Jessie Knight on her way to a league record at Eton (credit: James Rhodes)
Jessie Knight on her way to a league record at Eton (credit: James Rhodes)

Jessie Knight and Keely Hodgkinson highlight final NAL round

The first season of the National Athletics League came to a successful conclusion last weekend with a string of top-drawer performances.

Top of the bill was the women’s 400m hurdles at Eton where Nicole Kendall, who had set two league records this year, came up against Olympian and British No.1 Jessie Knight.

Knight (WSEH), who had recently improved her PB on her return from Tokyo to 54.23, produced another great performance with 54.81, taking more than a second from Kendall’s league mark despite a strong breeze.

“My body feels like it’s the end of the season and they were not the best conditions, so I’ve got to be pleased with a time which would have been a PB last season,” said Knight.

Kendall (TVH), who had had three wins out of three this season in the league, had to be content with second in 56.35.

Olympic 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson added a touch of class to the match in Nottingham, stepping down to 400m to compete as a guest.

Despite limited competition, the Leigh Harrier took more than a second from her PB with 52.61 — a time beaten by only one other European U20 in 2021. Her coach, Trevor Painter, who talked to us last week about Hodgkinson’s reasons for running the 400m in Nottingham, had predicted a sub-53 time for the European indoor champion.

At the Championships North match in Liverpool, discus thrower Kirsty Law (Sale) moved up to seventh on the UK all-time list with 60.13m, adding 18cm to her best.

Back to the one-lap hurdles, which have been great spectacle in the league this year, guesting Efe Okoro had his second best-ever result with 49.79 for victory at Hendon. Meanwhile, UK No.1 Chris McAlister switched to the flat at Eton for a winning PB of 46.40.

In Hendon, UK steeplechase champion Mark Pearce duly claimed the win in his event 8:49.67. Over the 110m hurdles at the same venue, Harrow’s Miguel Perera matched his PB with 13.85, although no wind speed has been shown, as he beat the 13.87 of Portugal’s Edson Gomes (SB).

The throws were, as usual, a strong area, especially at Hendon. Chris Bennett (SB) was over 74m for the ninth time this year with 74.16m. Youcef Zatat (WG) won the shot with 17.14m and Nick Percy (SB) threw 60.12m to win the discus. UK No.6 Katie Head advanced her PB with 65.39m in the hammer in North London too.

Meanwhile, south of the river, British No.2 Amelia Strickler (TVH) was out to 17.58m for the shot win and clubmate Pippa Wingate produced a PB of 64.06m to do likewise in the hammer.

In Yate, the home side’s high jumpers were on song with Adam Brooks adding a centimetre to his PB with 2.17m and Luke Ball adding 7cm to his UK under-17 lead with 2.10m.

We are still awaiting results of two matches. The rest can be found here.

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