 in the 200m final. Trezeguet Taylor kept her cool in the final and outsprinted a top field to take the 60m title in 7.61. It was Mia McIntosh’s turn for gold in the 60m hurdles, as she produced a best time of 8.77 to take the crown.

In the longer sprints, Vale of Aylesbury’s Emilia Rock, fought hard in the closing 50m to break yet another CBP by a staggering two seconds with 39.74 in the 300m final. All three medallists in this final in fact dipped under the previous best time, showing the true calibre of athletes present at the championships this year.

Katie Johnson of Edinburgh AC cranked up the pressure in the U15 800m, she tracked long-time leader Ruby Simpson, to power down the back straight, crossing the line to the tune of 2:10.90, a Scottish U15 best time.

The U15 Boys events certainly weren’t lacking in prowess either. Sammy Ball had a very busy afternoon indeed as he finished in third in the shot put with a throw of 11.47, to then 1 minute later run down to the long jump and produce a leap of 5.99 in the sixth round to take the gold.

The U17 Men’s events saw 14-year-old Mario Dobrescu smash his personal best with 48.91 to win the 400m, a time which would have seen him win the U20 Men’s event quite comfortably. Henry Nwoke impressed in both the 60m and 200m as he took the crown in both events with 6.91 and 21.85 respectively.

In the U17 Women’s events, Lucy Jane Matthews dipped when she really needed to, to take gold in the 60m hurdles in a lifetime best of 8.48. Kaliyah Young also had a very busy championships, as she competed in the long jump and 60m on day 1. The next day she was back and stole the show and the gold medal in the 200m in 24.67. Like we said, there was definitely something in the water…

The U20 Women’s records were also at risk, as England Outdoor Champion and forth place at the British Championships, Lucy Hadaway was in the field for the long jump. She produced a jump of 6.31, just shy of her lifetime best and breaking Katrina Johnson-Thompson’s championship record in the process.

Emily Thompson went the distance in the 1500m final and showcased a superb demonstration of front running. Her reward was of course gold and a new record of 4:26.09. The previous record had stood for 23 years.

U17 winner last year, Serena Vincent improved each round in the U20 Shot put final and produced a PR of 14.83, putting her 11th on the all-time rankings.

The 400m wasn’t short of action either. It looked to be Emma Alderson who had the title in the bag but a late surge from Ella Turner saw her speed past her competition to win in over 1 second with a new PR of 54.22.

The U20 Men’s 400m was equally enthralling. Michael Fagbenie had plenty of support from the stands as he flew past his competition in the very last metres of the race, dipping when he needed to in a time of 49.25.

More stunning front running came from Yusuf Bizimana in the 800m final. It was pretty much a time trial, as he speeded to 1:52.19.

Out on the field, all eyes were on the high jump, not because of Dominic Ogbechie, he was on the long jump runway, but this time Toni Ademuwagun. His previous best going into the championships was 2.07, and when he cleared 2.09 the crowd erupted. He then went on to clear 2.09, followed by some pretty funky celebrations on the high jump mat. He reached for 2.11 but it wasn’t meant to be.

Ogbechie on the other hand produced an impressive PR of 7.59 in the first round of the long jump. He went 1cm further later in the competition and took the gold.

Jeremiah Azu stole the show in the short sprints, speeding to a PR of 21.25 in the 200m and 6.73 in the 60, to take the double gold.