18 August 2008
More Team GB athletes advanced to finals in Monday night’s action at the Bird’s Nest, but Greg Rutherford’s hopes of a long jump medal faded when he finished tenth.
Action from the men’s 200m and the women’s 400m hurdles and 100m hurdles gave Team GB a perfect conversion rate of athletes through to the next round.
Sarah Claxton lined up in the semi final of the women’s 100m hurdles knowing it could take a lifetime best would see her through. And it proved to be the race of Claxton’s life as she burst out form the gun and led the field over the first five hurdles.
But even when she was enveloped and overtaken by three other athletes, she held her form to the line, dipping to perfection and sealing the fourth and final qualifying spot.
For Claxton, coached by Lloyd Cowan at Lee Valley High Performance Centre, Tuesday evening’s Olympic final now beckons, and she promised there was more to come.
“I know my starts are good, yesterday I held back a bit,” she said. “But today I didn’t care, I just went for it.
“I clipped some of the hurdles today and I need to rectify that for tomorrow. I know I can break the British record – I can feel that it’s there. – I was hitting hurdles and still ran 12.84 – I’m really pleased.
Another Londoner Tasha Danvers was next to take her place in a track semi final over the 400m hurdles. Danvers, who was uncertain of her form guessing she could run 59 seconds or 54, went for the quicker option of taking second place in 54.31 and ensuring she made her second ever Olympic Games final.
For Danvers it was a sweet return to the Olympic stage, after the birth of her son in 2004 ruled her out of competing in Athens.
“After not being here for eight years to say I’m in the finals again after having a child makes me happy,” she beamed.
“No one thought I was going to make it out the heats – it’s easy to lose faith and begin to ask ‘am I really that good’. It’s like I’m starting the season from scratch.
“I realised no matter what happened, I had to keep my mind focused. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s not going to happen, so I believe in myself. In the final I just want to do the same thing, just with more speed!”
Sheena Tosta from the USA led the way from both semi finals with 54.07, the final scheduled for Wednesday evening.
Team GB continued to make progress in the men’s 200m as Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish both qualified for Tuesday evening’s semi final.
Christian Malcolm qualified in a close race where four athletes dipped for three spots. Although lady luck did not favour the Cardiff man, she did however gift him with a season’s best of 20.30 – his fastest for four years and a place in the semi finals as a fastest loser.
Marlon Devonish also endured the same scenario. In a race where Usain Bolt cantered away to victory, the battle for the remaining two slots came down to Devonish, Kim Collins and Sean Crawford and the four into three equation once again reared it’s ugly head.
Devonish continues however as his 20.43 also qualified him in a ‘loser’ slot. Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe led the times with 20.23, whilst Bolt’s little turn around the track was a casual 20.29.
In the only final with British interest on the night, Greg Rutherford, European Silver medallist in 2006, finished tenth in the long jump in a tough Olympic baptism for the 21 year old. Fouling his first jump, his second aborted attempt was logged at 5.20m, before his only significant mark of 7.84m with his third. It meant that in tenth position the 21 year old did not make the cut in his first Olympic final.
Significantly his qualification performance of 8.16m would have earned him sixth place. He was damning with his appraisal of his performance in the final won by Aranda Saladino of Panama with 8.34m.
“I felt fine going into it but you never know what is going to happen on the day. Qualification went well – it felt easy. I went into tonight thinking ‘right, now I’m going to get myself a medal.
“I had the thought of being the first British medallist here. But now I think I’ll just feel really angry when I look at the results later on. It was a big chance to win the Olympic Gold wasted.”
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