England regained the Loughborough International title after a stunning wind-affected day of athletics at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium.
The mixed weather conditions failed to prevent a large crowd turning up to see a whole host of International athletes take to the track and field to compete in the early season competition.
Team England finished on 185 points over forty points ahead of the hosts, Loughborough who finished on 143.5. Great British Juniors (129) took the final place on the podium with Scotland, Wales and a team representing the best performers from the recent British Universities Championships also competing.
The star of the show was the British golden girl of athletics, Jessica Ennis who stormed to success in the High Jump event in front of the large gathering on HiPac Hill, clearing a final height of 1.86m.
The Heptathlon World and European Champion looked comfortable in her early leaps and drew clear from the field after GB Junior Emma Nuttall and Scotland’s Jayne Nisbet failed to clear 1.82m, ending on 1.79m.
The Sheffield athlete then finished sixth (44.49m) in the weakest of her seven regular events, the Javelin, to get some much needed practice before her first Heptathlon of the season next week in Gotzis, Austria.
The competition was Ennis’ first outdoor competition of the season after an injury spelt the end to her indoor campaign.
Loughborough had several high profile victories of their own throughout the competition with none more explosive than the fantastic display of speed and power shown by Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.
The former World Junior Champion beat a strong field including England’s James Ellington (10.12), Loughborough based Craig Pickering (10.15) and former Olympic Gold Medallist Marlon Devonish (10.19) with a wind-assisted illegal recording of 10.10s.
The 3.5m/s wind recording was heavily over the legal limit as the benefitted the sprinting times throughout the day.
However, the conditions made distance running extremely tough throughout the proceedings yet this did not stop Stevie Stockton in the 3000m from winning in a new Personal Best time of 9 minutes 8.36 seconds for Loughborough.
It was arguably the best race of the day as Stockton came back from over twenty metres behind to pip Ireland’s Mary Cullen on the finish line to finish three hundredths of a second ahead.
Loughborough also saw success in both Pole Vault competitions as British Record Holder, Kate Dennison (4.20m) and Steve Lewis (5.60m) both won.
Lewis will be elated with his return from a fractured thumb that he suffered after his pole snapped whilst competing during the indoor season. On the other hand, Dennison may however be slightly disappointed with her showing which was well below her Personal Best.
Jodie Williams, 17, extended her unbeaten run at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium storming clear of a strong field including Loughborough’s BUCS 400m Hurdles Champion Meghan Beesley in an invitational 300m
The World Junior Champion was running the experimental distance to gain some further experience and managed to brave the strong wind down the back straight to post a time of 38 seconds flat.
Williams’ training partner, Desiree Henry, 15, potentially gave the performance of the day in her invitational 200m recording a stunning victory in a wind assisted 23.52 seconds to pronounce herself onto the senior-racing scene.
Due to the conditions the time did not count as a Personal Best for the 15-year-old but the manner of the victory reminded those on the HiPAC terraces of the scintillating performance that her training partner gave in the extremely wet 2009 meeting.
The crowd who continued to brave the blustery conditions were rewarded with some stunning relay races to conclude proceedings. There were victories in 3 of the 4 relay events for England, where only GB’s Mark Lewis-Francis prevented the clean sweep as his team claimed the 4x100m, as they sealed the title.