Congratulations to Aiden Davies who last weekend at the EIS, Sheffield became England Athletics National U23 Indoor Combined Events champion and overall Senior Bronze medallist, for the second year in succession.
In an extremely hard fought competition with his training partner, Leeds Athlete James Finney, it came down to the last event, the 1000m, where Aiden just pipped him, by less than a second, to defend his championship. Aiden finished the two days of competition on 5401 points, 9 points ahead of James on 5392. Aiden added 143 points to his previous best score for the Heptathlon, whilst James bettered his previous best by an incredible 361 points, proving that their training with the TS Tracksquad in the North East, coached by Sam Stanislaus, is proving very effective.
With this points score Aiden is now placed in 11th place in the All-time UK ranking for the U23 Heptathlon.
Aiden had to be at the top of his game as Personal Best performances by both athletes were traded over the weekend. The competition started with the 60m sprint. James went in the penultimate heat and clocked a PB time of 7.16 seconds, laying down the gauntlet for Aiden, who answered this by finishing in equal second place overall in the fastest race of the day, with an equal PB time of 7.06 seconds.
The Long Jump also proved to be a good event for both athletes. James’ second jump was a big personal best of 7.02m, which was even more astonishing considering it was the first time that he had jumped off his none preferred leg after switching due to a major foot injury that put him out of action for most of 2016. Aiden answered this though with a PB jump himself of 7.15. Both athletes only took two jumps, saving themselves from any potential injury for the rest of the competition.
Onto the Shot, one of Aiden’s stronger events. Again James, set the standard by putting a PB of 11.90m. Aiden followed by setting his own PB putt, for the first time exceeding the 13m mark, with 13.01.
Aiden struggled with his opening clearances but pulled it back to finally bow out at 1.90m (an equal PB height). James on the other hand looked very strong, with opening clearance jumps all the way up to 1.99m. He just tipped the bar off at a PB height of 2.02m.
At the end of day one, Aiden was in 4th place with a score of 3100 points, 62 points ahead of James on 3038, behind Sheffield athlete Liam Ramsay (returning to competition after almost a season away), Commonwealth Silver medallist Ashley Bryant and British Indoor Heptathlon record holder John Lane.
Day 2 started with Aiden’s worse event, the 60m hurdles. Sure enough, after making a good start but then heavily clattering hurdle three, he finished the race with a disappointing time of 9.13. On the other hand, in the following heat, James had a silky smooth and extremely quick PB run of 8.41 seconds. Aiden lost 164 points to James in this one event, which put the Leeds athlete over a 100 points in the lead going into the Pole Vault, another event favoured by James.
Aiden started vaulting well but knew he had to do something special in order to try to stop James further extending his lead. After taking his opening heights quite comfortably on his usual pole, he decided to keep moving up poles sizes in order to give him a chance to pull something out of the bag. This worked to some extent clearing a slight PB height of 4.31m but moving up again to a pole that he had never vaulted off proved too much at 4.41m. James tried similar tactics himself and looked very good vaulting up to the height that Aiden failed to clear. Moving up to a height of 4.51m James also decided to try vaulting off a pole he had never used before and, in an awful twist of fate for him, cleared the bar easily on his third attempt but failed to push the pole away, which ended up taking the bar off.
This really left everything to play for going into the final event, the 1000m. This is an event that will always favour natural runner Aiden. The duelling athletes went into it with 13 seconds worth of points between the two of them with a difference of 11 seconds in their Personal best times and everything to run for. Aiden went off running his normal tactics of a quick, evenly paced race and slowly started pulling away from James and the rest of the field. Aiden finished with a near PB time of 2.39.52 whilst James could only manage a 2.52.56, which was not far from his PB.
After a nail biting wait, as both athletes knew how close they were to securing the win and qualifying for an International vest, the points were finally reconciled and Aiden was announced as the victor by a paltry 9 points.
For full details and results from the weekend see here:
As a result of winning the U23 competition, Aiden has now been selected to compete for the British Athletics Team at an International match in Prague, Czech Republic on January 28/29, where they face teams from the Czech Republic, Poland, France and Spain
Britain’s leading decathlete and Commonwealth Games Silver medallist, Ashley Bryant leads the strong team that also consists of British Record holder for the heptathlon, John Lane, and Liam Ramsay, whose win at the weekend puts him in 4th place in the all-time UK rankings for the Heptathlon, as well as Aiden.
Good luck to Aiden and the GB Team