Adam Gemili and Jodie Williams among those victorious on day one of the England Athletics U20 and U23 Champs and European Trials
After famously being beaten in a 100m race by confused.com’s mascot, Brian the robot, at Lee Valley earlier this month, London Olympian Adam Gemili showed his human rivals a clean pair of heels at the England Athletics Under-20 and Under-23 Championships and European Trials in Bedford.
The 19-year-old benefitted from a strong backwind (+2.3) to clock a CBP of 10.09, a time within four hundreths of his personal best, set when he won the world junior title last year.
The Blackheath and Bromley athlete showed he is a good bet for gold at next month’s European Under-23 Championships in Finland, winning by almost three tenths from Croydon’s Samuel Owesa (10.38) and Enfield and Haringey’s Ade Adewale (10.43).
“It is a shame the wind was over the limit, but I am pleased with the time. The under-23s are my main focus this year, so it was important to come out and show good form today,” revealed the level-headed teenager.
Jodie Williams was another big name to cement her selection for Finland. The 19-year-old admits that sustaining an injury and subsequently missing out on the Olympics last year hit her hard mentally, but the Herts Phoneix athlete showed that she has bounced back from the disappointment and with a refreshed outlook on the sport, is steadily regaining top form.
Albeit with a strong following wind (+3.5), Williams clocked a fast 11.23 to come within six hundreths of her fastest ever time.
“It has been a weird start to the season for me, but I am just taking each race as it comes. I am physically in good shape now, but I just need to regain that race fitness. Athletics is so much down to mental strength, but today was a step in the right direction,” explained Williams.
Dina Asher-Smith (Blackheath and Bromley) came out on top in a highly anticipated head-to-head with world junior finalist Sophie Papps (WSEH) in the under-20 100m and secure her spot for the European Juniors in Rieti, clocking 11.32 to Papp’s 11.47.
Newly crowned NCAA long jump champion Lorraine Ugen showed no signs of tiredness when winning the under-23 event with 6.31m, despite only having returned from a long collegiate season in the US on Tuesday. Isobel Pooley (AFD) was another favourite to live up to expectation, winning the under-23 high jump with 1.87m, well clear of her nearest challenger.
Zane Duquemin (Jersey) went one better than his silver in the under-23 discus last year, taking the title with 60.56m. This marked part one in his mission to ‘do the double’, as he will return tomorrow as a strong favourite to retain his shot put title.
There was little surprise in the under-20 women’s shot put, as fresh from her UK junior record last month, Sophie McKinna successfully defended her title with 16.36m to win by over two metres.
Having been disappointed to end a highly successful collegiate season with a fall in the NCAA steeplechase final, Zak Seddon showed his form by outsprinting Jonathan Davies in the under-20 5000m. Adam Clarke (AFD) won the under-23 equivalent and his first national title, after making a brave launch for home 600m out.
Elsewhere, Hayley McLean laid down the gauntlet as the fastest qualifier for the under-20 400m hurdles final tomorrow, where she will be determined to make amends for her disqualification last year, while in-form Niall Flannery will go head-to-head with London Olympian Jack Green in the under-23 event.
Both the 800m and 1500m for the under-20 men are poised to go down to the wire, with a handful of athletes already in possession of the qualifying marks for Rieti.
» You can find results for day one here