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Norwich Union GB combined events successes
25 Feb 2006 23:29

European Junior heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield) set a new UK Under 23 pentathlon record – and moved to third on the senior all-time list behind Kelly Sotherton and Julie Hollman – at an indoor international at Eaubonne, France, on Sunday 26 February.

It was the high spot of an exceptional performance by the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team, who won the overall Under 23 and Under 20 competition with 53,911 points from France (52,600) and Spain (44,859) to the delight of Team Leader Ian Grant and Team Coach Darrell Bunn.

Grant said: “We had the Rover money. I would like to think the results we are now getting proves that we used it well. There are so many PBs and athletes going into the all-time list, it shows that combined events is in an increasingly healthy state. Add this to our best-ever scores at the senior international three weeks ago and it goes without saying that we are making great progress.

“It’s been a fantastic month for British combined events – one that I will remember for a long, long time. An awful lot of hard work by an awful lot of people has started to produce some fruit.”

The 20-year-old Ennis, who will be the England team mate of Sotherton and Hollman in the Commonwealth Games heptathlon in Melbourne next month, won the match with 4401 points to overtake the previous UK Under 23 record held by her first coach, Nicola Minichiello, who competed in the Winter Olympics bobsleigh last week.

Ennis, now coached by Nicola’s husband Toni Minichiello, sprinted the 60m hurdles in a personal best of 8.29 seconds, equalled her high jump best of 1.87m and went close to clearing 1.90m which would have put her top of the UK Senior Women’s rankings for this season, put the shot 11.82m, long jumped 5.85m and ran the 800m in 2:20.45, an indoor PB. It was an improvement by 312 points on her previous best score, set when she won the 2005 AAA Indoor Championships.

In second place was Catherine Holdsworth, also 20 (Colchester Harriers) with 4021, which puts her 15th on the Senior all-time list and fourth on the Under 23 all-time list. She clocked a 60m hurdles PB of 8.59 seconds; high jumped an indoor PB of 1.63m; put the shot 12.27m, her first time over 12m; long jumped 5.95m; and ran 800m in 2:26.28, which is an indoor PB. It was an improvement by 193 points in all.

Completing a Norwich Union GB 1-2-3 was Phylis Agbo (Thames Valley Harriers) with 3933, which puts her 27th Senior all-time and eighth on the Under 23 list. She covered the 60m hurdles in 8.64 seconds, high jumped 1.66m, put the shot an indoor PB 11.87m, long jumped an indoor PB 5.89m and ran 800m in 2:31.76, a PB by almost three seconds. It meant she beat her previous points best by 202 to confirm she is over injuries that have plagued her for much of the last three years.

Completing a GB cleansweep, AAA Champion Katia Lannon (Sale Harriers Manchester) was fourth with 3784 points – 8.98 seconds for the 60m hurdles, 1.63m high jump, 10.85m shot, 5.44m long jump and 2:19.45 for the 800m.

It meant Norwich Union GB had a colossal winning margin of 1,427 points. Team result: GB 12,355; 2 France 10,928; 3 Spain 10.413.

Norwich Union GB also won the Under 20 Women’s pentathlon with 10,867 points followed by France with 10,669 and Spain on 10,547.

This competition was won by AAA Bronze medallist Gemma Weetman (Oswestry Olympians) in her first ever international with 3822 points, a PB which puts her fifth on the UK all-time list. Her amazing day began with a 60m hurdles PB of 8.99 seconds, a 1.63m high jump that equalled her best, 9.09m shot, 6.01m long jump, another PB, and 2:20.55 800m, which was two seconds faster than ever before. It added up to a PB score by 179 above her AAA Championships performances in January.

In fourth place was Dominique Blaize (Kingston and Poly) with a PB points total of 3566 from 9.05 seconds in the 60m hurdles, 1.75m high jump, 11.83m shot, 5.48m long jump and 2:55.74 in the 800m. That added 23 points to her best, taking her into the UK top 25 all-time.

In eighth was another GB debutante, Amy Hill ((City of Sheffield) with a PB score of 3479 – 9.15 seconds PB in the 60m hurdles, 1.54m high jump, 11.63m shot, 4.88m long jump and 2:23.99 PB in the 800m, taking more than four seconds off her previous fastest. It was 157 points better than at the AAAs last month.

In 11th place was Megan Beesley (Tamworth) with 3268 points – 9.18 seconds in the 60m hurdles, 1.57m equal PB in the high jump, 8.05m shot, 5.50m long jump and 2:38.45 800m.

