World standards being chased at England Athletics Championships

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Naomi Ogbeta at the 2018 Athletics World Cup. Morris Fox / MV4R Photography

Established internationals will line up alongside young stars returning from European competition this weekend, as Manchester hosts the England Athletics Senior Championships.

The event is combined with the historic Amateur Athletic Association Championships (AAAs), as well as the UK Inter-Counties. This means that athletes entered by their County Association are able to compete for further medals, while being English is not a requirement to compete.

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A number of entrants are chasing qualifying standards for this autumn’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha. 2006 European silver medallist Nathan Douglas is 7cm away from 16.95m in the triple jump this year, while on the women’s side, UK under-23 record holder Naomi Ogbeta is 15 away from 14.20m.

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Sophie Mckinna (above) already has the 18m shot put qualifying standard and goes up against British champion Amelia Strickler, who with a new best of 17.83m, is close.

There is a rare outing on UK soil for European indoor silver medallist Tim Duckworth (below). The decathlete is on the entry list for the high jump, shot put, pole vault and 110m hurdles.

Recent World University Games winner Jess Judd has entered the 800m and 1500m, where she may be looking for the 4:06.50 Doha qualifying time, although the London 2017 semi-finalist has recently obtained the golden clocking needed with a big personal best over 5000m.

There should be a great battle over 100m hurdles with Commonwealth finalist Alicia Barrett involved, along with 2016 and 2017 British indoor champions Mollie Courtney and Megan Marrs, while Jess Hunter is the defending champion and Holly Mills has taken a second off her personal best. Similarly over the 400m hurdles, world 4x400m medallist Kirsten McAslan faces London 2017 competitor Jess Turner and training partners Chris McAlister and Jacob Paul do battle.

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Over the sprints, Kimbely Baptiste has won either 100m or 200m gold in each of the last three years at these championships, and she is set to face world junior finalist Hannah Brier, who just missed out on a medal in the 4x100m at the European U23 Championships in Sweden. Also part of that quartet was Scottish 200m champion Alisha Rees, who is down for her favoured event.

In the men’s equivalent, world junior runner-up Charlie Dobson is likely to take part, as are last year’s double-medallists Andrew Robertson and Edmond Amaning. Robertson had the better of Amaning in the 100m, but the Thames Valley Harrier turned the tables over the half-lap distance in an entertaining duel.

England Athletics always provide a full programme of Paralympic events, with ambulant and wheelchair competitions joined by Race Running for the second year in a row, with Brits looking for World Championships qualifying standards. Paralympic gold medallist and three-time world champion Kadeena Cox (below) is down for a sprint double alongside four-time European medallist Laura Sugar. Another headline name is world and European long jump champion Stef Reid, while young athletes will be using the event as a warm-up for the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Switzerland.

In the pole vault, Harry Coppell’s recent 5.61m clearance puts him 10cm off the world standard. Joel Leon Benitez is also expected after coming back from the Europeans, as are respective discus and long jump champions George Armstrong and Reynold Banigo.

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An interesting battle awaits in the long jump, with Abigail Irozuru, Holly Mills and Alice Hopkins vying for medals. Irozuru has jumped 6.59m in 2019, with 6.72m being the world standard, while rising youngsters Mills and Hopkins jumped 6.51m on their way to England age group titles last month.

Mills, a former European and Commonwealth Youth champion, finished fourth in the European U20 Championships in only her second ever heptathlon, before claiming bronze in the long jump. Other field eventers of note include Scotland’s Kirsty Law in the discus, David Smith and Nikki Manson in the high jump. All three competed at the European Championships in Berlin last August.

All three of the Isle of Man’s Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games representatives are included, with Erika Kelly in the race walk, Joe Reid in the 800m, and Joe Harris in the javelin. Full entry lists and a timetable can be found here.