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UK Athletics

Woodford Green & EL and Edinburgh take top honours

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It was a busy weekend in the UK Challenge with the second round of the men's British Athletics League and the first round of the UK Women's League held on Saturday 3 June.


Altogether there were eight matches at six venues, and the opportunity for top class competition, saw some quality performances that saw some of the countries leading athletes score points for their club and also significantly increase their own points score in the UK Challenge.


Defending champions Woodford Green and Essex Ladies ran out easy winners of the British League men's Premiership match at SportsCity, Manchester. Emeka Udechuku was a major part of their victory with a superb 18.35m / 59.51m shot and discus double. That netted him respective points of 208 for the shot and 209 for the discus in the UK Challenge. Udechuku, who was seventh in the Commonwealth Games discus, won the Athlete of the Match at the first match at Copthall on May 6th. However this time that wasn't quite the best score on the day as Dale Garland (Birchfield) scored a whopping 213 points in the 400m hurdles with his 50.47 clocking, with Ryan Dinham (Belgrave) pushing him all the way with a PB 50.84.


Other big scorers in the challenge were Melbourne fourth-placer Andy Frost (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) who threw 71.24 (201) in the hammer, high jumper Adam Scarr (Enfield & Haringay) who sailed to a big PB of 2.20m (200) and pole vaulter Christian North (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) who vaulted 5.15m (185).


Leigh Smith (Birchfield) did a fine PB in the long jump of 7.67m (177) to back up his recent windy 7.80m in the Inter Counties Championships. May UK Challenge athlete of the month Will Sharman (Belgrave Harriers) won again but a strong 3.7 m/s headwind kept his 110m hurdles A string victory to 14.29 (168) which was just enough to pip Allan Scott (Shaftesbury Barnet) who ran 14.30 seconds (167).


Match score: Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 343.5; Birchfield 314; Belgrave H 297; Sale 285; Shaftersbury Barnet 264; Enfield & Haringay 251; Newham & Essex Beagles 248.5; Thames Valley Harriers 173.


The women's Division 1 League match, also at Manchester went down to the wire with Edinburgh pipping City of Manchester thanks to winning the final track event, the 4x400 relay.


The top UK challenge performance came from Trafford's Shirley Webb, courtesy of a 63.78 hammer throw, which scored 203 points in a quality competition.


An impressive performance amongst the junior ranks came from Stephanie Pywell (City of Manchester) who won the high jump in a PB 1.83, which exceeds the qualifying mark for the World Junior Championships and gave her 185 points.


Another high scorer was Joanna Ross (Edinburgh) who won the 800m in a swift 2:04.30 (177), and American Tiombe Hurd (Birchfield) in the triple jump 13.36 (182).


Match score: Edinburgh 184, Manchester 183; Trafford 171; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow 155.5; Birchfield 155; Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 148; Shaftesbury Barnet 145.5; Rugby & Nantwich 81.


In the men's Division 1 match at Bedford, 1994 Commonwealth Champion Julian Golley (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) windy 16.50 triple jump was the top UKA challenge performance (200 points). In the Division 2 match at Swansea, 400m hurdler David Greene (Swansea) scored 212 points for his Divisional record of 50.52 while Harrow won the match.


The Men's Division 3 match at Kingston was won by Basingstoke and Mid Hants though the top UK Challenge performance came from Gateshead's Ian Burns, whose 63.61m javelin throw netted him 133 Challenge points.


The women's Division 2 match at Wigan was won by the home club and their discus thrower Kara Nwidobie Sharpe gained the highest score of 175 points with a 54.08 throw.


In the women's Division 3 match at Bedford, British record holder Janine Whitlock 4.15 pole vault earned 205 points and helped Belgrave Harriers win the match.


The women's Division 4 match was won by Thames Valley though it was Radley's Rachel Brenton 12.80 triple jump that topped that match's Challenge scores with 160 points.


The UK Challenge series provides British athletes just below that of international standard and aspiring athletes, with top-class competition throughout the summer and throughout the UK. Altogether there are 48 events throughout the season to score points in culminating in the UK Challenge final at Manchester on the 27 August.