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Stephens and Bushell top performers in Blackpool

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Nathan Stephens and Mickey Bushell (Birchfield Harriers) were among the young British athletes in impressive form at the National Junior Athletics Championships, organised by Disability Sport Events (DSE) on 24 and 25 June in Blackpool.

Eighteen-year-old Stephens was among the older athletes at the Championships to produce good performances. Stephens from Bridgend followed up his hat-trick of titles at the British Open Athletics Championships in Manchester a fortnight ago with three more titles, each of them in DSE national junior records.

First he took the under-20 javelin title with a throw of 30.65m in the event in Blackpool. He followed that up with another DSE national junior record of 11.73m to win the group 5b under-20 shot. That was a particularly impressive performance as he added 44cm to his title-winning throw at the British Open and also achieved the qualification standard for the 2006 World Championships in Holland. Stephens rounded off his campaign by winning the group 5b under-20 discus with a throw of 29.59m.

Bushell, meanwhile, was in impressive form on the track, collecting titles at 100m, 200m and 400m, each of them in DSE national junior records. The 16-year-old from Birmingham won the group 4 under-17 100m title in 16.6 seconds – just 0.07 seconds outside his winning time at the British Open two weeks ago. 
He also took the group 4 under-17 400m title, clocking a time of 1:08.2 and then completed the set with a group 4 200m title at under-17 level in another DSE junior record of 32.8 seconds.

North West athlete Dean Miller achieved a World Championship qualifying standard for the 800m, winning the group 9 under-20 title in a time of 2:19.2, a DSE national junior record. He also went on to win the 1500m title in 4:44.0, also in a record.
Another North West athlete, Ian Jones, performed well to win the group 9 under-17 events at 100m in 12.4 seconds and the 200m in a DSE national junior record of 24.7 seconds.

Young British sprinter Tom Wilson also impressed, winning the group 6 under-20 100m title in 14.3 seconds and taking the group 6 under-20 title over 200m in 29.6 seconds. Both were DSE national junior records for the East Midlands athlete.
Sixteen-year-old sprinter Katrina Hart, who won bronze in T37 100m at last year’s European Open Athletics Championships in Finland, as the youngest member of the British team aged just 15, collected a brace of titles in Blackpool.

Representing the West Midlands, she won the group 10 under-17 100m title in a time of 15.6 seconds and then added the group 10 under-17 200m title in 32.8 seconds in Blackpool. 

Sixteen-year-old Cambridge athlete Thomas Digney, representing the Eastern region, won the group 8 under-20 shot with a throw of 9.38m, then added the group 8 under-20 javelin title with a throw of 21.53m. 

Athens 2004 Paralympian Steven Leigh collected a brace of titles representing the North West. He won the group 10 under-20 400m in 58.1 seconds and then the group 10 under-20 200m title in 27.1 seconds.

Kathryn Periac, UK Athletics Disability Performance Manager, said: “The championships were a wonderful event, and thanks go to Disability Sport Events, its regional managers and the schools who brought athletes along.

“There were many records and outstanding performances by younger athletes, which is a terrific sign for London 2012 and beyond and also some good performances by some of the older athletes who are approaching World Championships level.”

Amongst the GB Juniors aiming for this summer’s World Junior Championships in Beijing, Alex Smith (Hull Achilles) threw a personal best by over 2 metres in Hungary over the weekend, his throw 73.81m secured third place in the competition. Amir Williamson (Blackheath & Bromley) threw 64.89m, both athletes have been named in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the Mannheim International.