Spain and Great Britain the favourites for the DNA U20 Indoors match
20 February 2023
Many of Europe’s top teenage talents will embark on their bid for glory at this summer’s European Athletics U20 Championships with an outing in their national colours at the European Athletics DNA U20 Indoors international match in Madrid on Wednesday (22).
Hosts Spain – hoping to build on their success after winning the inaugural DNA international match for senior athletes in Glasgow, Great Britain just over 12 months ago – and Great Britain will have an especially strong teams in action in the six-nation contest at the Centro Polideportivo Municipal Gallur indoor arena in the Spanish capital.
The opening event, the mixed 4x400m, should see the two expected main protagonists, along with France, for the honours.
France will field Alan Lacroix who clocked 47.63 in the French championships at weekend while Spain have the 2022 European U18 champion David Garcia, who clocked a Spanish U20 indoor record of 46.65 on Saturday, in their team.
However, both teams might potentially be trumped by the strength in depth of the Great Britain quartet which has Etty Sisson, fourth in the European Athletics U18 Championships 400m and a medal relay gold medallist in Jerusalem, as well as 2022 British U20 400m indoor champion Ashley Nemits who has clocked 54.17.
A fascinating three-way battle is in store in the women’s 60m with Ireland’s Lucy-May Sleeman leading the way having clocked 7.35 last month.
However, the Irish sprinter will come up against British sprinter Renee Regis, who won a 100m bronze at last summer’s European Athletics U18 Championships and gold in the medley relay, and Spain’s Elena Guiu, a finalist in the 2022 World U20 100m, and both these women have improved to 7.39 over 60m this year.
The presence of France’s Grace Tade, with a best of 7.46, also adds further intrigue to this closely matched event.
By contrast, Great Britain’s Medwin Odamitten and is the clear favourite for the men’s 60m event having run his personal best of 6.67 on no less than three occasions since the start of the year – and features in the world top 10 this winter for U20 sprinters – but could the famously fast Gallur track see him make a further improvement as well as grab maximum points?
A terrific head-to head duel could be in prospect in the men’s 60m hurdles with Great Britain’s Daniel Goriola up against Portugal’s Sisano Ambriz, who have clocked 7.72 and 7.76 respectively over the U20 barrier height of 99cm.
France’s Oscar Dugue, with a best of 7.86, is also not too far behind the leading pair on paper and could challenge them for the points.
Great Britain’s Meg Corker – who will have her first ever overseas race in comparison to many of her compatriots who have international experience – appears to be the one to watch in the women’s 60m hurdles with a best time of 8.42.
The outstanding name on the start line of the women’s 800m is of Czech Republic’s Adela Holubova, who has been battling her senior counterparts in domestic competition all winter and improved to 2:06.37 when finishing third in the Czech senior championships on Sunday.
The mixed 2x2x200m might also provide an opportunity for Czech success with their pair of runners including last year’s European U18 silver medallist Lurdes Gloria Manuel.
In the field events, the head-to-head nature of the competition has often generated upsets in DNA competitions but in terms of performance and sheer competitive spirit the two name that stands out in the men’s high jump are Spain’s Pablo Martinez, who won the Spanish senior title and improved to 2.12m on Saturday, and Czech Republic’s Matyas Cudly who cleared 2.10m at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Hustopece earlier this month.
Spain also have the in-form Javier Cruz in the men’s shot put, having thrown the U20 6kg implement 17.68m earlier this month and he has sent the senior implement almost as far this winter.
However, Great Britian’s Issac Deleny is returning to the sort of form he showed last summer when he putted a massive 18.47m and he reached 17.43m recently to take the British U20 indoor title.
Ireland’s Elizabeth Ndidi is the favourite for the women’s long jump after her national U20 record of 6.42m recently and she is currently number three in the 2023 world U20 lists.
Ndidi leapt 6.28m to win the Irish senior national title on Sunday but, once again, Spain could also have a say in the destination of the points in an event where tactics could come into play, having named 2022 European U18 bronze medallist Laura Martinez, who has a best of 6.28m, in their team.
This all leaves The Hunt – men’s 600m, women’s 400m, men’s 200m and women’s 800m – where the staggered start is calculated on the basis of the points accumulated in the previous 10 events.
Form on paper points towards Great Britain and Spain possibly being closely matched throughout the two-hour meeting and they could start The Hunt with very little time difference between them.
It would be no surprise if there a neck-and-neck battle all the way to the line in Madrid to determine who triumphs at the inaugural DNA U20 Indoors international match.