UK Athletics today named Commonwealth heptathlon gold and bronze medallists Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the European Cup Combined Events match to be staged in Szczecin, Poland, on 7 and 8 July.
Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers) and Ennis (City of Sheffield AC) are named alongside Julie Hollman (Belgrave Harriers) and Louise Hazel (Peterborough AC) for the Women’s Super League match against reigning champions Russia, Finland, France, Greece, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine. Reserve Ros Gonse (Bedford and County AC) will stand by in case Hazel decides nearer the time to concentrate on the European Under 23 Championships heptathlon in Debrecen, Hungary, the following week.
Toni Minichiello, the UKA Combined Events Management Group Chair who is also Ennis’s personal coach, said: “Our best ever finish in the ‘Super Women’s’ League has been fourth, which we achieved last year with Jess, Louise, Ros and Phyllis Agbo. This year we have got a more experienced team that can challenge to win it.”
Ennis is currently ranked third in the world with her UK Under 23 record score of 6388 points at Desenzano, Italy, last month, Sotherton is eighth with her 6210 at Gotzis, Austria, while Hazel, Hollman and Gonse all scored over 5500 points at Arles, France, earlier this month.
The Norwich Union GB & NI quartet for the Men’s First League match against Belgium, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and Ukraine comprises the medallists from last weekend’s England decathlon championships – winner Ben Hazell (Basingstoke Mid Hants), runner-up Ed Dunford (Birchfield Harriers) and Kevin Sempers (Belgrave Harriers) – plus Roger Skedd (City of Stoke AC), who is third in this year’s Power of 10 national rankings introduced by UK Athletics and its governing partners as part of the campaign to drive up standards in all events in all age groups on the way to London 2012. The reserve is Dean Showler-Davis (Winchester and District AC), who is fifth in the rankings.
“This is the first time for a long time that we have been able to name five guys who are over 7000 points so early in a season,” added Minichiello.
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photos Janos Schmidt