21st July 2017


Heptathletes Niamh Emerson (coach: David Feeney) and Holly McArthur (Iain McEwan) enjoyed a terrific first day in the European Junior heptathlon, bagging seven out of a possible eight personal bests as the Great Britain team got their campaign off to a strong start in Italy.

It was Scot McArthur who enjoyed a clean sweep, revising her personal bests in the 100mH, high jump, shot put and 200m to post a score of 3310 points to end the day 13th. Emerson stole the headlines though as she bagged three PBs and a score of 3576 points, leaving her second overnight.

The morning session saw the duo get off to the perfect start, both ladies running 100mH personal bests. McArthur, running from lane eight in heat one stopped the clock at 13.93 (-1.5m/s), to win by one hundredth of second and take an early lead in the competition. Emerson went in the second heat, also taking victory in 14.01 (-1.7), a big PB.

There was another PB for McArthur in the high jump with a 1.63m clearance, whilst Emerson went over an impressive 1.81m to move up to third overall after two events. Come the afternoon session and the shot put, McArthur made it three from three with an 11.47m personal best, whilst Emerson salvaged her competition with a final round 12.40m effort, just down on her lifetime best.

By the time the 200m came around both girls were still full of running, McArthur executing an outstanding bend, whilst Emerson came back at her in the straight but couldn’t quite catch her teammate. Second and third respectively, both ran PBs of 24.59 (0.1) and 24.64 respectively. At the end of the day both girls were delighted with their efforts, Emerson commenting:

“I’m really, really happy as everything was solid, I felt quite composed and so it was just a good day. When you come to these competitions there’s language barriers so it’s so nice to have someone from home and a friend in there; you can support each other so it’s really good. Here’s to more PBs!”

McArthur added:

“I can’t really believe it – I’m so happy! I’m so glad it’s all coming together when it counts. Training has been going well so I was hoping to get up there with my PBs – the 200m was awesome.”

Oliver Bromby (Sara MacDonald-Gray) and Olivia Okoli (Anthony Childs) ensured they’ll line up in the men’s and women’s 100m finals on Friday afternoon after navigating their way through two rounds on a busy first day of action at the Stadio Carlo Zecchini.

In the morning session Okoli made light work of her opposition, winning in 11.65 (-0.1) before being drawn in the second of three semis. The Guilford and Godalming athlete ran a strong race to take the second of the two automatic final spots with an 11.78 (-1.2) time and despite not being overly happy with her start, she was pleased to advance.

“That was alright, not quite what I was hoping for but I’m just happy to qualify. I wanted to get a good start and I felt it could have been better – the second half of my race was definitely better. I’m really hoping to medal as that’s the reason I’m here, but anything in the top four or five I’ll be grateful for.”

Bromby followed suit some 20 minutes later, although he went one better in winning his semi-final in 10.54 (-0.8m/s) to head into the final as second fastest qualifier. Running in the final semi-final, he improved from his 10.70 (-2.7) time in the heats and will be confident of his chances tomorrow night.

“I executed what I needed to do a lot better than in the heats. I always expect my first round to not be as good as it should be as it seems to take me a while to get into my running, but I just went in looking to qualify and I did, so I can’t be disappointed. The final should be good – I’ll hopefully get a medal this time.”

There was disappointment for the other two Brits though, as having won their heats earlier in the day neither Dom Ashwell (Marvin Rowe) nor Rechmial Miller (Ryan Freckleton) were able to punch a ticket to the final. Miller was the first male sprinter in action at the championships, winning his heat comfortably in 10.55 (0.2) from the outside lane, however in the semi-final he pulled up after feeling something in his calf. Ashwell had done similar in the heat, stopping the clock in 10.52 (-0.5), but come the semi a poor start left him playing catch up and his 10.67 (-1.8) in third wasn’t enough for a fastest loser spot.

