Arena Birmingham hosts the British Indoor Championships this weekend with both Triple Jump events taking place on Saturday, February 9th. As well as the honour of being crowned British Champion, there is also the carrot of possible selection for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Glasgow for the best of British Triple Jumpers.
Women’s Competition (3.34pm):
On paper at least, reigning Champion Naomi Ogbeta heads to Birmingham as the clear favourite to take gold in Saturday’s competition, but she could still find herself facing a stiff challenge for the role of British Number 1 in this competition and throughout 2019. One of the rising young star’s of British Athletics, working under the guidance of Tom Cullen, Ogbeta’s career has moved into hyper-drive since taking her first British senior title, while still a junior, at the 2017 National Outdoor Championships. That victory was soon followed by bronze at the 2017 European U20 Championships in Grosetto, Italy, before breaking 14 metres legally for the first time last year in making the final of the European Championships in Berlin. Taking both the 2018 British Indoor and Outdoor crowns, as well as beginning the year with a new indoor PB of 13.68m to head the 2019 British Rankings, an assured performance on Saturday should seal her selection for the European Indoor Championships and the next step in her blossoming career.
With 2nd place on the current UK rankings, Jahisha Thomas, deciding to concentrate on the Long Jump at Birmingham, Ogbeta’s biggest threat in Birmingham is likely to come from 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Laura Samuel. Since taking her last British title in 2016 and appearing at the European Championships that year, Samuel has battled a series of injuries that have hindered her return to 14 metre territory. At last year’s British Outdoor Championships in Birmingham, however, she demonstrated that she still has the ability to challenge for the position of British Number 1, with only a marginal foul around 14 metres denying her another possible British crown and place at the 2018 European Championships. The fact that she is jumping indoors this season, something that injuries have prevented since taking her last British Indoor title in 2015, is an encouraging sign that Samuel may threaten 14 metres again in 2019 and set up a healthy rivalry with Ogbeta at the top of British Women’s Triple Jumping.
Another athlete making a welcome return to the indoor scene is Alexandra Russell. Following her success at the 2017 British Indoor Championships, where she jumped her current PB of 13.27m, Russell missed 15 months away from the sport before reaching 13.09m on her return last summer. Having hit 13.15m already this winter, while competing in Bratislava, Slovakia, Russell looks to have wintered well and with a marginal windy (+2.2m/s) leap of 13.40w in her locker from the 2016 England Senior Championships, she is more than capable of pulling out a similar big leap in Birmingham this weekend.
Angela Barrett is the 4th jumper in Saturday’s field to have broken the 13 metre barrier this season, a feat she has achieved every year since 2013 when she jumped 13.04m to take bronze in the British Indoor Championships behind Yamilé Aldama and Sineade Gutzmore. In 2016 she took silver at the British Indoor Championships, once again behind Gutzmore, before setting her lifetime best of 13.43m in the summer of 2017. With Barrett reaching 13.32m in 2018, and beginning her 2019 campaign with a solid 13.09m last weekend in Eton, she will no doubt threaten the podium places on Saturday and could prove to be a surprise package.
Eavion Richardson made a major improvement last year, her first as a senior, as she increased her 2017 PB of 12.35m out to 13.04m while taking silver in the England Athletics U23 Championships in Bedford behind current British Number 1 Naomi Ogbeta. In just her 4th year of competing in the Triple Jump, Richardson has already jumped 12.89m in 2019 and will hope to push on to her first indoor 13 metre leap in Birmingham this weekend.
The future of Women’s British Triple Jumping looks bright with athletes such as Naomi Ogbeta and Eavion Richardson showing such good form their early senior years, but already coming through the age groups behind them are another crop of exciting junior jumpers such as Claudimira Landim and Jazz Sears. Unfortunately both of those athletes will be missing in Birmingham this weekend, but making her first British Senior Championships appearance will be Lily Hulland who last year set new a British U17 record of 12.88m. Spanish-based Hulland (in fact, this will be her first competition on British soil) has made rapid progress since a 9.99m showing when first competing at the Triple Jump in February 2016. The elder of two Triple Jumping sisters (U17 Jasmine has improved her PB out to 11.59m this winter) Lily Hulland progressed to 12.09m by the summer of 2017 and last year became a consistent mid-12 metre jumper before breaking Naomi Ogbeta’s National U17 record of 12.61m from 2014. That earned her selection for the European U18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary, where she qualified for the final on her debut in a British International vest. Already reaching 12.47m this winter, hopefully Hulland can embrace the atmosphere at Birmingham to take another step on her upwards journey in the Triple Jump.
Originally from the United States, Allison Wilder was leaping 13 metres as far back as 2010 (13.13i) when competing for the University of California before hitting 13.22m outdoors in 2011. A consistent mid-12 metre jumper over recent years since moving to the UK, she was close to her best again last winter reaching 12.96m indoors. Beginning this year with 12.29m in the South of England Championships, she will look to move up another gear in the National Championships this weekend.
Luton’s Shanara Hibbert already has 2 senior titles under her belt this winter following victories at the South of England (12.50m) and Eastern (12.22m) Indoor Championships over recent weeks. Although only dedicating herself to the event since 2016, when she reached a best of 12.51m, Hibbert started 2017 in great form hitting 12.87m in April that year, but that remains her lifetime best to date. She returned to good form at the end of the 2018 season, hitting 12.82m at the Manchester International Match in August, so hopefully can demonstrate that kind of form again this year beginning with jumping to her undoubted potential in Birmingham this weekend.
As a promising junior under the guidance of John Herbert, Laura Zialor managed 4th place in the 2016 British Indoor Championships before hitting 12.96m at the BIG ish Jump Festival in Bedford that summer. A jump good enough to lead the British U20 Outdoor Rankings that year. Unfortunately, beset by injuries, Zialor has since been restricted in approaching that level of performance again with her 2018 season ending in May. However, beginning 2019 with a promising 12.42m when taking silver at the South of England Indoor Championships (her longest jump since 2016) bodes well for the Marshall Milton Keynes athlete’s return to top form this year .
Second year junior Mayi Hughes took two National bronze medals in 2018, jumping 11.79m at the England Athletics U20 Indoor Championships in Sheffield before improving her PB to 12.40m at the English Schools Championships in Birmingham. Jumping 12.35m when taking silver at the London Indoor Games at Lee Valley in January this year, her first appearance in the senior British Indoor Championships could be the perfect opportunity to challenge her PB and add to her credentials as one the most promising junior British Triple Jumpers around.
Former Heptathlete Chloe Vernon Hamilton only began Triple Jumping last May while in her late 20s, reaching a best of 12.03m in 2018 under the tutelage of former British athletes John Herbert and Mike McFarlane. Further improvement this winter to 12.24m at the South of England Indoor Championships is an indication that drawing on her previous athletics experiences and current advice at hand, further progress is more than likely this year and Birmingham Arena offers the ideal opportunity for the next step in her Triple Jump journey.