9 Feb 2009

The Welsh U20 Indoor Championships, held at the National Indoor Athletics Centre, Cardiff, turned out to be a resounding success, with some remarkable performances to please a fully crowded arena.

Several Personal Best records were improved, and the competition saw also a few old Championship Best Performances being shattered – all in all, a fine day of athletics.

In the Men’s 60m final, Christopher Howe of Cardiff beat club mate Matthew Jones and Herne Hill’s AJ Boyce, with Tom Knight being the third best Welsh in the race. Jones’s time of 7.14s, a new Personal Best, was not enough to beat Howe’s 7.07s. Between heats and final, several athletes managed to improve their best-ever performances, with Tino Dummett lowering his time to 7.22s and James Gardner, Jamie Price and Jack Gronow setting their times to 7.27, 7.37 and 7.38 respectively.

The 200m were an affair for mostly the same faces, with Tom Knight coming out on top this time, with a time of 22.72s, enough to see off Cardiff’s Lloyd Bowen and Chris Howe. Bowen also managed to improve his PB in the heats, lowering it to 23.11s.

The 400m saw another fine performance, this time from Nathan Felvus of Cardiff, who improved his PB with a 49.89s run; Felvus preceded the pair of Nico Constanti, who also put in a new record performance, 50.27, and Michael Haslett. Unfortunately, the remaining Welshman Sam Conway was forced to retire during what was shaping up to be a very interesting contest for the medals. In the heats, Cardiff’s Jamie Gutteridge improved his PB to 51.93s.

Saturday was also the occasion for a new Championship Best Performance in the 60m Hurdles, courtesy of Lawrence Clarke of WSEH who stopped the clock on 7.90s, a massive 36 hundredths of seconds faster than Kris Jones’s previous record. The Welsh Champion crown went to 2nd placed Dafydd Walters of Carmarthen Harriers (8.42s, new Personal Best), followed by Cardiff’s Benjamin Cleary (8.74s, new Personal Best) and Thomas Parry (8.90s).

There were exciting moments also for field athletes: Newport Harriers’ Jacob Matthews shot to glory with a 15.94m throw that earned him a new PB and shattered Mathew Evans previous Championship Best Performance of 15.78m. Tomos Edwards (Carmarthen Harriers) was second with a PB of 15.05, while Anthony Halling of Rhondda AC got bronze with a fine 11.45. In the High Jump, Justin Lakey was the best of the group, winning the overall competition with a measure of 1.85m. John Edwards, the top Welshman, equalled the measure but was classified 2nd due to a higher number of jumps. The Deeside athlete was crowned Welsh Champion ahead of Lewis Long – another athlete clearing 1.85 and equalling his own PB – and Sutton’s Ryan Clancy, whose leap of 1.80 was good enough for bronze.

Thomas Kivell was the king of the sandpit as he powered to a fine Long Jump gold medal with a 6.78m effort. He was followed by Stoke’s James Gardner, who jumped 6.74m, and Carmarthen’s Kueni Igbagiri (6.44m). Kivell was also in contention for the Triple Jump crown, where he had to settle for silver instead. Gold went to Cardiff’s Alex Obiako, whose measure was 14.24m as opposed to Kivell’s 13.69. Third place went to Adam Williams (UWIC/Menai T&F) with a measure of 13.45.

The U20 Women competitions weren’t worth anything less than the ones of their male counterparts, and produced an array of great performances and close battles that would have molten the snow that fell over Wales in the past week.

Sarah Dacey (Swansea Harriers) powered to a brilliant 9.26s in the 60m Hurdles, a new Personal Best for an athlete who had a very busy weekend. Dacey was followed by Lauren O’Reilly of Newport, who got silver with a 9.42s run, and Catherine Goldsmith (Carmarthen), who improved her PB with a 9.49s run. Remove the hurdles, and Hannah Pendlebury of Deeside is the leader. Her 7.80s performance was enough to see off the competition of Cwmbran’s Claire Williams, who had to settle for silver, and of Hannah Jones, who clocked 7.94s and 8.01s respectively.

Pendlebury was the fastest also in the 200m, where her time of 25.63s put her ahead of Neath’s Sarah Pole (26.26s) and Cornwall’s Katie Hewitt (27.09s). Hewitt also claimed bronze in the 400m final, her performance, 60.89s, placing her behind first placed Brigid Eades, who clocked her new PB in 58.21s, and Pembroke’s Sophie Thomas (60.22). In the heats, a performance worthy of notice came from Emily Mitchell, who set the time at 63.04s in her first ever 400m – and coming back from a long injury.

Sarah Dacey came back to action in the Long Jump pit – and collected yet another gold with her 5.38m leap. She was followed by Alex Elliot and Amy Campagne, the Deeside duo jumping 5.17m and 5.10m respectively. Campagne managed to come back with an extra medal, and of the most prestigious colour, by winning the Triple Jump. Her 10.83m distance was enough to beat Llanelli’s Donna Jones, whose best effort was 10.43m.

The High Jump final was a family affair for Elizabeth and Charlotte Parry, who clinched gold and silver with a 1.66m (new Personal Best) and 1.63m jump respectively. Third place was awarded to Alex Elliot for a 1.60m effort. In the Pole Vault, Elinor Lewis went up in the sky enough to set the new Championship Best Performance, improving Jessica Abraham’s 3.52m measure by 9cm. The 3.62m leap earned Lewis the gold, ahead of Deeside’s Christina Hughes, who set the bar at 3.41m.

In the last field event, Sheffield’s Tesni Ward’s 13.01m Shot added another crown to the Senior Welsh Championship’s impressive tally. Ward was more than two meters ahead of 2008 Champion Catherine Goldsmith, with the bronze going to Ayla Phillips.