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Ennis tops Lewis’ U23 heptathlon mark

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Jessica Ennis

Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield AC) broke Denise Lewis’s UK Under 23 heptathlon best and equalled the UK senior women’s high jump record at the first IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meeting of the summer at Desenzano del Garda, Italy, on 5 and 6 May.

 

The Sheffield University student scored 6388 points, 101 more than her previous best, to win the competition. She finished 307 points ahead of her closest challenger, French international Marie Collonville, with World Championships bronze medallist Margaret Simpson (Ghana) third with 5954 points on her return after giving birth to her first baby.

 

Lewis’s UK under-23 record of 6325 was achieved in 1994, six years before she won the Olympic heptathlon title.

 

In winning four of the seven events, Ennis equalled the UK senior women’s high jump record of 1.95m that has stood to Diana Davies (Leicester Coritanian) since 1982 and was equalled by Susan Moncrieff (Trafford AC) in 2001.

 

Ennis also improved her lifetime bests in both the 100m hurdles (13.12 seconds) and long jump (6.40m).

 

She achieved qualifying standards for next year’s Beijing Olympics in both the heptathlon and high jump. And she qualified for the 100m hurdles and long jump at this summer’s European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.

 

Ennis, who won the European Junior heptathlon title in 2005 and the Commonwealth Games bronze medal last year, said of her Italian job: “It’s brilliant! I would have been happy to score 6100.”

 

Asked which event gave her most satisfaction, she replied: “I was over the moon with 1.95m in the high jump. I couldn’t believe it. But then again the long jump was amazing because I’ve been under-achieving for years. And I was really pleased with the hurdles.”

 

“I’ve trained really hard over the winter. We started in September and I’ve been getting on with it ever since, lifting a bit more in the weights and just getting on with everything. It’s all come together this weekend.”

 

Supporters will now believe she is ready to take on UK No.1 Kelly Sotherton, the 2004 Olympics bronze medallist and reigning Commonwealth champion who beat her for the pentathlon silver medal behind Kluft at this winter’s European Indoor Championships in Birmingham.

 

But Ennis responded: “I don’t know about that! She did brilliantly in the indoor pentathlon. She will probably come out in the summer and do a PB of her own. It will be nice to be up there, nearer to her though.”

 

For the record, her two days of performance added up as follows:

 

 

100m H

HJ

SP

200m

LJ

JT

800m

Points

1106

1171

670

1012

975

551

903

Perf

13.12

1.95

12.13

23.68

6.40

33.91

2:14.31

Wind

+0.2

 

 

+0.6

-0.3

 

 

 

Another seven members of the UK Athletics Combined Events National Squad qualified for the high-class Desenzano meeting – and two of them achieved personal best scores.

 

Phyllis Agbo (Thames Valley Harriers) finished 14th with 5510 points, only 31 points short of her best. In placing 11th on the first day with 3335 points, she clocked a 100m hurdles PB of 13.86 (wind: +0.7), high jumped 1.65m, put the shot 12.06m and sprinted 200m in 25.11 (wind: +1.3). It was her best first day by 17 points. On the second day, she long jumped 5.92m (wind: +0.8), threw the javelin 37.26m and ran the 800m in a huge PB of 2:26.67.

 

Gemma Weetman (Oswestry Olympians) battled into 18th place with 5115 points. She was 23rd overnight with 3023 points from a 14.69 seconds 100m hurdles (wind: +0.7), 1.62m high jump, 10.57m shot and 25.81 seconds 200m (wind: +1.2). On the second day, she long jumped 5.56m (wind: -0.4), threw the javelin 30.64m and ran the 800m in a PB of 2:15.51.

 

Dominique Blaize (Kingston & Poly) took 21st place with 4795 points from six events. She had been fifth overnight with 3488, her best first-day points total by 64, after she sprinted the 100m hurdles (wind: +0.7) in 14.32 seconds; high jumped 1.77m, a heptathlon best; put the shot 12.32m and sprinted 200 (wind: +1.3) in another PB of 24.52. On the second day, she long jumped 6.03m (wind: -0.3), which equalled her PB; threw the javelin only 28.50m and did not finish the 800m.

 

National Indoor pentathlon champion Katia Lannon (Sale Harriers Manchester) suffered a second day nightmare. She had improved her best first-day score by 41 points to 3284. She opened with a 100m hurdles PB of 14.27 (wind: +0.7), high jumped 1.71m, put the shot a PB of 11.62m, and sprinted 200m (into a slight head wind of -0.3) in 25.52. On the second day, she had three fouls in the long jump and scored no points, threw the javelin 33.24m but then did not contest the 800m, preferring to save her energy for future competitions.

 

In the Men’s decathlon, the medallists were: 1 Paul Terek (USA) 8134; 2 Vitaliy Smirnov (Uzbekistan) 7825; 3 Arkady Vasilyev (Russia) 7820.

 

Ben Hazell (Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC) finished seventh with a PB of 7559 points. He was 12th after the opening day with 3761 points from a 100m in 11.38, long jump PB of 6.96m (wind: +0.9), shot of 13.56m, high jump of 1.82m and 400m in 49.59 seconds. On the second day, traditionally his strongest, he sprinted the 110m hurdles in a PB of 15.04 seconds (wind: -1.3), threw the discus 44.00m, another PB; pole vaulted 4.30m, which equals his PB; threw the javelin 60.10m and ran the 1500m in yet another PB of 4:26.83.