Jake Norris (Paul Dickenson) set the tone for the British team in men’s hammer qualifying, needing just one throw to book his place in Friday afternoon’s final. The first Brit in action at the championships, Norris launched his first throw out to 76.62m, way beyond the automatic qualifying line, showing his preparations have gone well as he hunts for a medal.

“That was perfect – straight over [the auto mark] and now I can just focus on the final tomorrow. I was definitely nervous, but I kept my cool. This takes the pressure off as come the final all I can do is my best.”

There was also a safe passage for Naomi Ogbeta (Tom Cullen) in the women’s triple jump; she made light work of both the mid-afternoon sun and the 12.90m automatic mark as she hopped, stepped and jumped to 13.25 (0.5) with her first effort.

“I’m really happy with that – I was hoping to jump over 13m and I had in my head that automatic qualifying would be over 13m. It was strange jumping off a ten metre board but it was nice to see so much sand so I liked it! I feel more confident now and I think I’ve got more to give. I’m coming in third so it’ll be interesting to see how I go in the final.”

There was heartbreak for Emily Gargan (Sam Stanislaus) who went in the other pool, her 12.46m (0.2) best left her just 2cm short of a place in the final.

Tom Gale (Denis Doyle) enjoyed a flawless qualifying pool, sailing over 2.05m, 2.09m and 2.12m at the first time of asking to book his place in Saturday evening’s high jump final.

“I’m really happy to make it through to the final but I was really hoping Tom and Joel could do the same. I’m going into the final hoping to get a medal but if I’m completely honest I’m going in with a clear head, as I know this is building me towards a senior career. I felt really good today so hopefully I can bring out my best performance in the final.”

It wasn’t to be for Joel Kahn (Deirdre Elmhirst) or Thomas Hewes (John Herbert), the duo exiting the competition at 2.12m and 2.05m respectively. There was disappointment for James Whiteaker as his 66.34m wasn’t enough to advance in the men’s javelin. Likewise in the women’s discus, Divine Oladipo (John Hillier) fell short of the extremely tough 52.00m qualifying mark with a best of 46.11m. She’ll be back in action in the shot put tomorrow.

Molly Caudery (Stuart Caudery) produced a measured performance in an extremely long women’s pole vault qualification, advancing with a second time success at the required 4.05m mark. With first time clearances at 3.80m, 3.90m and 4.00m, she was clearly in good form, safely over 4.05m at the second time of asking.

Three Brits were in action in the first round of the 400m, Hannah Williams (Colin Gaynor) and Lauren Russell (Coral Nourrice) in the women’s event with Owen Richardson (John Davis) in the men’s event. Russell was up in the first heat, running a personal best of 53.71 to advance in the third automatic qualifying spot. Williams went next and running blind on the outside got out well, allowing her the luxury of easing down in the home straight to finish second in a season’s best of 53.08.

Last but not least in the morning session was Richardson, and like Williams he was drawn in the outside lane. He wasn’t fazed though, running a fast first 200m and leading off the bend he held his form superbly to cross the line a clear winner, smashing his personal best by half a second with his 46.70 run.

As the temperature finally started to fall later in the day the male 1500m runners stepped out on track, with Archie Davis (Joel Kidger) going in the first of two heats and booking his final spot with a fourth place finish, squeezing through in the final metres.

Knowing what he had to do Jake Heyward (Paul Darney) front ran the second race, ensuring the pace would be quick enough for the four fastest losers spots to be available. He didn’t need them though, as coming into the final 100m four men were clear of the rest, so he was able to ease across the line in 3.46.64, a job well done. Unfortunately there was disappointment for James Gormley (John Wood) who was unable to get in the mix over the final 400m, finishing twelfth.

The final athlete in action on day one was Emily Moyes (Mick Woods) going in the first of two 3000m steeplechase heats. Finishing seventh in 10.27.16, missing her personal best by 0.01 of a second, Moyes faced a nervous wait, but eventually got the good news that she had bagged a fastest loser spot into Saturday’s final.

Full results can be found by clicking here