26 July 2009
In the Sunday morning session on the final day of action at the European Junior Championships, the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team saw the sprint relay squads take to the track and Katarina Thompson (Liverpool Harriers) continue her bid for a high placing in the heptathlon .
In the first track event of the morning, the GB & NI women’s 4x100m team crashed out of the heats when the baton failed to pass between Torema Dorsett (Enfield & Haringey) and Shaunna Thompson (Sale) between the third and anchor legs. It was a cruel blow to the team which had already overcome a significant hurdle; namely the withdrawal of Emily Diamond (Bristol & West) suffering with a thigh strain obtained in the 200m rounds.
GB & NI’s 400m representative Laura Wake (Herts Phoenix) stepped up to the plate, a not wholly unexpected selection with Wake more familiar to the 200m, prior to stepping up to 400m this summer.
With the team requiring a reserve, hammer bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon with an impressive 100m season’s best was also drafted in to join the pre race warm up.
Placing Wake on the second leg, all eyes were on the first and second exchanges to see if the rookie relay runner would be a costly addition to the team, but as it happened she was the strongest performer with two slick changes, in from Rachel Giwa (Ilford) and out to Dorsett.
When Dorsett and Thompson ran out of zone for the team’s final exchange, the two girls were distraught, but as a foursome they faced the music soon after and spoke highly of their last minute replacement:
Dorsett said: “Laura did so well, her changes were brilliant and I feel so bad as she did everything right.”
Thompson chipped in: “The annoying thing is that we had it – we were leading. I feel so bad for the team – and I’m so sorry for Rachel who led off so well, it was her first race – and - last race of the championship.”
In the men’s relay heat there was better news with the GB & NI quartet of Olafunmi Sobodu, Junior Ejehu, Deji Tobais and Eugene Ayanful playing it fairly safe with conservative changes, finishing third in their final in 40.17.
Whilst the German team ran away with a 39.62 victory, the GB foursome was happy with their work in making the final.
Ayanful – bronze medallist in the 100m said: “The important thing was just to get through. You can’t do anything unless you’re in the final, and once you’re in the final we know anything can happen.”
Sobodu, who will be replaced by Andy Robertson (Sale) in this afternoon’s final, wanted to enjoy his moment helping the team qualify: “It’s my last race here and my last race as a junior as I go up next year. Andy will take my place and the guys have got a good chance. I want to say however thanks to the people who got me here in the team for their support, the staff at Lee Valley, and my coach.”
In the women’s heptathlon Katarina Thompson (Liverpool Harriers) perked up from a disappointing first day, and some savvy concentration helped her effort with a significant long jump victory.
With the run up facing a tough head wind of up to -2.6m/s the athletes were averaging half a metre down on their PBs. But Thompson, in preparing for her second and third attempts had a careful eye on the wind sock adorning the runway and began her attempts the moment it had dropped.
Her second leap of 6.05m (+0.1m/s) was 40cm more than all but one of her competitors taking 865 points, and she allowed herself a slight smile when leaving the field to head to the javelin. And with the Icelandic event leader Helga Margret Thorsteindottir stretchered from the long jump with a hamstring injury, the field was once again wide open.
“There is the tiniest glimmer of hope,” she admitted after having moved into fourth spot, “But it’ll be tough. I was waiting for the moment it (the wind) dropped and then just going as soon as I could. The competition is more open now but everyone is thinking the same.”
Onto the javelin and Thompson threw a solid series of 30.50m, 30.84m and 28.79m earning 493 points, but with athletes peppering the 40-50m range, she slipped in the overall rankings to seventh with 4605 points just the 800m to be run. However with a strong PB of 2:18 to her name, Thompson could still make an impact on the leader board when she takes to the track tonight.
On the final day of competition, The Aviva GB and NI team medal role of honour is currently; Simon Lawson 10,000m silver, Sophie Hitchon hammer bronze, Eugene Ayanful 100m bronze, Chris Clarke 400m gold, Louis Persent 400m bronze, Lawrence Clarke 110m hurdle gold, Louise Webb 3000mSC bronze, Simon Horsfield 1500m bronze, Kate Avery 3000m silver, and Louise Small 3000m bronze.
Further reports on will appear on www.uka.org.uk