08 July 2011
Zak Seddon (coach: Jeff Seddon) was the pick of the day for an Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team that showered emotions and thrills to all supporters in the afternoon session of day 3 of the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lille, France. The Bracknell AC athlete, involved in the 2000m steeplechase final, gave a real scare to a field packed of Africans and set an excellent new personal best with a time of 5:40.62.
In a race where Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto and Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui were on a different planet from the rest of the competitors - Kipruto set a new World leading performance with a hair-raising 5:28.65 - Seddon stuck with the main group of pursuers and for most of the race looked capable of clinching what would have been an historic bronze medal. Only the final 150m after the last water jump made a difference between the British athlete and Zacharia Kiprotich of Uganda and Jaouad Chemlal of Morocco, the Ugandan athlete producing a great sprint to claim third place.
A completely depleted Seddon was elated at his performance following the race:
"That was really hard, I wanted to go for it but I had gone very hard before. I am really pleased with my race, fifth in the world and with a PB - it's great to get one on this stage, the World Championships, and in a field full of good athletes."
Seddon was not the only British athlete to turn in some outstanding performances in today's afternoon session; three other athletes all produced the goods and are in serious contention for medals in the remainder of these Championships.
Jazmin Sawyers (Tony Williams) resumed her heptathlon campaign with the shot put. Placed fifth after the morning session, the City of Stoke athlete opened her account with a 9.03m throw, improving her distance to 10.07 with her second attempt and finishing tenth in Group B. The result meant Sawyers approached the last event of the day, the 200m, with a total of 2410 points - 179 off leader Yusleidys Mendieta. The British athlete set a new personal best in one of her strongest events, stopping the clock at 25.24s and winning her heat by a wide margin. The results confirms her solid fifth place - with long jump, Sawyers favourite event, opening the heptathlon programme tomorrow.
"It's definitely not a bad place to be" said Sawyers about her day 1 performance, "some of the events, like the high jump, could have been a bit better: I was on first time clearances until 1.75m, and then I couldn't do that. In the shot put, I was a bit worried after my first round, but doing 10m in the second put my mind at rest."
"I am looking forward to my strongest piece, the long jump, tomorrow. It's definitely not bad to be in fifth after day 1."
The 800m semi-finals saw two British athletes, Jessica Judd (Jeremy Williams) and Katie Snowden (James McDonald), battling for access to Sunday's final. Both girls made it through their races with flying colours, showing a confidence and composure usually only found in much older and experienced athletes. In the second of three semi-finals, Snowden fought her way through a five-strong pack to claim an emphatic win in 2:05.67 - just short of a new personal best - beating number one World ranked athlete Amy Weissenbach in the process.
"I slowed down a bit in the last 100m, saving a bit of energy as I want to give everything I have in the final. I felt really good, the Jamaican went out really hard and I just kept behind her; we went through 400m in 60 seconds, I kept with them and then really pushed in the second lap. I was relaxed and could go all the way at the end."
"I am really looking forward to the final. I am really excited, I will need to relax well before Sunday"
For Judd, the race was all about control as she put in her trademark strong start to leave all other athletes trailing in her wake. Only Ajee Wilson of the USA stuck with the British athlete and, with two competitors guaranteed a place in the final, Judd eased off in the last 200m and finished in 2:03.80 as Wilson went to set a new PB.
"I got pushed a bit at the start, but I guess that comes with it being an 800m. I never thought I'd make it to the final, it was my main aim and to get in is just amazing. On Sunday, I'll just give everything I have - and leave with no regrets."
"I saw Katie's race before, she ran amazingly and she gave me so much confidence, she controlled it so well - it was such an amazing performance. It's great to have two British girls in the 800m finals, anything can happen."
Tomorrow sees another full day for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, with five athletes in a quest for medals during finals. Lucy Bryan (Neil Winter) competes in the Pole Vault at 4:05pm, while much-anticipated showdowns await Hayley McLean (Steve Mitchell) in the 400m hurdles, where she enters as second in the semi-final rankings (5:45pm); Louisa James (Ron James) and Kimberley Reed (Alan Bertram), currently third and sixth in the hammer throw (5:45pm); and 1500m runner Georgia Peel (Mick Woods), who truly impressed in the first rounds and will hope to leave a mark in an extremely competitive field (6:15pm). Tomorrow will also feature Desiree Henry (Mike McFarlane) who, after today's outstanding PB in the 200m, will face the semi-finals with a look at booking a place in the final eight.
Full results can be found on the IAAF website.