The Biennial European Athletics U20 Championships.
Report – Paul Bearman.
These Championships were held in Boras, Sweden and are for the very best European athletes who are 19 years of age or under.
Stratford AC’s UK U20 and U23 Shot gold medallist Lewis Byng and U20 110m Hurdles silver medallist Jack Sumners were selected on the strength of them meeting the stringent qualifying standards.
After the team travelled to Sweden prior to the competition for a couple of days to acclimatise to the hot conditions, Sumners lined up for his heat and after a nervous start he powered through the field to finish 2nd in his heat equalling his PB of 13.66s and qualifying for the semifinal, stacked with some of Europe’s top young hurdlers.
With his nerves and apprehension under control, Jack lined up for the semifinal but things didn’t go quite according to plan and he finished outside of the top 8 in 11th place overall from the 2 semi finals. His time of 13.87s was just one tenth of a second outside of qualifying for the final that was eventually won by GB’s Josh Zeller.
Sumners said afterwards “I’m disappointed because I thought I could qualify for the final but overall I’m happy with the way it went in my fist major competition for GB”.
Lewis Byng lined up alongside other huge athletes in the shot and in his heat threw 18.61m to qualify for the final. According to UKA’s statistician Ian Hodge, Lewis remarkably became Britain’s first EU20 finalist in the Men’s Shot since 1989, when Matt Simson took bronze.
There was no similar medal glory for Byng and after a steady series of throws he finished in 8th place. With him being the youngest in the competition, the experience will definitely serve him well in his future career at this level of competition.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland topped the medal table and Scott Grace, GB’s joint team manager said afterwards “sometimes it is easy to forget how amazing it is to be selected to represent GB & NI at any event and the team all achieved this”.
He reiterated that “the champs provided a massive highlight in the athletes career so far and for some, things didn’t turn out as they hoped they would but that everyone should remember on how many people were born in the same years as the 69 strong team and that the athletes were the very best and good enough to be one of the few selected to represent their country”.