30 June 2012
It was a mixed bag of results at the end of day four at the 21st European Athletics Championship in Helsinki.
Danny Talbot (coach: Daniel Cossins) claimed the only Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland medal – bronze in the 200m.
The men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay squads and the women’s 4x400m team all qualified for Sunday evening’s finals.
Yet there was disappointment for Lawrence Okoye (John Hillier) in the discus final and the women’s 4x100m who were disqualified for lane violation in the semi-final.
Below is a summary of the all action in both the morning and evening sessions inside the Olympic Stadium in the Finnish capital.
Day Four Morning Session
Men's 4x100m Semi-Finals
38.98 was the time the quartet of Christian Malcolm (Dan Pfaff), Dwain Chambers, James Ellington (John Powell) and Mark Lewis-Francis (Linford Christie) progressed into Saturday’s final with a storming victory.
A good work-out it proved and Malcolm echoed such sentiments.
“It was safe,” he said. “It was all about qualifying and getting round. You practice the majority of combinations on the team – as you can see today we qualified and hopefully tomorrow we can do a bit better.”
Women’s Discus Qualification
With Eden Francis (Glenys Morton) electing not to participate, Jade Nicholls (Andrew Neal) was the Aviva GB & NI team’s sole representative in the women’s discus.
A best of 51.75m only secured 11th in group A and not enough to progress through to the final. Despite not throwing her best, Nicholls was happy with her performance.
“On paper it looks poor but I ‘m happy with what I did -not panicking, not getting stressed, which is what I have been doing,” she stated. “Two out of the three I am happy with, although on paper they look poor.”
Women's 1500m Semi-Finals
There was disappointment for Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas), who was disqualified in semi-final one after stepping off the track.
The Leeds athlete was unsure as to the reason for her current predicament.
"I’ve no idea what’s going on," she said. "I have no answers, I stepped off the track about five times I don’t know what’s going on with me – a lack of confidence? A lack of belief?
"I’m much fitter than that, I don’t know what’s going on. Every time I race at the moment I feel awful."
Women's 4x100m Semi-Finals
The Aviva GB & NI 4x100m quartet of Anyika Onuora (Lloyd Cowan), Montell Douglas (Ayo Falola), Hayley Jones (Donald Moss) and Ashleigh Nelson (Michael Afilaka) were disqualified in semi-final two.
Jones’ lane violation in the third leg was the given reason. Prior to the DQ, the team were second behind Germany in a time of 43.51. The team have now dropped outside of the top 16 in the world rankings.
Men's 1500m Semi-Finals
Tom Lancashire (Normal Poole) will not be appearing in the 1500m final. A time of 3:47.80 was a long way short of his season’s best and resulted in a 10th place finish.
However, Lancashire was delighted with the progress he has made in 2012.
"I gave it my all and I gave it a good shot but it was just a real struggle today and I wasn’t quite ready for it.
"I’m proud of my progress. I’ve had a pretty tough few months and I think I’m proud of what I achieved to even get myself on the start line today. Disappointing but I did my best and that’s all I can do."
Men’s Pole Vault Qualification
Luke Cutts (Trevor Fox) failed to vault over 5.10m and his competition ended early. Cutts admitted this performance summed up his season.
"I’ve had a really bad season to be honest, it hasn’t gone well at all,” he said. “I’ve been carrying injuries, but I should come back stronger next year.
“I need to take away what I’ve done wrong today and train on it more. I’ve enjoyed being here - it’s been a good experience and will help in future competitions.”
Meanwhile in group A, Max Eaves (Alan Richardson) and Andrew Sutcliffe (Julian Raffalli-Ebezant) did not make the final cut to qualify - both achieved 5.30m.
Although, the competition didn’t go according to plan, Eaves said he will use the experience of a senior competition to his advantage in the future.
“It’s been a great experience, with the warm up and qualifying set up, which I’ve never done before. It was nice to see the top guys jump, so I got some valuable experience there.”
Men's 110m Hurdles Heats
William Sharman (Malcolm Arnold) and Gianni Frankis (Tony Jarrett) booked their places in the semi-finals but it was a different story for Richard Alleyne (Martey Newman).
