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BELGRADE 2017: DAY TWO - MORNING SESSION

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Ashley Bryant
4th March 2017


British Athletics team captain Ashley Bryant (coach: Aston Moore) put together two strong performances to move into second place in the men’s Heptathlon, ahead of further competition later today and tomorrow.

Bryant opened with a personal best of 7.06 over 60m for 861 points, while fellow multi-eventer Liam Ramsay (Mike Corden) clocked 7.12 for 840 points in the second of the two heats.

Less than half an hour later the pair took to the infield for the Long Jump, Bryant’s best of 7.66m – also the furthest distance from the heptathlon group - saw him move into second place overall, with Ramsay finishing the morning in 14th after jumping 6.81m.  Both will return for the Shot Put and High Jump later this evening.

Defending champion Richard Kilty (Michael Khmel) began the defence of his 60m European Indoor title in solid fashion, with 6.61 enough to see him take the victory in his heat.

On safe passage to this evening’s semi-finals, Kilty said: “It was a slow start, but I put my foot on the gas for 20m and then eased off – there’s definitely at least another tenth I can take off. With the adrenaline my reactions will get quicker; now I’ll relax before later, but I loved it out there.”

Senior debutant Theo Etienne (Ryan Freckleton) joins Kilty in the semi-finals after a strong start and an assured finish took him to the win in 6.62.

Post-race he commented: “I’m as confident as I ever have been, but I just have to treat the rounds like any other race – we’re all here for a reason, and I just want to perform and show everyone that I deserve to be here. Obviously the semi-final this evening will be a lot harder, so I’m going to keep my head down and rest up a little before then.”

Andrew Robertson (Sam Robertson) ensured it was three wins from three heats for the British male sprinters as a comfortable 6.66 saw him get the job done in the fourth and final heat.

I didn’t get out well at all! At the finish I slowed it down a little too, but I think I definitely missed about a tenth due to my start – I was left in the blocks big time.” he said.

“I’m really happy generally though; I know I’m good shape so I just had to nail that heat, and based on the starts yesterday I knew I had to be a bit careful. I always seem to run better when there are rounds put together in one day, so it’s onwards to the semi-finals now.”

Asha Philip (Steve Fudge) breezed through the last of the five 60m heats with minimal trouble in the women’s 60m, as a strong start out of the blocks allowed her to wind down slightly to post 7.25 for the victory ahead of tomorrow evening’s semi-finals.

She said: “”I saw the German girl [Burghardt] went full tilt in heat one, so I thought ‘ok, I don’t want to kill myself out there’, but obviously I knew I wanted to win the heat, so I just pushed on – I knew she [Lisa Mayer, German] was coming for me but I got out well. There are still things to work on – maybe I relaxed a little – but now it’s about trying to qualify for the final.”

In the women’s Long Jump, it took just one jump for Lorraine Ugen (Shawn Jackson) to secure her spot in tomorrow evening’s final, as the World Indoor bronze medallist sailed out to a season’s best of 6.80m in impressive fashion, with home favourite Ivana Spanovic going out to 7.03m directly afterwards to set up what promises to be a highly entertaining final.

For Jazmin Sawyers (Kelly Sotherton), a third round best of 6.54m was enough to see her join Ugen in the final after finishing as the seventh best jumper in the qualifying pool.

In the men’s High Jump, Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Caan) and Allan Smith (Bryan Roy) safely secured spots in tomorrow’s final. Olympic medallist Grabarz sat the competition out until the bar was at 2.21m, first time clearances at both that height and 2.25m were sufficient to secure non-automatic qualification following a string of failures from the rest of the field at 2.28m.

Grabarz spoke afterwards, saying: “I made it hard work and took extra jumps I didn’t want to take, but I’m through to the final and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“I was totally in control until I messed one up at 2.28.  I was really concentrating hard early on, but it was 50 odd minutes before I took a jump - although I was expecting that given the amount of athletes - but I’m too experienced to use that as an excuse.  I’m through and now looking forward to tomorrow.”

Smith joins Grabarz in the final following an impressive series which saw him go clear at 2.16m, 2.21m and 2.25m at the first time of asking.

Ahead of the final he said: “I’m very pleased, it’s my first European final, so that’s progress.  That was probably the easiest 2.25m of my life."

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Chris Kandu (Fuzz Caan), as despite going agonisingly close at 2.28m and clearing 2.25m, the 21-year-old exited the competition following a tenth place finish in the qualifying round due to previous failed attempts.