5th August 2017


Nine Brits made it through the qualifying rounds on the second morning of competition at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson) secured her place in the final of the women’s hammer throw with a superb 73.05m first-round effort – more than 1.5m further than the mark required to make it through to Monday’s final, and the third best out in the field behind Polish duo Malwina Kopron and Anita Wlodarczyk.

“It’s nice to get it done on the first round but if I needed to take two more I would have done it. It’s just about being in the final really,” said Hitchon, who won Olympic bronze at Rio 2016.

“I don’t come in thinking I’m going to win a medal just because I won a medal last year – everyone knows it doesn’t work like that. Every competition is different so it’s just about coming and doing the best we can on the day.

“In 2012 I got through with a pb in the qualification so hopefully things will go as well as that. Qualification is never the easiest thing – in Rio it was difficult, but you come out in the final and it’s a different competition.”

All three Britons made it through to the semi-finals of the women’s 100m – Daryll Neita (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) led the way, holding her form superbly to finish first in the sixth and final heat in 11.15, just 0.01 second shy of her personal best.

“It was absolutely amazing, winning in front of a home crowd – it was just the heat, I know there is more to come. A lot of anxiety has gone now I’ve stepped on that track once so I’m ready for tomorrow,” said the 20-year-old, who finished second at the British Championships last month.

“It’s my second fastest time ever – in a heat too. I think I ran quite composed, so just on to tomorrow, and all three of us are through, so even better.”

Quick out of the blocks, Philip was chased down in the second half of her heat, finishing fourth with a season’s best 11.14. It was a similar case for Henry, who lined up against the likes of US Olympic silver medallist Tori Bowie.

The 21-year-old, who lit the Olympic flame back in 2012, enjoyed a fast start but the rest of the field quickly gathered pace and sprinted hard to the line. Henry clocked 11.32 and, like Philip, faced an agonising wait to find out if she had made it through.

“You think Rio and being at the Olympics last year was probably the biggest sporting event, but to come here and be in London and see the whole stadium packed was a crazy experience,” said Henry.

“I thought it was a decent race – obviously I’m not happy to have not got automatic qualification and now it’s just a waiting game. I’ve just got to keep my fingers crossed that I’m able to go through to the semi-final.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin) finished the first morning of the heptathlon competition lying in fifth place, having completed two of the seven events.

The 24-year-old, who set a new heptathlon personal best in Gӧtzis earlier this year, started with the 100m hurdles and collected 1075 points after crossing the line in 13.33 – just 0.04 seconds shy of her lifetime best.

The high jump was next and the Liverpudlian opened at 1.80m, sailing over on her first attempt despite the damp conditions underfoot. She passed at 1.83m but then bowed out at 1.86m, clinching 978 points and a total of 2053 points after two events. The shot put and 200m follow later tonight.

The men’s 400m heats saw Matt Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) and Dwayne Cowan (Lloyd Cowan) progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

British champion Hudson-Smith was first up in a fast opening heat, finishing fifth in 45.31 – a time that proved good enough to make it through, while Cowan claimed automatic qualification in heat three after holding on superbly down the home straight to finish third in 45.39.

“I had a few weeks off so I was a bit rusty getting in to a race pattern again, so I went through the 300m a bit too slow, hopefully in the semi-finals I can go faster,” said the 32-year-old, who only took up athletics five years ago after watching London 2012.

“When the crowd heard my name, and the big roar, I was like ‘Wow,’ I have to turn up and do something,” he added.

Two-time European champion Rooney Martyn Rooney (Graham Hedman) finished sixth in his heat which included the USA’s former world champion LaShawn Merritt, missing out on a place in the semi-finals as he dipped over the line in 45.75.

“It’s the World Champs – every event is going to be tough. I really wanted to go out there and enjoy the experience. I had a nice pacemaker in LaShawn Merritt outside me, it would have been nice to have held on to him a bit more,” said Rooney.

“But I’m an honest guy – that’s where I’m at. Running 45.7 here – I’ve probably got maybe two or three tenths and that’s it, and if that means I’m running for the relay then that’s all that matters.”

Last on track in Saturday’s morning session were the men’s 800m heats, and Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg) and Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray) both guaranteed their places in the semi-finals on Sunday evening with impressive performances to keep the home crowds cheering.

European bronze medallist Giles held his nerve coming off the final bend in his heat. Sitting in third place, the 23-year-old shrugged off a challenge by Puerto Rico’s Ryan Sanchez and pushed on down the home straight to cross the line in third place in 1:45.86.

In the final heat Learmonth went through the bell in second place behind the USA’s Donavan Brazier as the field stretched out behind them; coming down the home straight the Scot looked well placed to qualify, and only Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman managed to sprint past before the line.

“You can’t hang back with these guys – it’s the best in the world. You give them five or 10 metres and you’re all closing at the same speed, you’re never going to catch them so I put myself up there in contention. I’m delighted it all paid off,” said Learmonth, who clinched the third automatic spot in a time of 1:45.90.

“We’ve got a lot of people out there screaming for you and anyone in a British vest – it’s a lot to take in. I’m very composed, but you are nervous, your stomach is churning a wee bit but I was ready to go. I’ve been buzzing for ages but since I arrived in London I’ve been excited, but I’m glad this is out the way now.”

Kyle Langford (Jon Bigg) also races again tomorrow having successfully achieved one of the fastest loser’s spots. Sprinting hard down the home straight, he moved up to fifth place in heat two before crossing the line in 1:46.38.

“I came on strong, but the problem is everyone else in front of me came on strong too,” explained the 21-year-old. “I caught one or two guys but I’m up against world class athletes here, maybe I should have been a bit closer and it might have paid off a bit more but hopefully I will make it through. If I do, I’ll learn from my mistakes and take it in to the semi.

“It’s a massive learning experience for me but I can’t be learning forever, so I’m going to have to step it up at some point.”