14 July 2011
Following a powerful mid-session storm which delayed the start of the proceedings, the European Under-23 Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic (14-17 July) re-commenced in wet and slightly cooler conditions which were well suited to the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes who maintained their 100%record in qualification.
800m duo Lynsey Sharp (coach: Dave Sunderland) and Mukhtar Mohammed (coach: Mustafa Mohamed) set the standard in the first track events of the evening programme.
Sharp, a semi finalist at the 2007 IAAF World Youth Championships at the same venue, led the field through the bell in a relatively conservative and comfortable pace before stepping it up in the latter stages to finish second with 2:04.58, the fourth fastest time overall going into tomorrow’s final.
“It was a really good race in the end,” said the Edinburgh AC athlete who had anticipated a burn-up over the last 400m after a slow opening lap; “I knew that (fast finish) was going to happen and I was able to move through the gears quite easily.”
Mukhtar Mohammed (coach: Mustafa Mohamed) was equally, if not more impressive in the men’s 800m, going through halfway in 53 seconds and clocking 1:48.20 at the finish, also the fourth quickest time in qualifying. “It was good, I stayed behind the leaders and ran a tactical race,” he said. “I had planned to go with 300m to go but they were pushing it on so I just sat in, and when I kicked in the last 100m I felt ok.”
Not surprisingly, European Indoor 800m Champion Adam Kszczot, number one in the European under-23 rankings, took the men’s first heat victory in 1:49.43 after leading from the gun, but it was heat two winner Kevin Lopez of Spain who clocked the fastest mark of the first round with 1:47.43 after an explosive 52-second first lap.
In the 400m, and following on from the flawless performances of their Aviva GB & NI 400mH team mates this morning, Luke Lennon-Ford (coach: Linford Christie) and Nigel Levine (coach: Simon Duberley) - the top two in Europe - also made it through their respective heats as winners.
Top-ranked Lennon-Ford eased down to 46.60, the sixth best time overall, while second ranked Levine, the 2009 silver medallist in this event, recorded 46.22 to go into the final as quickest.
“I felt good, really comfortable,” said European number one Lennon-Ford. “The whole plan was to get to 250m and see where I was; I was leading and I knew I had it.”
James Alaka (coach: Clarence Callender) and Andrew Robertson (coach: John Smith) completed a successful opening day for the Aviva GB & NI team as they made it through their 100m heats, but it was a nervous wait for Robertson after finishing fourth in qualifying from heat one with 10.54 (-0.4m/s).
“There was very little to split us up, but I haven’t run that slowly for a long time,” said Robertson who qualified for the final as the second of two fastest losers. “I got out well but something just didn’t click, I felt quite comfortable but just a bit lethargic.”
And while European number one Alaka looked classy in his finish clocking 10.49 (-0.9m/s) for the win, he was disappointed with his start: “That’s my main problem,” he said, “my start isn’t great then it really comes together.”
The European Under-23 Championships will be shown daily on Eurosport - 09.00-11.30 UK time and 16.45-18.55 tomorrow - in addition to being streamed live by European Athletics with English language commentary through their website at www.european-athletics.org.
Live streaming will also be available with Czech commentary through: www.sportzive.cz
Daily session reports will be published on the UKA website: www.uka.org.uk