Newham Beagles Jade O'Dowda puts herself in pole position

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by British Athletics Freya Jones

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by British Athletics Freya Jones of Great Britain competes in the Women's Javelin Throw during Day Two of the Muller British Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on September 05, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by British Athletics - Handout/British Athletics via Getty Images) - Credit: British Athletics via Getty Imag

Newham & Essex Beagles Jade O'Dowda has put herself in the driving seat for a place in next year's England Commonwealth Games squad after clinching the women's national heptathlon title last weekend in Bedford.

The 21-year-old totalled a new personal best of 6044 points, well past the 5850 English Athletics qualifying mark for Birmingham 2022, and managed to see off nearest challenger Ellen Barber (Yeovil AC), who also achieved the games standard, by just 16 points after two days of fierce multi-event competition. It was also the first time that two women had scored over 6000 in these championships.

A delighted O’Dowda, who this year joined the Stratford-based club from her childhood Oxford City AC and also claimed the Under-23 title to rubber stamp her GB ticket to Tallinn, Estonia for the European U23 Championships which begin next week (July 8-11), told English Athletics website: "I was really happy with it. It was a really, really good two days. Solid events all the way through, some PBs on the way so I can’t complain.  

“The Euro U23s is the same standard as the Commonwealths, 5850. Going into it, I knew that 6000 points was possible so I was just after that.”

Clubmate Freya Jones, another with Birmingham 2022 ambitions, was in European Team Championships action for GB & NI in Silesia, Poland where she threw a third-place best 54.68m in the women's javelin which was won by Germany's Christin Hussong with a championship record 69.19m, with Jona Aigouy from France second (56.59m).

"I’m so happy to be winning points for the team," said the 27-year-old. "It makes me feel so good. This is a Team Champs, so although I wanted to do well individually, it meant a lot to be fighting for the team.

"I’m not so happy with the performance as I was really hoping for the Commonwealth Games standard. I started off with a bang with 54m, and I’ve been quite consistent with that all season. I think it was the roar of the Polish fans that got me so excited.

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"Hopefully in the next month before British Champs I can hone in on everything and see what I need to work on to try and get that gold medal at the Champs."

GB finished the seven-nation event in third with 174 points while hosts Poland retained their title with 181.5 points and Italy a close second with 179 points.