10 July 2012
The Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team opened its medal account at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona thanks to a spirited bronze medal performance by 3000m runner Emelia Gorecka (coach: Mick Woods).
The Aldershot, Farnham and District athlete, pitched in a very competitive field, took matters into her own hands at the halfway point and led for the remainder of the race. It was only a massive effort in the last 200m that allowed Kenya’s Mercy Chebwogen and Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan to overcome the British athlete, who however had no regrets about her brave race strategy.
“I'm used to being out there in front,” Gorecka said, wrapped in a Union Jack flag. “The pace had started to slow down mid race so I thought it was the right time to get to the front and hold on. I know I have a strong finish, I knew the other leading girls did too, but I didn’t want to leave the race open to one-lap wonders so I chose to make it hard for everyone.”
Emelia Gorecka’s finishing time was 9:09.43, a season's best and a time that makes the achievement of third place even sweeter. “I came here for a medal and I got one in an event that is traditionally very difficult for British athletes. I hope this can be the start of a trend, for this World Championships team and for those that will come later.”
The newly decorated long distance runner will now decide whether to compete in the second event she is entered for in these Championships, the 5000m tomorrow evening.
“The 3000 was the distance I wanted to nail, I will need to discuss it with my coach. I have a medal now, I will see how I feel before I take a decision,” she said.
Laura Muir (Andy Young) was caught out by the mid-race change of pace and battled to keep contact with the leading pack before losing ground and running the last few laps solo. The Scottish athlete’s performance resulted in a time of 9:40.81 and earned her 16th position.
The third finalist of the day, Sophie McKinna (Geoff Capes), replicated this morning’s form by opening with a strong throw that fell just 2cm short of the 16m mark. In a competition that German Shanice Craft made hers from the start - her winning throw, 17.15m, was her opener - McKinna, who this time last year was still competing in Youth age group competitions, held fourth place for the majority of the event, but could not reply to some impressive throws by China’s Yang Gao and Ka Bian, who occupied the rest of the podium places.
The Great Yarmouth athlete was philosophical about her performance, which saw her finish in sixth place (from a position of eighth in the World rankings).
“Everyone wants to win, but there can only be one winner. Coming sixth, to me, is not a fantastic performance; but I tried my hardest and that is all I could do.”
“Every day is a different day, so on another occasion perhaps a PB would have been possible. You have to experience defeat to become a better athlete, and I still have plenty of time as a Junior in front of me.”
In the first round of the 100m there was no trouble for Sophie Papps (Neil Dodson) and Rachel Johncock (Philip Oliver) as they both sailed through their heats with relative ease.
Papps clocked a time of 11.59s to win her race, showing confidence and overcoming a shaky start to finish 0.12s above her PB. “I did not want to run that fast in the first round, but with my poor start I had to make sure I got through. I feel a PB is definitely on the cards, I feel really good at the moment - and I want it in the final, not the semi!”
“I was a bit disappointed by the way the race started but I came back strongly to get a place in the semi-finals” said Papps; “I did the job I came here to do, I'm here to get a medal. The track is really nice, I swear it didn’t feel like 100m, it is a really fast surface.”
It was exactly the opposite for Rachel Johncock, who went out of the blocks fast only to slightly fall back in the pack towards the end. The Welsh sprinter, however, held on to third to claim a place in the next round in what amounts to her first major Championship.
“It was an amazing experience, it is actually the first time ever I've competed abroad, so to qualify for a semi-final is incredible.”
“I got off well, the pace was good and I need to get ready to do the same tomorrow if I want a spot in the final.”
The field-event duo of Nick Percy (John Hillier) and Elliot Safo (John Shepherd) also secrured their final spots.
Discus thrower Percy, who is chasing a new PB above 60m, missed out on the automatic qualifying standard set at 59.40m, but his best throw of 56.89m was sufficient to claim tenth place in the overall rankings. With most qualifying performances by his rivals being on the 58m mark, a performance around Percy’s personal best might be sufficient to claim a medal in Thursday’s final.
Long jumper Safo was within three centimeters of his personal best, although with a wind-assisted performance; his 7.62m jump allowed the Croydon athlete to qualify in seventh position, with a realistic possibility of a strong placement in tomorrow’s final.
Now that the medal account is open, the expectations for the remaining finals rise high. First out tomorrow in the quest for honours will be the 800m duo of Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman) and Emily Dudgeon (Stuart Hogg) as they compete in their semi-finals at 12:20 local time. In the evening session, James Gladman (James Hillier) will resume his 110m hurdles charge (18.30) and Elliot Safo will return for the long jump final (20:20) before Adam Gemili (Michael Afilaka), Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo), Sophie Papps and Rachel Johncock take care of unfinished business in the 100m (men: semi-finals 19:00, final 21:45; women: semi-finals 19:00, final 21:00).