Stratford youngsters compete with Euro elite

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Jack Sumners, left, and Lewis Byng, right, with former Stratford AC athlete Charlie Burn, who was working as a team manager at the championships in Sweden.

ATHLETICS

STRATFORD AC’s Lewis Byng and Jack Sumners finished among the top 12 in their respective events at the European U20 Championships in Borås, Sweden.

The biennial event is for the very best European athletes who are 19 years of age or under.

Byng, the UK U20 and U23 champion, was ranked 11th among the entries for the shot put but advanced to the final after throwing 18.61 metres in the qualifying round. In so doing, he became Britain’s first finalist in the men’s shot put at the European U20 Championships since 1989.

With a consistent series of throws in the final, Byng finished in eighth place with a best of 18.70m. Byng was the youngest of the 12 men in the final and he will have another full season as an U20 athlete in 2020.

After a nervous start in his 110m hurdles heat, Sumners powered through the field to finish second in a wind-assisted 13.66 seconds to qualify for the semi-final, stacked with some of Europe’s top young sprint hurdlers.

With his nerves and apprehension under control for the semif-inal, Sumners ran 13.87 – his second-fastest legal time ever – but narrowly missed out on making the final by just 0.08, placing 11th overall from the two semi-finals. The final was eventually won by Britain’s Josh Zeller.

“I’m disappointed because I thought I could qualify for the final,” said Sumners. “But overall I’m happy with the way it went in my fist major competition for Great Britain.”

As they did in 2013 and 2015, Great Britain and Northern Ireland topped the medals table.