4th March 2023
CAPTAIN SAWYERS FLIES TO FINAL AS SEVEN MORE BRITS PROGRESS IN ISTANBUL
Team captain Jazmin Sawyers (coach: Aston Moore; club City of Stoke) put down a performance in qualifying for the women’s long jump at the European Indoor Championships to exemplify her leadership qualities as every single Brit in action made progress in Istanbul.
Sawyers, given the honour of captaining the team shortly after arriving in Turkey, needed just the one jump to advance to the final of the women’s long jump, leaping out to 6.71m – that arguably the most impressive performance of the seven Bris in action.
Reece Prescod (Marco Airale; Enfield & Haringey) led a clean sweep of qualifiers in the men’s 60m heats after clocking 6.60 with Eugene Amo-Dadzie (Steve Fudge; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) through after crossing the line in his heat in 6.69 and Jeremiah Azu (Airale; Cardiff) also advancing with a run of 6.66.
Jack Rowe (Tim Eglen; Aldershot Farnham and District) avoided the drama to advance to the men’s 3000m final where he’ll be joined by James West (Helen Clitheroe; Tonbridge) after his own strong effort in qualifying.
British champion David King (Tim O’Neil; City of Plymouth) also navigated qualifying successfully in the men’s 60m hurdles heats as the team maintained its overall extremely healthy record in the minor rounds at these championships, and which produced three medals the night before.
Sawyers has been the picture of consistency this season, winning the UK title, not finishing a competition with a mark lower than 6.50m and now three over 6.70m as she registered 6.71m with her very first attempt in Istanbul.
“I don’t normally get qualification done in one jump, so it feels quite nice, said Sawyers, who would rank fourth overall. “I should do that more often. I know I am in good shape, so I’m not too surprised and it felt very controlled. I thought I might sway over the 6.75m mark, but if I can open like that in round one, it is encouraging ahead of the final.
“It has been really exciting to be the team captain. There is pressure, but in a good way. It feels like I have a bit of a responsibility to do well, and to lead the team in a positive way. You watch the action from a different angle because I am captain of this team and I want everyone to do their best. It [the three medals] really inspired me, so I was feeling really positive and wanted to follow on from their success.”
After a bronze and two silvers the night before, Prescod was the first Brit back out on the track and was the quickest of the trio scorching to a 6.60 clocking to progress to the semi-finals as the third fastest overall.
Prescod said: “It’s a very early start, I was up at 6am this morning, but so far so good. It had a great warm up, the track is really quick and I executed my race really well. Now it’s about preparing for the rest of the day and recovering well. I’ll just go back to the hotel and chill and rest now. I’ll come back later to repeat the same thing again.
“Train hard, work hard for six days a week. Marco (Airale) is very technical and he’s very strict with everything. He’s stripped me apart and we are trying some new things. So far we are doing good but there are so many more things for us to achieve. It’s all about taking it step by step.”
Amo-Dadzie was the next up and, on his European Indoor Championships debut, he took a fast third heat in his stride – underway after a false start to Switzerland’s Enrico Guntert – registering a time of 6.69 to advance as an automatic qualifier in Turkey.
“Big Q into the semi-finals so I am really really pleased with that,” said Amo-Dadzie. “It is my first time competing in this lovely GB suit, so I am really buzzing for that. At championships, and when you are on the international stage, you don’t know what can happen.
“There was a false start on the first one and I felt like I got out well then, and then the second one I got left in the blocks a little bit but thank god I didn’t panic and I just told myself to execute, execute, execute. I’ll reset now and be ready to go again in the semis.”
Azu, training partner of Prescod in Italy, then made light work of ensuring another British clean sweep of qualifying at these championships, running 6.66 to place third for a spot in the semi-finals.
He said: “It was nice to get a feel for the track. I was a bit sleepy in the blocks. The gun caught me off guard so I was going backwards but I am fairly happy with the run. You can get a bit carried away with people running PBs in the heats but that means nothing if you are not in the final.
“You have to get through the rounds, and I am taking it round by round. I’m excited for later, it’s a pretty open field. I train with Reece and he is coming in as the favourite, and it would be nice to get on that podium too.”
The British team have had a superb record of making it out of heats at these championships and neither West nor Rowe were about to let that slip as the men’s 3000m got underway in Istanbul.
Rowe was the first of the pair up after being drawn in the first heat, alongside newly-crowned 1500m champion Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen but he ran a fine race to automatically qualify.
Controlled by Ingebrigtsen to no great surprise, Rowe was among a pack of four that finished behind the Norwegian and France’s Bastien Augusto, crossing the line in 7:57.29 for a place in the final.
He said: “There were a few nerves coming in after how I performed at British Champs [he was disqualified]. It was a similar race, so I decided to get towards the front and try to apply some pressure.
“Obviously I was racing a better field, so I was a bit nervous but I’m really happy with how I felt. I felt strong, in control. You have to make the pace honest. There were some fast kickers out there, so I gave myself a chance and didn’t leave it to a sprint finish. I didn’t want to be going flat out for the last 200m.”
West had the benefit of knowing how quick that first heat had been run and it showed in the field as it went around in a quicker pace. All bar one, would qualify out of the second heat with three breaking away this time.
West was part of that lead trio, looking very comfortable and finishing third in 7:50.73. He said: “We knew what we had to do after heat one, so we just took it around in eight flat. We were talking at the front about going round in 64s. We all knew we could run 7:57 quite easily, so we took away the stress to just make sure we got through.
“I like to get a big Q instead of waiting on another spot. I don’t like leading particularly, but I think it was smart to do that. It was a little bit of work, but it got me through safely. Once they came around with 400m to go, I settled and knew I could just kick it in.”
It has been a good indoor season for me, culminating in this, so it is all to play for tomorrow. We’ve got a shot at getting a medal, so I am really looking forward to it.
UK champion King was the last athlete to take to the track during this session in the men’s 60m hurdles heats and wasn’t the quickest out of the blocks. He rectified that with a solid race to cross the line in third in the opening of four heats in 7.75.
That guaranteed an automatic qualifying sport and King said: “It was a little bit shaky. I hit the last hurdle pretty hard because I felt like I was behind everyone, so I was just running to get back in the race. I stumbled to the line, luckily still able to get a good dip.
“The next round will be a lot better for me. It’s an early start for the semis but in the past, an early start has really suited me, so I know how to turn it on during the morning rounds. The indoor season started a bit rocky for me, I wasn’t going as fast as I wanted to in the early races but it has been building nicely for this. I made the world indoor final last year, so I see no reason why I shouldn’t be in the final here.”
Coverage of the European Indoor Championships continues at 1500 on BBC One on Saturday 4 March and runs until Sunday 5 March. Full details can be found here.
A timetable, start lists and results can be found on the European Athletics website here
Great Britain & Northern Ireland medal tally:
Silver: Neil Gourley – 1500m
Bronze: Melissa Courtney-Bryant – 3000m
Bronze: Daryll Neita – 60m