England Athletics / Northern Athletics Combined Events Championships
Manchester Regional Arena
12th & 13th August 2017
On the same weekend the World Athletics Championships were reaching an exciting finale in London the top young combined event athletes in the country were contesting the England Athletics & Northern Athletics Combined Events Championships at Manchester’s Regional Arena. Kingston upon Hull’s Venus Morgan was the only local competitor involved as she attempted to add the Northern under 17 heptathlon title to the indoor pentathlon which she won 5 months ago in Sheffield.
Torrential rain meant a delayed start to proceedings on Saturday morning but when the weather relented and events finally got underway Venus made a solid start placing 3rd overall in the 80m hurdles with a time of 11.91 sec, scoring 811 points. With the area and national championships being staged concurrently this time also put her in 1st place in the Northern event. Unfortunately the high jump which had been the downfall of the UK’s top heptathlete Katarina Johnson –Thompson in the World Championships a week earlier also proved a major disappointment for Venus, with her best effort of 1.49m being well below her best. This added 610 points to her overall total and dropping her back to 7th place overall, although she maintained a narrow lead in her quest for the Northern title. Event three saw the girls move to the shot circle with Venus producing her best performance of the weekend with a huge personal best putt of 11.80m – over half a metre further than her previous best. This brought her up to 4th place and increased her lead over Hannah Barnden (Derby AC) the 2nd placed Northern athlete. Day one concluded with the 200m – a strong event for Venus. With the fastest sprinters running together in the final heat a strong headwind of 3 metres per second sprung up after the previous races had been contested in calm conditions. This unfortunately had an effect on times, although a 26.59 clocking still accrued 746 points for Venus she would have hoped for more in better conditions, especially with her rivals for the Northern title having run in the earlier heats. Fifth place with 2,815 points after 4 events still represented a good day’s work, although her lead in the Northern event had now been reduced to 56 points leaving the final outcome of both championships on a knife –edge with the long jump, javelin & 800m still to go.
Day two dawned bright, still and warm in sharp contrast with Saturday’s conditions, much to the heptathletes’ relief. An early morning start saw the girls tackle the long jump where Venus produced the 4th longest jump of the day, her 5.32m effort scoring 648 points. This maintained her Northern championship lead and also moved her into 4th spot in the national event. Things changed in the penultimate event when a disappointing javelin throw of 23.70m (358 points) saw Venus lose her lead to her Derbyshire rival, although she maintained 4th place overall. Not even a new personal best of 2:31.54 in the 800m could recover this, with the 674 points gained giving a total of 4,495 for the seven events, a tantalising 15 points short of Barnden’s winning score, but still well clear of the 4,146 points amassed by bronze medal winner Steph Driscoll (Liverpool Harriers). A small consolation was that this total exceeded Venus’s previous best by 8 points and it also placed her 6th in the England Athletics championship.
A hectic spell now follows before the end of the season with Venus now preparing for both Northern and England championships in her individual events with the English Schools heptathlon in Boston bringing down the curtain on her final season in the under 17 age group in mid September.