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UK Challenge JumpsFest – report, results

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Julie Hollman - up for the Cup
Julie Hollman: up for the Cup

Despite atrocious weather, there were some superb performances at the UK Challenge JumpsFest at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, on Saturday 30 June.

 

‘Soaking Saturday’ became ‘Soaring Saturday’ in the chase for UK Athletics’ £10,000 prize pot as 18 competitors defied the rain to set lifetime bests, 37 produced season’s bests and …

 

Julie Hollman (Belgrave Harriers) warmed-up for next weekend’s European Cup Combined Events Super League by winning the women’s long jump with 6.26m;

 

Gillian Kerr (Edinburgh AC) reclaimed the Scottish National triple jump record with a leap of 13.25m (wind: +1.8) and then went out to 13.42m (wind: +3.1) to take second place in the match to Nadia Williams (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), who endured the nightmare of three no jumps to reach 13.47m (wind: +3.1) and 12.59m (+1.7);

 

Kirsty Maguire (also Edinburgh AC) won the women’s pole vault at 3.95m in a competition in which 15-year-old Jade Ive (Sutton and District) became the youngest ever CAU UK Inter-Counties Champion by clearing 3.70m. Ironically, the Inter-Counties event was postponed at Bedford last month because of heavy rain and high winds, yet had to be moved indoors today to escape more punishing weather;

 

Older brother Joe Ive (Belgrave) celebrated selection for the European Under 23 Championships by winning the pole vault with a first time clearance at 5.15m – and runner-up Mark Christie (Sale Harriers Manchester) escaped with nothing more serious than a bruised chest when his hands slipped down his pole as he took off, sending him sprawling;

 

Samson Oni (Belgrave) cleared 2.25m to win the men’s high jump from England Under 23 Champion Adam Scarr (Enfield and Haringey), who continued his fine form by clearing 2.22m. Oni went on to fail narrowly at the World Championships entry standard of 2.30m. As he collected the winner’s cheque of £200 plus his Heidsieck & Co Monopole Champagne, he said: “I’m going to store this bottle until the end of the season. Hopefully it will help me celebrate the fact that I have been to the World Championships. I equalled my outdoors PB today even though my legs are sore and my body tired because I competed in Denmark yesterday. It’s all part of my preparation to jump twice in two days, hopefully, in Osaka.”

 

Susan Moncrieff (Trafford AC) won the women’s high jump 1.84m – a competition that probably suffered most in quality from the disruption of being suddenly moved indoors;

 

Ryan James (Birchfield Harriers) proved he is finally over a knee injury that has troubled him for more than a year by registering PBs of 7.51m (wind: -0.7) and 7.53m (wind: +0.2) to win a thrilling elite long jump competition on countback from clubmate Leigh Smith with last weekend’s European Cup representative Chris Kirk (Newham and Essex Beagles) third on 7.44m, 2cm further than he reached in the heat of Cup battle in Munich;

 

Julian Golley (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) – as enthusiastic now as when he won the Commonwealth triple jump title in 1994 – came up with a season’s best of 16.22m to win a great battle against Tosin Oke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), who was second with 16.10m, and Elliot O’Neill (UWIC), who was third with the longest jump of his life, 16.07m.

 

O’Neill’s emotions changed faster than the weather after his heroics in the sixth and final round. He was euphoric when the landmark distance was announced: his first 16m-plus leap, a qualifier for the European Under 23 Championships with his very last opportunity before the selectors meet next week to finalise the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team … “It’s been my ambition all season to get to the Europeans … I can’t believe it,” he said. “I’ll just go and find the wind speed.” Then came the devastating news: +3.7 metres per second! “I cannot believe it,” he added. “It only felt reasonable. I’m gutted. Funnily enough, the wind gauge didn’t work for the first four rounds.”

 

Golley paid this tribute to O’Neill: “He forgot about the conditions. He pumped every round. He did very well.”

 

Even after such a massive disappointment, O’Neill found good words to say about the Fest: “It’s been a good day. I’ve enjoyed it … Will I still get to the Europeans?”

 

Only the selectors know the answer to that one – just as only the Fest organisers know how the meeting stayed on course after the fiercest of the storm flooded run-ups and landing areas only an hour into the seven-hour extravaganza.

 

All high jumps and the women’s pole vaults were hastily moved into the adjoining West Midlands HiPAC thanks to Herculean efforts by volunteers and stadium groundstaff.

 

And the PBs flowed indoors and out. Among the most spectacular…

 

Under 20 Mark Brown (Coventry Godiva) added an incredible 8cm to his high jump best, clearing 1.98m on a day he will never forget;

 

Under 17 Matt Rollings (City of Stoke AC) long jumped 6.86m, having finished last season with a best of 5.35m. He is now third in the Power of 10 Under 17 national rankings heading for the Sainsbury’s English Schools – “another rags to riches story,” says his coach John Crotty. “People will be asking what he’s on. I’m not giving him anything other than reasonable support.”

 

And throughout the rainy day, there was the indomitable spirit, best articulated by Golley: “I love competition. I have a PB of 17.06. Even though I am now 35, I fervently believe I can jump 17.06 again. That’s why I train in the snow and the rain and the wind. And why I compete whenever and wherever I can.”

 

To check all of the JumpsFest results, please click here