Despite not getting away from the stadium until half past midnight after her winning her 100m silver medal in the most dramatic manner imaginable, Montell Douglas (Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC) ran her fourth lifetime best of the European Under 23 Championships on the third morning of competition, Saturday 14 July, in Debrecen, Hungary.
As the temperature climbed to its highest so far this week, Douglas sizzled to 23.42 seconds in the 200m semi-finals to earn a place in this evening’s final.
“I’m feeling smashed,” she confessed. “It was ages before I could get away last night, there was such a queue of medallists stuck in Doping Control.
“This PB was only a little one, but it still counts. I knew it would be hard doubling-up, but we have prepared thoroughly for it.”
But such is the quality of competition, Douglas’s latest PB was only good enough for fourth place in her heat (wind speed: -0.6) and seventh of the eight athletes who qualified for the final. The fastest qualifier, Nelly Banco (France) won Douglas’s heat in a PB of 23.29.
Her Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team mate Kadi-Ann Thomas (Marshall Milton Keynes) made a tearful exit after finishing seventh in her heat (wind: -0.2) in 23.57, leaving her 10th fastest overall of the 16 competitors.
Men’s 200m semi-finals: Two of the Norwich Union GB&NI trio made it into this evening’s final.
Rikki Fifton (Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC) was third in 20.93 seconds in the quickest heat (wind: -0.4), won in 20.88 by Visa Hongisto (Finland). “It’s a bit early for me – I’ve just woken up now I’ve finished,” Fifton smiled, noting the time back home would be 10am BST (though the Debrecen temperature was 26° Celsius and rising).
More seriously, he added: “I knew I would have to run the bend hard to put myself in contention. I didn’t come off the bend as well as I would have liked. I ran it wide. But hopefully I can sort that out for the final. There’s a lot more there!”
Leon Baptiste (Enfield and Haringey AC) joined him in the last eight – or, as he put it: “I just squeezed through!”
The 2003 European Junior 100m Champion finished fourth in his heat (wind: -0.2) in 21.10 seconds, making him only the ninth-quickest of the 16 in the semis. But his fourth place secured him the last final spot ahead of Hungary’s own hope, Miklos Szebeny, who clocked 21.08 in Fifton’s heat but finished only fifth. Under the rules, the first four in each heat went through.
Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun (Kent AC) went out, seventh in Baptiste’s heat in 21.31 seconds, which made him 13th overall. He said: “I came off the bend all right but lost a bit of momentum in the straight. I’m disappointed. I could have done better on the home straight. But this was my first Championship and it’s been good experience.”
The hardest job of the hottest day of the Championships so far fell to Louise Hazel (Peterborough AC). She made a sparkling start to the heptathlon, clocking the fastest 100m hurdles time of the entire competition, 13.76 seconds, a season’s best despite a difficult head wind of –1.7. It earned her 1013 points and she was the only one of the 19 competitors with a four-figure score.
But the high jump was of such quality that she dropped down to 11th place after two events. She equalled her season’s best of 1.67m for 818 points. But Viktorija Zemaityte (Lithuania) cleared 1.85m to take the overall lead with 2011 points.