13 July 2012
Friday morning offered a challenge to all athletes competing at the IAAF World Junior Championships in the form of searing heat, burning sun and a persistent headwind, but the members of the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team didn’t let conditions affect their performances as some remarkable results were recorded.
Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Mike Holmes), who will be competing for a long jump medal later this evening, showed just why she is held in such high regard by speeding to a new Personal Best in the first round of the 100m hurdles. KJT set a time of 13.48s to clinch second behind highly-rated Russian Ekaterina Bleskina and progress to the semi-finals. Impressively, this time was achieved with a headwind of 0.7sm/s, a factor that makes Johnson-Thompson’s performance stand out even more.
“My previous PB was in a very strong headwind, so I knew a good time was coming once conditions improved” beamed Johnson-Thompson. “But it’s nice to know I am actually worth these performances as opposed to just having them in my head!”
Even a final in a different event coming this afternoon doesn’t bother the talented youngster; “Everyone is telling me how busy this day will be, but as an heptathlete I am used to seven events over two days! However I will need to rest today – it has been an early start this morning and I want to be at my best for the long jump.”
Steeplechaser Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon) had to sweat a bit more for his place in the 3000m SC final – quite literally, as his 11am race saw him run in Mediterranean conditions quite unlike the ones normally experienced in Britain. Seddon elected to race in energy-saving mode, already planning ahead to the final which he achieved as the fastest non-automatic qualifier.
“I knew the sort of time that would get me through to the final and I knew I needed to go as easy as I could” said the Bracknell AC athlete after finishing in 8:49.67. “Whatever pace you run it, it’s obviously going to be hard to do seven and a half laps: I saved energies, I knew that if I needed I would have had plenty to spare but there is a final to think about.”
The first night as a World Junior medallist brought enough rest to Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman) to tackle the first round of the 1500m in assured fashion, setting a new Season Best with a time of 4:14.64. After admitting last night that qualifying to the final was crucial – a pass to Sunday’s showdown means a day to recover lost energies – Judd never looked in trouble of missing out on her spot. The Chelmsford athlete let pre-event favourite Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon run off and simply controlled her pace to finish second.
“I love this track and I find it so hard getting away from it, my coach asked me if I wanted to run today and I had little trouble deciding” confessed the 17-year-old. “To get through to the final is amazing – some people are delighted to make one final, and I have made two already.”
“I got cramps during the night, but I am in the shape of my life and who knows what I could do in the final. Pressure is off, I will need to prove my worth just like I did in the 800m.”
The final will feature two British athletes after heat 3 saw a confident performance by Jennifer Walsh (Deborah Rowlands), who grabbed an automatic qualifier spot courtesy of her 4:16:08 run.
“I am pleased with that performance, especially as I was really suffering the heat. “ Walsh spent most of her race in fourth position before powering through in the last two hundred meters to claim third. “I was third in the heat rankings coming in the race and this season my finishes have been really good, so I knew I just needed to be close to the girl in front to take the automatic qualifier.”
“The final is going to be later in the afternoon on Sunday, so hopefully it will be a bit colder. I have a good day and a half to rest now. My aim here was to make the final – now that I am in, I don’t see why a top-half finish would be unrealistic.”
In the men’s 800m, Ben Waterman (Steve Mann) hoped to pick up where Jess Judd had left off, and as he helped himself to third place in the first heat he did the first step on his way to the final.
A time of 1:49.48 was enough to see off the late charge of New Zealand’s Brad Mathas, and Waterman’s position never looked in danger. “I felt a bit stiff and the first 200m were really quick” was the first reaction of the Ealing, Southall and Middlesex athlete, “The home straight was tough, but I had put myself in a good position and I managed to hold on safely.”
Waterman was in a mood to joke about the heat: “In England it rains every week and that doesn’t really prepare you for the conditions we are facing here. I have been warm weather training in the Caribbean before, but it’s still hard to adapt. I am happy I could do a few training sessions here as they really helped.”
Unfortunately, fellow 800m runner Sean Molloy bowed out in the first round, despite a strong charge that saw him almost catch up with Canada’s Tyler Smith for the last qualifying position. Molloy suffered a very fast start of the race and had to fight his way back from the bottom of the pack, leaving him with too big a task when he produced his strong finish.
Emma Buckett (Bill Jewers) and Katy Marchant (Antonio Minichiello) continued their heptathlon campaign with the long jump. Marchant scored 694 points with a 5.48m leap in group A, while Buckett nearly topped group B with a 6.15m jump worth 896 points.
These results see the British duo move up the rankings with Buckett in 13th (4127pts) and Marchant in 21st (3757pts) as they approach the two final events of their discipline, the Javelin and the 800m.
The throws events were shy of joy for the British athletes involved this morning. Shadine Duquemin (John Hillier) produced a best throw of 45.51m that earned her 11th position in her qualifying pool, but sadly no place in a final for which a minimum mark of 53m (or a top 12 overall position) was needed. Michael Painter (John Painter) was similarly unlucky in the men’s hammer qualifications, throwing 67.00m and finishing 13th in his group, and the same fate was bestowed upon Nick Miller (John Baumann): the Borders athlete, attempting to qualify from group B, didn’t record a distance in his first two throws and just edged Painter in his third with 67.46m, finishing 13th as well.
The afternoon session will see the end of the heptathlon and the debut of the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay teams. Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) will compete for the gold medal in the long jump final, while Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and David Bolarinwa will be the British athletes in action in the 200m finals.