THE possibility remains of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team dominating the men’s 60 metres at the 29th
European Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
Jason Gardener (Wessex & Bath), Craig Pickering (Marshall Milton Keynes) and Ryan Scott (Yate & District), all coached by Malcolm Arnold at Bath, powered into the afternoon’s second round.
Gardener, the defending champion, is chasing a fourth successive 60m gold and on the day when his wife Nancy is expecting a baby, this first round was pure child’s play for the Bath Bullet.
He qualified in 6.59 and said: “I am feeling good. There has been no news so far - so no news is good news.”
Gardener has his car on standby should family matters take over.
Pickering, the UK champion, has been praising the way Gardener has helping him with his starts, but the youngster started slowly this morning.
He broke from the blocks sluggishly but quickly moved into gear to win his heat in 6.61. “My preparation has gone well but it’s just still a bit early in the day for me. ” said Pickering after his 10am race.
Scott was leading European record holder Ronald Pognon, of France, for 55m of the 60m before the silver medallist from Madrid two years ago took over to win in 6.65 with the Briton second in 6.67.
Scott said: “I relaxed in the last 10m, but I did the job and I am through.”
Gardener and Scott have been drawn next to each other in the semi-final.
All three British 60m women progressed into the second round as fastest losers when they all finished third in their heat.
But Montell Douglas (Blackheath & Bromley) discovered a new chink in her armoury as she broke her personal best time with 7.29 in a heat won by Russia’s Yevgeniya Polyakova in 7.18.
Douglas, whose previous best was 7.33, ran wearing a bandana and while it might not be in any of the training manuals, it made a difference to her aerodynamics.
She revealed: “When my hair is down it is quite long. I was with my physio James Moore the other day and he thought I could run a couple of 100ths faster with my hair cut off.
“I didn’t want to do that so I wore the bandana - and I ran a pb!”
Joice Maduaka (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) was the first Briton in action in the opening heat, clocking a season’s best of 7.30 as Sweden’s Susanna Kallur, just hours after winning the 60m hurdles, triumphed in 7.25.
Maduaka’s Woodford Green with Essex Ladies teammate Jeanette Kwakye qualified with 7.27 after Bulgaria’s Tezdzhan Naimova won in 7.22.
“That was fine,” said Maduaka as she waited the half hour to see if she had qualified while Kwakye added: “I am not a great first round person and that was okay.”
In this afternoon’s semi-final, Maduaka and Douglas are in the same race.
It was a good morning in the field. Martyn Bernard (Wakefield Harriers) broke his pb of 2.27m with 2.30m to reach tomorrow’s high jump final.
It was a splendid performance, with him showing fine speed on the run-up and excellent execution.
“I am surprised by the pb,” said Bernard. “But I have jumped what is the benchmark height.
“I cannot wait to get here tomorrow for the final and hopefully jump higher.”
He will face Stefan Holm, of Sweden, the Olympic champion, and he said: “Hopefully I can hold onto his coat-tails.”
His teammate Samson Oni (Belgrave Harriers) is out, though, clearing a best of 2.23m and failing in his bid to equal his pb of 2.27m. Oni said: “It was not to be today. I was fired up for it, but my body was not.”
Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers Manchester) was delighted after breaking her pb in the pole vault and progressing into tomorrow’s final.
Dennison improved her best by five centimetres, clearing 4.40m as Russia’s former European Indoor champion Svetlana Feofanova won their qualifying group with 4.55.
Dennison failed in her attempt to break the national record of 4.50m and said: “I was disappointed with my attempts at 4.50m but it has been great to have the pb.”
Chris Tomlinson (Newham & Essex Beagles) needed just one effort to reach the final of the long jump.
His first round 7.96m was the third best overall and he said: “I am on the mend after a missing a month with injury and it is good to go through.”