The European U20 Championships take place next week. A total of 76 British athlete will head to Jerusalem for four days of competition, many for their first race abroad. In the first of two articles, James Rhodes takes a look at who will be competing in the 800m and 1500m.
Heats: 16:35 Tuesday 8 August, Final: 16:15 Thursday 10 August
Jerusalem will be the first race outside of the UK for a number of athletes. David Race is one of them. He travels to Israel in good form having won the England Championships in Chelmsford, the trial event, by over a second.
His PB sits at 1:47.74, set in June at the BMC in Birmingham University, a time he has improved by 1.5s this year. Race took bronze at the BUCS Indoor Championships this season.
Harry Ross-Hughes has made great strides over 800m this year after transitioning from a primary focus on the 400m and 400m hurdles. He has improved his PB by over ten seconds, to 1:48.33.
Currently studying at Lake Erie in the United States, he finished an impressive fifth at the NCAA Division II Championships in May. Harry has run inside 1:48 three times this year, including in the heats of the British Championships. He finished second behind Race at the trials in June.
Finlay Hutchinson joins the pair. He too is improving rapidly and has set PBs over 400m, 800m and 1500m this season. His 800m best is 1:49.00, run at the BMC Grand Prix at Sportcity in May.
His ‘best’ race of the year, perhaps, was winning the invitational 800m at the Highgate Night of the 10000m PB’s. Like David, it will be his first race outside of the UK.
All eyes will be on Dutch star Niels Laros, who is entered entered in the 800m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m! With a 1:44.78 PB set this year he is the fastest in the field.
Heats: 16:15 Tuesday 8 August, Final: 15:57 Thursday 10 August
If anyone in the British team can be called a ‘favourite’ to come home with a medal, it is probably Abbie Ives. She and Austrian Audrey Werro are the only athletes to have run inside two minutes. Ives achieved this in Belfast in May, running 1:59.92, followed by 2:00.82 and 2:02.83 in her two most recent races. On Sunday, she ran a 54.79 400m debut at her ‘home’ track at Birmingham University.
After finishing sixth at last year’s World Junior Championships, she will undoubtedly be looking for a few places further.
Iris Downes and Indienne King join Ives. Downes holds a PB of 2:04.44, set last year, and finished third at the trials in Chelmsford last month. Like Finlay Hutchinson, she won the invitational 800m at Highgate in May. Her season’s best of 2:05.24 puts her eighth on the list of entries by 2023 performances.
Indienne King is another in the team to have set their PB at a British Milers Club meeting. Her best of 2:05.56 came at the BMC Grand Prix in Sportcity. She has backed it up with four 2:06 performances, including in finishing second at the trials in Chelmsford.
Phoebe Gill, who won the ‘trials’ in Chelmsford, will be competing at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad & Tobago, rather than Jerusalem.
Heats: 17:40 Monday 7 August, Final: 07:25 Wednesday 9 August
If Niels Laros’s 800m time was impressive, how about his 1500m best of 3:32.89. He is just 18 years old! Thanks to that performance, he is the second fastest European U20 in history, and jointly holds the Dutch (senior) Record.
Sitting fourth on the entry lists by season’s best is Scotsman Tendai Nyabadza. He improved to 3:41.71, his fourth PB of the year, and by six seconds on his 2022 best. Tendai took bronze at the European U18 Championships last year.
He is part of an elite coaching set up with Robert Hawkins, Callum and Derek’s dad, and won the England Championships in June. There he finished ahead of Sam Mills who joins him in Jerusalem. Sam has improved his 800m and 1500m bests this year, the latter to 3:44.86. He has international experience, having competed at the World XC Championships in February and finished fourth at the European XC Championships last year.
The pair are joined by Daniel Galloway. The Telford athlete has a PB of 3:44.82 and is another who will be racing abroad for the first time. He finished third at the English Schools in Birmingham last month.
Heats: 17:20 Monday 7 August, Final: 17:20 Wednesday 9 August
Thanks to her 4:14.56 PB set at the BMC Grand Prix in Loughborough in June, Ella Greenway heads to Jerusalem as the second fastest athlete in the 1500m field. She has improved by an impressive near-15 seconds in 2023 compared to her best at the start of the year, set in 2019.
It has been a good couple of months for the Cleethorpes athlete. They’ve included a win at the England Championships, second in the Loughborough International (where she set her 800m PB) and gold at the English Schools over the shorter distance.
Abigail Stratton and Ava Lloyd complete the British trio in the 1500m. Both have improved to 4:20 this year and, like Ella, have brought their 400m and 800m PBs down this season too.
Ava set her PB at the England Championships, the trials for Jerusalem, where she finished fourth. Her 800m best came at the British Championships, a distance she raced at the FBK Games in the Netherlands in June.
Abigail has seen plenty of success in 2023 also. Accolades include wins at the Lancashire Schools’ Championships, England Championships indoors and the Northern Championships outdoors. Her PB came at the BMC Grand Prix in Sportcity, and she has run inside her 2022 best five times this season.
Lyla Belshaw and Jessica Lark, who finished on the podium in Chelmsford, are U17 and so are not in the team for Jerusalem. Sofia Thogersen of Denmark is the fastest in the field by over seconds, with a 4:11.08 PB.