By Owen Morgan
The cream of Wales’ young athletic talent enjoyed an excellent first day at the England Athletics Under-23 and Under-20 Championships at Bedford on Saturday.
The meeting also doubles up as the trials for the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, next month.
There was drama in the under-20 men’s 3000m which was eventually won by Cardiff’s James Vincent in 9:11.9.
Following a pedestrian first 2,000m, Rory Leonard broke ranks and went for the line with 400m to go.
Vincent eased past him on the straight, but as Leonard strained hard to respond and close the gap, he collided with Swansea Harrier Conor Smith and both fell just short of the line as they trailed in the Welshman’s wake.
Smith, who had looked certain to finish amongst the medals before the collision, eventually finished in fifth after picking himself up from the track.
After the race Vincent said: “I felt comfortable with the pace and the fast finish as I’ve been doing 800m and 1500m races and that’s my biggest win to date.”
Cardiff AAC’s Sarah Omoregie, who competed at last year’s Junior Commonwealth Games, won the Under-20 shot by a 24cm margin with a 14.22m throw.
Another young Welsh thrower on winning form was Bethan Rees, of Cannock and Stafford AC, who won the Under-20 women’s javelin gold with a throw of 47.87m
Also in the field, Jay Morse, younger brother of Welsh Olympian Brett Morse, won his group in the men’s U-23 discus finals with throw of 55.48m.
Nicholas Young, of Sale Harriers, won bronze in the men’s U-20 shot put final with an effort of 16.44m.
Swansea Harrier Hannah Brier agonisingly missed out on a bronze medal by one hundredth of a second in the Women’s U-23 100m final as she finished fourth in 11.93.
Neath Harrier Ceiron Hopkins also just missed out on a medal in the men’s U-20 long jump as he finished fourth with a jump of 6.91m.
Fresh from clocking a new personal best with an outstanding performance at the Oslo Diamond League meeting, Cardiff AAC’s Jake Heyward booked his place in Sunday’s U-20 1500m final by winning his heat in 4:00.57.
Swansea Harrier Lauren Williams also eased her way into Sunday’s finals, winning her women’s U-20 400m hurdles heat in the fastest time of the day – 61.63. Cardiff AAC’s Lana Culliford will also contest the final. Her time of 64.99 clinching one of the fastest losers spots.
Another Cardiff athlete, Joseph Reid, booked his place in the men’s U-23 800m final by winning his heat in 1:53.77.
Swansea Harrier Joe Briar will be in action on Sunday, having finished second in his men’s U-20 400m heat in a time of 48 seconds.
And fellow Harrier Cari Hughes qualified for the women’s under-20 1500m final by finishing third in her heat in 4:36:58.
The Great Britain team for the Under-20 World Championships will be selected on June 25 and announced the following day.