Sharman’s time of 13.63, outside of Olympic A standard, was fastest of the three Brits and he knows what is required to progress to the final and beyond.
“It feels good to qualify for the semi-finals, but I’ve made major finals, so I’d be expected to at least get to this stage. But you always have to go through that part and be in it to win it. So far I’m still in it, so that’s a relief.
“I need to step it up, there’s no medals in the first round, so there’s no point running a PB right now.”
Frankis – 13.71 – was a little disappointed with his showing.
“I think there’s definitely more in me than I showed out there,” he said.
"I think it was the strongest heat on paper and it was always going to be hard, but I think I’m worth more than that. I’ll have to step it up for the semi-finals, I know I can run better than that.”
Day Four Evening Session
Men’s Discus Final
Lawrence Okoye (John Hillier) could not replicate his early summer form in the discus final. In a sodden Olympic Stadium, the British record holder bowed out of the competition after three throws with a best of 60.09m.
Okoye refused to blame the rainy conditions.
"I’ve got to be able to deal with any conditions I come to – I didn’t deal with it today," he said.
"It might rain in the Olympics so I’ve just got to learn to throw in those conditions.
You’ve got to prepare for every eventuality – it doesn’t matter, it can rain in August. It’s disappointing – I came here to do well and I haven’t done that so I am very disappointed."
Men's 4x400m Heats
Luke Lennon-Ford (Linford Christie), Michael Bingham, Conrad Williams (Linford Christie) and Nigel Levine (Linford Christie) ensured the Aviva GB & NI Team will run in Sunday evening’s final. Although not a particularly quick time of 3:05.50, the quartet won the race very comfortably.
Levine said: "We’re quite happy with the performance, all we wanted to do was qualify, and that’s what we did."
"It was so cold and we didn’t want to cramp up, we just had to execute the race. We had the toughest semi-final and it’s good to run against these guys today, but we’re aware of what we need to do tomorrow," said Williams.
Men's 10,000m Final
Keith Gerrard (Art Acevedo) finished inside the top 10 in torrid conditions in the men’s 10,000m. 28:57.97 resulted in a ninth place and one that bodes well for the future.
"This is a really good step forward for me," he said.
"Just to get here I am really proud of myself .One step forward and there will be more competitions like this to come hopefully."
Women's 4x400m Heats
Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball), Nicola Sanders (Tony Lester) and Shana Cox (Lloyd Cowan) produced a solid run to cement their place in the final when they finished second behind France – 3:29.96.
Similar to their Aviva GB & NI male counterparts, Sanders insisted the main aim was to go through to the next round.
"It was about getting through to the final, so we did our job," she said.
"It would have been nice to have won, but we got pipped by the French girl, but we always knew the French would be tough this year. But we got through, and that’s the main thing."
Men’s 200m Final
The penultimate race saw the Aviva GB & NI claim their first medal of the day. Danny Talbot (Daniel Cossins) rose to the occasion to collect his first senior medal at a major championships
20.95, outside of the Olympic A standard, secured bronze for the Birchfield Harrier.
Compatriot Chris Clarke (Nick Dakin) finished sixth with 21.26.
"It feels amazing, I didn’t even get a medal at the UK champs, so to come here and get a medal it’s fantastic," said Talbot.
"It’s the first time I’ve ever run in a senior championships, so I was just hoping to make the final, maybe even the top five so to get a medal, I’m elated."
How to Follow
The Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team are present for the five day track and field extravaganza. The squad flew out to Scandinavia on Monday and you can follow the action in various ways:
Live on the European Athletics website
BBC Red Button & Online - BBC Two & Online: Sunday 1 July (14:00-18:00)
Daily reports will be available here on the UKA website along with Twitter updates @UK_athletics
Ones to Watch
William Sharman - 110m Hurdles
Sophie Hitchon - Hammer
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Dwain Chambers, Tyrone Edgar, James Ellington, Christian Malcolm, Danny Talbot - 4x100m
Aviva GB & NI squad