25 July 2009
On the third morning of the European Junior Championships, Novia Sad, Serbia, the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team began the first of three relay medal campaigns, whilst another World Youth champion took to the track in search of further age group honours.
The men’s 4x400m team of Markus Hunt (Chelmsford), Ross McDonald (Birchfield), Nathan Wake (Herts Phoenix) and Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes) made light work of qualifying for Sunday’s final with nine teams contesting two heats and just one squad set to be eliminated.
It might have been expected for the Brits to run easy, but the foursome were keen to get the job done and the three squad members not involved in the individual event were desperate to get onto the track. They won their heat in dominant fashion with a time 3:11.66, Chris Clarke left with little to do on his anchor leg and able to coast down the home straight.
First leg runner Hunt, who handed over in equal first position said: “It’s the first time I’ve worn the vest – it’s so good to get out here. Seeing what Louis and Chris did yesterday was amazing, just to be here seeing them through the rounds, listening to the way they talk – it makes you want to raise your game. I was really pleased with my run on that long stagger. I was close to the guy outside me and finished strongly.”
Second leg runner McDonald went into first, and although challenged by the Polish runner in the home straight, held his form to stay close behind in second. He said: “That was better than I could have hoped, I was very nervous beforehand. I think that first bend put confidence in me, and when I was under pressure in the home straight I didn’t let the guy break me.”
On the third leg, World Youth fourth placer Nathan Wake (Herts Phoenix) started with exuberance, challenging the outgoing Polish athlete on the first bend and maintaining the battle down the back straight. Fears that he might have gone to fast too soon were soon allayed as he pulled away in the home straight to give Chris Clarke clear daylight ahead of second. Wake said: “I was just happy to be running, it’s always better when you’ve got the first one out of the way. That’s us round safely, it’s always good to finish strongly.”
Clarke said: “I’m thought I’d be a bit tired from last two days but actually my legs don’t feel too bad and my muscles feel ok. It’s great to get through so well and the guys did a good job, it’s a shame we can’t run five of us.”
Fastest qualifiers from the two heats, and likely to be GB & NI’s main opposition were the German quartet who were marginally faster with 3:11.42.
Earlier in the morning, Katarina Thompson (Liverpool Harriers) started her heptathlon campaign. In conditions noticeably cooler than the previous two days the World Youth Champion opened out with a 14.76 (+2.2 m/s) over the 100m hurdles for 874 points, and 12th place in the overall standings.
Onto one of her strongest events – the high jump – and there was a small scare early on. Following a first time clearance over 1.69m, she then had two failures at 1.72m before clearing that height. On to 1.75m and with the majority of the field eliminated she went over at first attempt. She had three close efforts at 1.78m but remained on 1.75m and 916 points for equal first position in that discipline.
At the end of the first morning, Thompson was in sixth with 1790 points, just 79 points of first placed Nadine Broersen from the Netherlands with 1869.
There was unfortunately not such good qualifying news from the field with two qualifying events involving GB & NI athletes.
Shaunagh Brown (Blackheath & Bromley) had a tough discus qualifying competition finishing 11th in the first pool with a series of 42.28m, 41.71m and 43.78 – down on her season’s best of 50.81m.
Curtis Griffith Parker (Cambridge Harriers) who just missed out on a medal in yesterday’s discus final missed out on a place in the men’s shot put final by just 4cm. He registered two no throws before managing 17.82m for 13th position.