By Owen Morgan
Two of Wales’ most promising young athletes have guaranteed their places in the Great Britain team for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Finland next month.
Jake Heyward and James Tomlinson both won gold at the England Athletics U-20 and U-23 Championships in Bedford on Sunday, where the Under-20 events doubled up as World Championship trials.
Wins in their respective events, added to the fact they have both achieved the qualifying standards, mean they will be on the plane to Tampere when the full team is announced later this month.
Heyward, who gained the 1500m qualifying standard while setting a new personal best at the recent Diamond League meeting in Oslo, clinched his spot with an excellent tactical run in Sunday’s final, having won his heat the previous day.
The Cardiff AAC man won by over a second and a half in a time of 3:54.05 ahead of Thomas Keen from Cambridge and Coleridge AC, bringing him his third title in a row at the championships.
A delighted Heyward said: “It’s really nice to get the job done, I knew I had the time, it was just a matter of coming out here and getting the win.
“The third title is really important because running fast times is great but you need to be able to perform at a major championship and win when it really matters so I’m really happy I’ve done that today.”
Asked what he felt his chances were in Finland, Heyward added: “It depends how the race is run because the 1500m is very hard to predict but I’m ready for all scenarios and then it’s about finishing as high as I can.
“I’ve done European Youths and European Juniors, so hopefully I can keep the success going now. This is amazing. I’ve never done anything of that standard before so I’m really looking forward to testing myself against everyone else in the world.”
Heyward will be joined in the Great Britain team by Pembrokeshire Harrier Tomlinson who won the men’s U-20 discus gold with a throw of 57.65m.
Although the winning throw was short of World U-20 qualifying distance, Tomlinson has already surpassed that mark with a personal best throw of 58.57 in Portugal earlier this month.
Tomlinson said afterwards: “During the competition I felt under so much pressure but now I’ve got that ticket, I can get my head down in training and then go all guns blazing for champs in July.
“This will be my sixth British vest so I’m really happy with that. This is my first time on the world stage so to go up against the guys that are on the IAAF page for the first time and the pressure of the competition will bring out the best in everyone.”
There was more Welsh gold celebrated at Bedford on Sunday. Cardiff’s Jac Palmer comfortably retained the men’s U-23 hammer title with a winning throw of 67.29.
And after winning her women’s 400m hurdles U-20 heat on Saturday, Lauren Williams, of Swansea Harriers, repeated the feat with a brilliant run in the final to take gold in a personal best time of 59.21.
While Wrexham AC’s Amy Odunaiya claimed a superb silver medal behind Shannon Hylton in the Women’s 200m U-23 final, clocking a new personal best of 24.43. Amelia Reynolds, of Cardiff AAC finished fourth in the final as she clocked 24.69.
It was a great day overall for the Welsh throwers at the meeting as Neath Harrier Bethany Moule won her group in the women’s Under-23 javelin with a throw of 47.76, which was the second longest distance of the day.
Swansea Harriers’ Osaze Oghedo claimed bronze by just one centimetre ahead of Glasgow School of Sport’s Aidan Quinn in the Under-20 triple jump with a leap of 14.69m.
Thomas Williams, of Barry and Vale Harriers, narrowly missed out on a medal in the men’s U-23 200m final as he finished fourth in 21.69.
Another Welsh athlete to go agonisingly close to a medal was Swansea Harrier Cari Hughes, who finished fourth in the women’s U-20 1500m final in 4:31.96.
Ben Thomas, of Carmarthen Harriers won the men’s 2000m U-18 trial for next month’s European Youth Championships in Hungary in a qualifying time of 5:59.70.
The remainder of the Great Britain team for the Under-20 World Championships will be selected on June 25 and announced the following day. The team for the European Youth Championships will be announced on June 22.