It meant that Norwich Union GB won the Women’s match with 23,322 points from France with 21,597 and Spain with 20,960.

“Pretty astounding stuff!” said Team Leader Grant.

There were also some pretty astounding Norwich Union GB performances in the Men’s heptathlon matches.

France won the Under 23 Men’s competition with 15,675 from GB on 15,369 and Spain on 14,323.

Ben Hazell (Basingstoke and Mid Hants) was third with a PB 5230 points that takes him to 31st on the UK all-time Senior list, exactly equalling the best score of his coach, Billy Jewers. He ended Saturday with 2932 points, a first day PB by 104 points, from a 60m in 7.34 seconds (PB), long jump of 6.73m (PB), shot of 12.86m and high jump of 1.95m (indoor PB). His Sunday service amounted to a 60m hurdles of 8.55 seconds (another PB), 4.10m pole vault and 2:46.32 for 1000m.

Dean Showler-Davis (Winchester) finished fourth on 5123 points, which puts him 35th on the all-time Senior list and 18th on the all-time Under 23 list. He accumulated 2891, his most successful first day by 56 points, from a 7.02 PB 60m, 6.84m long jump, 10.82m PB shot and 1.89m indoor PB high jump. Three more PBs followed on Sunday – 8.40 seconds in the 60m hurdles, 3.70m pole vault and 2:45.48 1000m. He beat his previous best points total by 96.

Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) finished sixth with 5016 after laying ninth overnight. He ran the 60m hurdles in 8.33 seconds, pole vaulted 4.00m and ran the 1000m in 2:56.77 to follow his first day efforts – 7.21 seconds 60m, 6.58m long jump, 11.87m PB shot and 1.86m high jump.

Ed Dunford (Birchfield Harriers) finished seventh with 4987 after lying second overnight with 2897 points from a 7.19 seconds 60m, 6.54m long jump, 13.45m shot and 1.86m high jump. He clocked 8.29 in the 60m hurdles, pole vaulted 3.70m and clocked 3:01.94 in the 1000m.

In the Under 20 Men’s heptathlon, France accumulated 15,328 points to pip Norwich Union GB 15,320 after a thriller.

Francis Baker (City of Norwich) was the star of this particular GB show. He won with 5265, the second best ever points total by a UK Under 20 all-time in a competition using a 6kg shot. On Saturday he totalled 2902 points, a first day PB by a massive 237 points. His 60m was a PB of 7.21 seconds. His long jump was an indoor PB of 6.76m. His shot was a PB of 11.53m. And his high jump was a PB of 1.95m. And he continued in the same peak form on Sunday. His 60m hurdles was a PB of 8.28 seconds. His pole vault was a PB of 4.30m. And his 1000m was a PB of 2:51.41. It added 425 points to his previous best – an amazing percentage improvement. Team Leader Grant attempted to put it into perspective: “You expect people to get lots of PBs but not many perform like this in all seven events on the same weekend. The last I recall was by Anthony Brannen in the 1980s.”

Daniel Awde (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), the AAA Indoor Champion, finished second with 5160, a PB by 91 points which makes him fourth in the all-time lists. He was ninth overnight with 2691 points, a first day PB by 31 points – 7.19 PB 60m, 6.60m indoor PB long jump, 11.00m shot and 1.77m high jump. On the second day, his 60m hurdles of 8.28 was another PB, he pole vaulted 4.20m and his 1000m of 2:39.13 was yet another PB.

Ricardo Beckford (London Heathside) was seventh with a PB of 4895, 166 better than his Bronze medal-winning performance at last month’s AAA’s, taking him to ninth on UK the all-time list in the age group. He was eighth overnight with 2692 points, a first day PB by 17 points – 7.15 PB 60m, 6.73m long jump, 9.99m PB shot and 1.80m indoor PB high jump. On Sunday, he sprinted the 60m hurdles in 8.66, improved his pole vault PB sensationally to 3.90m (from 3.30m) and came back to earth to run a 1000m PB 2:47.66.

Daniel Gregory (City of Stoke) finished tenth with 4345 – 7.20 seconds for the 60m, 6.25m PB long jump, 8.49m shot, 1.83m high jump, 9.19 seconds 60m hurdles, 3.70m pole vault and 3:06.33 for the 1000m.

France won the Under 20 Men’s match with 31,003 from GB with 30,689.

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