21 July 2011
Ecstasy turned to agony for Paul Thompson (coach: Nick Price) in tonight's European Junior Championships 10,000m final, after a brilliantly brave effort in 31 degree heat saw him fall to the track and bow out of the race while in second place, and with just under 500m to go in Tallinn, Estonia (21-24 July).
After a bright start, Thompson, within a group of four, had broken clear of the rest of the field and was already ten seconds clear of his team mates David Vernon (coach: Graham Smith) and Karl Billington (coach: Arthur Almond) by 800m.
He briefly fell off the back of the pack at 2k, but was soon back in the mix and challenging for third, and with 12 laps to go was clear in second, a position he held until he noticeably tired in the last kilometre before eventually collapsing with heat exhaustion. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but is already back on his feet.
Behind him, Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland duo Vernon and Billington were engaged in their own battle, but Vernon’s decisive break in the last mile and a half saw him finish in sixth (32:13.05) with Billington in ninth (32:52.33).
“I wanted to drop out so badly,” admitted Vernon, “but I stuck at it.”
“I felt ok earlier on in the race and I was surprised that Karl (Billington) and I had gone through half way so quickly. In hindsight maybe we started off a bit too quickly, but we were running in a group and it was the right thing to do.
“That’s the hardest race I’ve ever run.”
Elsewhere, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Mike Holmes) finished day one of the Heptathlon in third place with 3511 points following marks of 10.29m in the shot putt (548 points) and a lifetime-best equalling 24.25 (957 points) in the 200m.
Consistently tough on herself, however, she was disappointed not to go inside 24 seconds in her fourth event: “Maybe I’m expecting too much, but there’s a girl clocking under 23 seconds and I’m only managing 24, so I have to be (tough on myself),” she said.
Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, the European Leader in the 200m with a National Junior Record of 22.90, clocked a quick 22.91 to move her into the half-way lead with 3702 points after recording a shot putt best of 13.47m in round three.
With temperatures hitting 33 degrees earlier in the day, conditions were also tough for Rowena Cole (coach: Norma Pugh) in the opening track event of the evening session, but the 2009 World Youth 800m bronze medallist made no mistake with victory in the first of three semi finals in 2:05.65.
“My coach said, ‘once you go, make sure you go!’ so I didn’t look back,” she said, after clocking the second fastest qualifying time overall behind Ukraine’s National Junior Record holder and European leader Anastasiya Tkachuk (2:04.98).
“It was so hot out there - my feet are burning - but I went out to qualify and I had to make sure I was in a good position at the bell so I didn’t get boxed in.”
It was equally hot for the men’s 1500m, but all three Aviva GB & NI athletes progressed to Saturday’s final led by UK number one Adam Cotton (coach: John Nuttall) in 3:50.80 to win the second semi final.
“That’s job done,” he said. “I didn’t really want to take it on, but I ended up at the front and the pace was comfortable so I just kept it there.”
It was a slightly tougher process for Charlie Grice (coach: Jon Bigg), fifth in Cotton’s race, and Cameron Boyek (coach: David Lowes), sixth in heat one, who qualified as fastest losers in 3:51.75 and 3:52.53 respectively.
“I just didn’t have enough in the last 100m,” admitted Boyek. “I was in a good position at the bell when the pace picked up and I was ok with that, but they kicked again with 100m to go and I didn’t have enough strength to stay with them. They made it look easy, they may not have felt it was easy, but the guys at the front looked good.”
After a round one warm-up this morning, it was also good news in the women’s 100m where Jodie Williams (coach: Mike McFarlane) scorched to a season’s best time for victory in semi final two (11.33/-1.3m/s) and Marilyn Nwawulor (coach: Harry King) clocked 11.71 (-0.5m/s) for second in the first semi final.
“I’d have liked to have gone a bit faster but it’s ok, I’m in the right shape to PB so hopefully tomorrow will be the day,” said World Junior Champion Williams. “Going into the final with a season’s best is good and I’m really looking forward to it; all of this is just a great experience.”
In the men’s 100m, the British trio all qualified automatically and in doing so clocked three of the five quickest times in round one.
Heat three winner Adam Gemili (coach: John Blackie) was the second quickest overall with 10.49 (-0.7m/s) behind heat one winner and European Lead Jimmy Vicaut of France with a lifetime best mark of 10.12 (-1.8m/s).
“I’m really starting to get passionate about athletics,” said Gemili, a semi-professional footballer with Dagenham & Redbridge. “It’s great to have three in the final, isn’t it? It’s what we were hoping for. I was looking for a bit quicker but I ran my own race and I’m into the final which is the important thing.”
UK number one David Bolarinwa (coach: John Powell), the Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist in 2010, won semi final two in 10.55 (-0.5m/s), the third fastest of the evening: “I felt alright, I just wanted to do my own thing. I saw what the French guy (Vicaut) did in the first heat but I didn’t let that phase me, it’s about qualifying today and the times will come in the final.”
Sam Watts (coach: Gladys Bird) was fifth fastest when finishing second in the first heat in 10.66 (-1.8m/s).
Continuing the impressive qualification statistics for the Aviva GB & NI team, James McLachlan (coach: Denis Costello) progressed to tomorrow’s long jump final with a best effort of 7.34m (-1.3m/s) in the third and final round of qualifying: “I had myself worried,” he admitted, “but it’s good to know that I can pull one out the bag when it matters. The headwind interrupted my run up on the first two jumps so I really had to focus and tell myself that the distance I needed was what I was jumping quite regularly all season.”
There was also an automatic qualifying spot for Katie Byres (coach: Julien Raffalli) in the pole vault with a height of 4.10m (the final is on Saturday), while in the triple jump, Ahtollah Rose (coach: Keith Hunter), after two no-jumps, recorded 12.57 (-0.8m/s) in the final round to make it through to tomorrow’s final.
Two out of the three Aviva GB & NI women’s 400m representatives progressed to tomorrow’s quarter-lap final, with a new lifetime best of 53.87 by Lucy James (coach: Nick Dakin) the pick of the performances: “I’m really happy to run a PB in the heat,” she said. “I’ve figured that the best way for me to race is to go out steady and now that I’m into the final, anything can happen.”
Katie Kirk (coach: Mark Kirk), second in heat one and second quickest Brit with 54.31 also made it through, but Kirsten McAslan (coach: Trevor Painter), in spite of running a quick 54.16 - her second best ever performance over the distance - missed out after finishing outside of the automatic qualifying positions in fourth in heat two.
Also in the 400m and following a career best 47.35 in heat one, Jarryd Dunn (coach: Keith Holt) qualified for tomorrow’s 400m final as a fastest loser in fifth from semi final two (47.51), while in the javelin Richard Shuttleworth (coach: Bronwin Carter) progressed to the final with a best distance of 70.73m but unfortunately his Aviva GB & NI team mate Joe Dunderdale (coach: David Parker) missed out after recording 66.97m.
The European Junior Championships will be shown daily on Eurosport - 17:00-18:25 tomorrow - in addition to being streamed live by European Athletics through their website at www.european-athletics.org.
Daily session reports will be published on the UKA website: www.uka.org.uk