Exeter Harriers Sam Talbot and Anya Turner have both once again posted National Standard scores at their respective Regional Schools Championships in what has been a weekend of highlights and missed opportunities for the high flying pair. Both athletes have moved up an age group and find themselves against athletes older than themselves, but the transition has gone well from the Junior Pentathlons of the last two years and they have embraced the new two-day event, and the additional events that it brings, with positive enthusiasm and maturity.
Fifteen year old Talbot, competing for Surrey Schools in the U17 Octathlon at the South East Regional Finals at Lee Valley, posted a superb score of 4600 to take the runner-up spot, but he will undoubtedly reflect on a couple of events which could have gone better. The highlight of Talbot’s first day was a new lifetime best in the 400 in 50.01, some 4 secs inside his previous best, giving him an eleventh place National Ranking in an event which the sprint hurdles specialist rarely runs. Day one also brought a solid long jump of 6.14 and javelin of 37.16 but a disappointing discus of 22.86, with Talbot concluding the day in third place. Day two started well with Talbot amassing good points with an excellent sprint hurdles of 13.31, the fastest time of the competition, pushing him up into second overall, but yet again his high jump result was below par with a best clearance of just 1.48. A new lifetime best followed in the shot putt with 12.25 and, with the 1500 to go, Talbot knew he had to give it his all to maintain that second spot, and with a time of 4:58.96 managed this by just 20 points over third place. This placing gives Talbot automatic qualification for the National Finals in Boston, Lincs in September.
Anya Turner, also fifteen years old and competing for Somerset Schools in the U17 Heptathlon, came fifth at the South West Schools Championships in Yeovil but a measure of the high standard of multi-eventers that this Region is currently producing is shown with the top five athletes from the Championships all entering the All Time Regional Top Ten Rankings, with Turner’s superb score of 4409 placing her eighth on the list, and undoubtedly these five athletes’ scores will also rank highly in the current National Age Group Heptathlon rankings once they are updated.
Turner’s first day of competition saw her run a sprint hurdles time just outside her PB in 12.23, a good high jump of 1.60 which saw only three athletes go higher, a solid shot putt of 9.72 and an excellent new lifetime best in the 200 by almost a second in 26.75, placing Turner third overall. Day two brought a good long jump of 4.93 followed by a new lifetime best of over 2m in the javelin of 34.34, and concluding with the 800 in a time just fractionally off her PB in 2:41.07. “After a difficult two days I managed to pull out three PBs but by my standards the hurdles and high jump were disappointing” said Turner. ” I was up against four tough athletes who I beat back in April but this time they had a better day than me.”
By the rules of the competition Turner, even with this high scoring final result, does not automatically qualify for the finals in September. It is the top county team of four plus the next two athletes not part of that team, so she will have to wait to see if she is one of the next six top scorers nationally who are also given places in the finals. “I’m hugely disappointed not to get through with automatic qualification” said Turner “but it has made me want to train harder for next year and focus on the areas that need improving.”
Competing for Devon Schools in the U17 Heptathlon Jessica Dobson had a successful weekend finishing eighth with a score of 3863 which included three new lifetime bests in the hurdles by over a second in 13.30, the javelin by over 2m with 24.75, and knocking 10 secs off her 800 best with 2:36.51. Dobson earns automatic qualification for the National Finals as part of Regional title-winning Devon team.
Dominic Allen was ninth in the Inter Boys Octathlon with 3562 points and included a new lifetime best in the shot putt of 11.64 and a leading javelin throw of 48.71.
Olivia Dobson did well for seventh in her first year competing in the Junior Girls Pentathlon with a 250 point increase in her total overall score of 2726 to place her ninth in the current South West rankings, and included new lifetime bests in the hurdles in 12.39, the 800 in 2:51.94, and an equal PB in the long jump of 4.58.
Jack Turner was fifteenth in his first year in the Junior Boys Pentathlon and came away with five new lifetime bests including a new best points score of 2020 and 13.68 in the hurdles, 8.47 in the shot putt, 2:32.08 in the 800, a superb new best in the long jump of 4.95, with 1.54 in the high jump.