29 July 2010
As the weather in Barcelona turned cloudy on the third morning session of the European Championships, the Aviva GB&NI team were a ray of sunshine for British hopes with five out of five successful qualifications.
Getting the team out of the blocks was Andy Turner (Coach: Lloyd Cowan) who, after a false start by Polish Stanislav Olijar and subsequent disqualification, made it count in his first 110m hurdles heat with an effortless win, a length ahead of his rivals.
His time of 13.48 and a technically sound performance forces high expectations. He said: “It was a comfortable run, not full out, just winning the race and being as relaxed as I could be. I’m happy.
“I was a little fearful when I saw that little red thing next to my name on the board. I’d reacted off Olijar, he’d false started and then I went, but it’s been known to disqualify two people. I had to maintain my composure and just do what I had to do.
“The person who’s in the final and wins the gold is the one who makes the least mistakes on the day and that’s what it’s all about tomorrow.”
William Sharman (George Maciukiewicz) qualified in third place but had to work for his bread and butter in the third 110m hurdles heat. He ran level with the field in the late stages of the race, the result of contact with a hurdle early on, but managed to claw back an inch on the line which earned his pass to the final.
“It was alright really, I’m glad I’m through and that’s all that matters really. I hit the second hurdle and that affected my acceleration so just tried to hang on to what I had left after that,” he reflected.
“It depends how you hit hurdles, sometimes you can hit a hurdle and be out of a race- that’s happened to me in Rome- but I’m through and that is all that matters.”
With two experienced sprint specialists and one bright young talent, the British 200m offering looked good on paper and translated written potential into quality performances on the blue track in the Olympic Stadium with a 100% qualification rate.
Running in the first heat Christian Malcolm (Dan Pfaff) returned to International competition in fine form, winning his heat in 20.63.The race was his as he pushed off the bend and left the rest of the field to chase his GB vest to the line.
“It was comfortable you know, not easy, but comfortable, a really nice run,” he said after the race. “I’m just glad to be competitive again at a high level and I’m looking forward to the next round.
“I’m enjoying it and I’m in good form. I’ve always loved my career, coming to major championships is what it’s all about, it’s not about the Grand Prix, it’s about the big championships.
“Mark was a great inspiration last night, Mark and I have been good friends, we’ve come up together and struggled this year together. So it’s good for him to get what he deserves for all that hard work and hopefully I’ll get mine.”
Drawn against newly crowned 100m champion Christophe Lemaitre (FRA), Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun (Clarence Callendar), ‘the kid who ran for a bus’, accepted the pressure and used it to ensure a place in the final.
Having looked strong over the first 100m, Lawal-Balogun came out of the bend ahead of the field but then lost ground on the straight. With their hearts in their mouths the British fans looked on to see him keep enough to take third place in 20.93.
“My aim is to get to the final, I feel like I did my best considering I had lane two, so I told myself to just do my best. It was all a blur, I just kept thinking final, final, final so I just ran my race.
“He’s (Lemaitre) obviously got a good top end speed so I need to work on my best and my best is working off the bend so let’s see how it goes in the semi-finals.”
Late pick Marlon Devonish (Tony Lester), who won the last 200m spot in a race-off against Leon Baptiste (Michael Khmel) at the Aviva GB&NI preparation camp in Monte Gordo, rewarded Head Coach Charles van Commenee’s second chance by winning his heat in the final heat of the 200m.
Pushed all the way to the line by his European counterparts, Devonish replied with a season’s best performance of 20.68.
Later today British high jumpers look for a place on the podium, 10,000m medallists return to the track for the 5,000m heat and the men’s 400m hurdles competition continues with the semi-final.
Phillips Idowu takes on the triple jump final, the 200m boys return for the next stage of their competition and Laura Turner is back in action for both the semi-final and final of the 100m.
Michael Rimmer also steps out in the 800m semi-final following a good first round run.
Full coverage is on BBC 2 from 17:30.