Birmingham’s NIA hosts two days of exciting age group athletics action with Dina Asher-Smith and Morgan Lake among those to claim multiple titles
With some of the stars of last year’s event such as Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jodie Williams and Adam Gemili having moved up into the senior ranks, age group athletes from across the country were ready to steal the spotlight at the NIA in Birmingham this weekend.
Fans weren’t disappointed either, being treated to seven meeting records as well as one UK best performance across two days of England Athletics Under 20, 17 and 15 Indoor Championships action.
Storming to two of those championship best performances was Blackheath & Bromley AC’s Dina Asher-Smith. Great things were expected from the 17-year-old, who did the double with her victory in both the under 20 60m and 200m, but the sprinter admitted she had surprised even herself with the fast times she’d posted.
Speaking after securing success in the 200m on Sunday, Asher-Smith, who crossed the line in 23.44 to smash the record set eight years ago and jump to second on the UK indoor under 20 all-time list, said: “I did not even consider that I could run 23.44.”
Her 7.34 meeting record secured in the 60m heats on Saturday was followed up by 7.36 in the final and she added: “I am absolutely over the moon. This weekend has been amazing.”
It was a successful weekend all round for the training group of Asher-Smith’s coach, John Blackie. Shannon Hylton set a meeting record in the under 17 60m, crossing the line in 7.50, also winning the 200m in 24.08, while twin sister Cheriece won the 300m, her 38.69 the third fastest time ever indoors. There was also silver for Rachel Dickens in the under 20 400m.
Although Clovis Asong’s 47.45 in the under 20 400m final wasn’t quite a meeting record, it was enough to secure him the gold in a tight and thrilling race, with the Sale Harrier storming to the fastest indoor time by a British junior since 2002.
Crossing the line in 47.56, Liverpool Harriers & AC sprinter Alex Boyce was narrowly nudged into second, with Asong admitting the rival runner was always in his sights.
“I feel pretty happy right now. I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting a good time but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite that quick.
“Coming into the race I knew that Alex Boyce was going to be my main rival. I had him in sight so thought I’d better get off quick because I knew he’d be coming for me. I got off quick but he got to the 200m mark before I did, so I stuck with it, ran my own race then managed to pull it back at the end.”
Windsor Slough & Eton’s Morgan Lake continued to impress on day two, completing her ‘double double’. The national under 17 heptathlete champion added victory in the under 17 high jump to the long jump title she picked up on Saturday, meaning she now holds both titles both indoors and outdoors.
An under 15 boys 300m race was added to the program for 2013, with Owen Richardson of Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC taking the opportunity to become the first athlete to win the title, clocking a UK best performance as well as laying down a decent championship best for the 2014 competition with a time of 36.87.
Yasmin Miller broke Serita Solomon’s six-year-old under 20 60m hurdles meeting record with victory in the final on Sunday. The Derby AC athlete took gold in 8.26, just 0.04 off the UK Best record set in 1986.
Further meeting records came for Loren Bleaken in the under 20 800m, the Team Bath AC runner posting 02:06.78, Bristol & West AC’s Lucy Bryan who jumped 4.15m in the under 20 pole vault to demolish Katie Byres’ record of 4.01m set in 2010, and Sophie McKinna, the Great Yarmouth & District AC athlete recording 15.90m in the under 20 shot.
» Find a full report from the England Athletics Under 20, 17 and 15 Indoor Championships in the next edition of AW, out Thursday Feb 28