 

Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) finished 12th with 7257 points a PB by 99 points. He had been ninth at the halfway stage with 3798 points, which amazingly equalled his best-yet first day score. He sprinted the 100m in 11.38 seconds (wind: +1.3), long jumped a PB 7.09m (wind: +0.6), put the shot 12.02m, high jumped 1.97m in the rain and ran 400m in 50.30 seconds. On the second day, he sprinted the 110m hurdles in 14.91 seconds (wind: +1.6), threw the discus 36.37m, pole vaulted 4.30m, threw the javelin 56.89m and ran the 1500m in 4:50.60, a PB by almost 6 seconds.

 

Dean Showler-Davies (Winchester and District AC) took 16th place among the 30 competitors with 6973 points. He was 16th from the first day with 3652 points (11.06 / wind: +1.3, 6.87 / wind: +0.1, 11.34, 1.85, 50.63). On the second day, he sprinted the 110m hurdles in a PB of 15.10 seconds (wind: +0.8), threw the discus 33.80m, pole vaulted a PB of 4.00m, threw the javelin 51.84m and ran the 1500m in 4:35.12.

 

Meanwhile at Bedford, BUSA Championships records fell to Pickering (University of Bath / Marshall Milton Keynes AC), Chris Kirk (Northumbria University / City of Sheffield AC), Zoe Derham (Gloucester University / Birchfield Harriers), Faye Harding (Loughborough University / Sale Harriers Manchester), Kadi-Ann Thomas (Brunel University / Marshall Milton Keynes AC) and the University of Bath’s men’s 4x100m squad.

 

It all revolved around Pickering. He electrified the first day by retaining the 100m title in 10.29 seconds, within seven-hundredths of the PB he ran at the 2005 Loughborough International. It erased from the BUSA Championships bests the 10.30 run by Jamie Henthorn in 1998.

 

Demonstrating how much he benefited from his indoor campaign – which climaxed with him earning the 60m silver medal at the European Indoor Championships at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena – Pickering reacted to the starter’s gun so instantly that the title was effectively won in the first half dozen strides.

 

Two factors make the time even more impressive: he did not trim his heavy workload under the guidance of coach Malcolm Arnold in the days leading up to this, his first competitive outing of the summer; and the wind speed of +0.5 metres per second hardly helped.

 

Pickering, who plans to race in Guernsey on 30 May to sharpen-up for the Norwich Union Grand Prix at Glasgow’s Scotstoun Stadium on 3 June, said after his seasonal opener: “It’s my third fastest 100. The start was good and I held my form quite well. The aim of the winter campaign was to sort out my start and I think it’s even better now because I’ve done more weights and I am stronger.”

 

Equally impressive was Kirk’s Championships record of 7.82m in the long jump – an 18cm improvement on his PB, which had stood since 2003 while he fought a seemingly endless series of injury setbacks. His effort beat the 7.69m by Gable Garenamotse in 2003.

 

Derham’s hammer record of 66.54m suggests she is ready to battle with Shirley Webb (Trafford AC) for the title of successor to UK record holder Lorraine Shaw, who now advises her. Especially as her effort eclipses Shaw’s own CBP of 61.94m.

 

Among other first day BUSA highlights… Lauren Therin (UWIC / Channel Islands AC) launched the javelin a PB of 52.09m and pinged two more efforts beyond 50m in an impressive series; Montell Douglas (Brunel University / Blackheath and Bromley Harriers) won the women’s 100m in 11.64 seconds, just a hundredth ahead of the fast-finishing Thomas, vivacious proof that much more than Pickering has emerged from the MK squad coached by Mike Leonard!

 

The second day was marred by high winds but 400m hurdles winners Steve Green (University of Bath / Newham and Essex Beagles) and first-year Under 23 Eilidh Child (Edinburgh University / Pitreavie AAC) shone through the worst of the weather.

 

Green, a 4x400m gold medallist for Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland at this winter’s European Indoor Championships, won the men’s title in 52.14 seconds while Child ran her fifth PB of this year, 59.05, as she pursues the European Under 23 Championships qualifying standard of 58.25.

 

The wind disappeared for the third and final day – and three more records were blown away.

 

Harding – still considering whether to hurdle in pursuit of a place in the Norwich Union GB&NI team at the European Under 23 Championships in the Hungarian city in which she began her international career six years ago – won the women’s 400m in 52.99 seconds, eight-hundredths quicker than the CBP run by Kim Wall in 2005.

 

Thomas – obviously thriving on the competition with Douglas – won the 200m in 23.41, erasing the CBP of 23.8 by Susan Williams in 1995.

 

And to complete BUSA’s version of the ‘super six’, Pickering anchored the Bath team of Ryan Scott, Bruce Tasker and Dan Cossins to a massive 4x100m victory in 40.69, beating the Loughborough time of 41.39 run in 1999.

 

Not that Loughborough could be totally kept out of the limelight. Coach George Gandy celebrated his 35th successive BUSAs by watching three of his charges win titles: Mike Coltherd retaining his 1500m title in 3:50.02; Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield AC) in the 5000m (16:57.50), Abi Westley (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield) in the 800m (2:04.16).

 

Close behind Westley, 18-year-old Emma Jackson (Keele University / City of Stoke AC) smashed the European Juniors qualifying guideline of 2:06.00 by finishing second in a great new PB of 2:04.41.

 

Another highlight involved 19-year-old Andy Osagie (St Mary’s University Twickenham / Harlow AC) showing maturity exceeding his years to pace his 800m effort so well that he won in 1:50.71 after a 56.59 first lap and “mad” – his description – second circuit.

 

Two young GB internationals also won titles: David Greene (University of Bath / Swansea Harriers) lowered his 400m PB from 47.13 to 46.81; William Sharman (Loughborough University / Belgrave Harriers) won the 110m hurdles final in 14.06, and looked much stronger and more fluent than in Saturday’s British League as he returns from injury.