The sprinters amongst the Norwich Union GB & NI team came bursting out of their blocks in superb style as the World Youth Championships got underway in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Wednesday morning, whilst thrower Shaunagh Brown (Blackheath & Bromley) secured a spot in the women’s discus final.
Asha Philip (Newham & Essex), Ashlee Nelson (City of Stoke), Olufunmi Sobodu (Blackheath & Bromley) and Jordan Huggins (Enfield and Haringey) all cruised through to the first round of heats in the women’s and men’s 100m competitions.
Philip, ranked world youth no1, took heat 3 in impressive style in 11.61, over half-a-second clear of her opponents. Afterwards, she said: “It was okay. You can’t go too easy because you never know in the heats. You have to run fast, make sure you qualify, but not put it all out there. Three rounds to go!”
Nelson, younger sister of Alex, who took 100m silver behind fellow Brit Harry Akines-Aryeetey at these championships in Marrakech, Morrocco two years ago, was equally impressive.
The 16-year-old made a superb start and never looked in any trouble whatsoever as she won heat 7 in 11.70. “I got out for a change. My start is improving. Mike McFarlane (UK Athletics sprints coach) has been helping me out with it.” She said.
“Once I got in front, I was aware of what was happening around me and could take it kind of easy. I’m just looking forward to the second round now. I’m just going to go out and chill and block everything else out.” She said. The second round of the women’s 100m is scheduled to begin at 17:00 UK time.
In the men’s event, Sobudu, a training partner of Philip, had an early scare before securing his passage. “I false started, so there was a bit of pressure. But it went alright.” He said.
On running from lane 1, he said: I don’t really like it, but I’ve had it four times this year, so am getting used to it. I’m looking forward to the semis now. I just want to make the final and anything can happen from there.”
In heat 9, Huggins was second to USA’s Kenneth Gilstrap who clocked 10.81, with the Brit qualifying just one-tenth of a second adrift. However, the 16 year-old, who has a PB of 10.45, was far from happy with his performance.
“I didn’t feel good at all. Maybe it was nerves or something.” He said. “None of it was good; the start, the middle and the finish. But, I’m okay, I’ve just got to step it up for the next round. I have to think about what I’ve done wrong, what I’ve got to do right and make it happen.”
The second round of the men’s 100m takes place at 17:55 UK time. In the field, Brown’s first round effort of 45.07m was enough to see her finish fourth in Group B and ninth overall of the 12 qualifiers for tonight’s women’s discus final which takes place at 18:10 UK time.
Afterwards, she said: “I’m ranked fourth in the world and I only qualified ninth, so I’m a bit disappointed. But I qualified and that’s the main thing. I just have to pull out the big guns for the final now.
“I will go home, sleep, rest and eat some bananas for energy. My main problem was my arm going through before my hip, which means that the discus flutters rather than flies through the air. But I feel glad I got to the final. Now things can only get better.”
The other British action from Wednesday morning session came in the men’s shot qualifying, where Michael Wheeler (Herne Hill Harriers) and Curtis Griffith-Parker (Cambridge Harriers) both missed out on the final.
Wheeler was ninth in Group B with a second round throw of 18.19m to finish 19th overall, with the top 12 progressing to tonight’s final. Griffith-Parker was 11th in Group A with a third round effort of 18.15m, to finish one place below Wheeler overall.
Afterwards, 15 year-old Wheeler: “I’m pleased I got 18 metre-plus. I’m trying to keep over 18 metres all year. I didn’t use my legs properly, I collapsed a little on my left. I’m happy though, I’ve got another year in this age group.
On what he learned, he said: “Just seeing that there is a different world out there. Britain is just a small island.” Meanwhile a disappointed Griffith-Parker said: “I’m going to go away and do lots of drills and try and correct what was wrong. I wasn’t getting my feet down quick enough.”