10th August 2018
JOHNSON-THOMPSON SECOND AHEAD OF EUROPEAN HEPTATHLON FINALE IN BERLIN
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Bertrand Valcin; club: Liverpool) is in second place in the heptathlon going into the final event while six other Brits and both 4x400m relay teams progressed into finals during the final European Championships morning session in the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Leading the heptathlon by 87 points overnight, a best of 6.68m (-0.1m/s) in the long jump saw Johnson-Thompson extend her margin over Belgian Nafi Thiam by a further 26 points in the first event of Friday morning.
Johnson-Thompson then set a new personal best of 42.16m in the javelin while Thiam threw a new Championship record of 57.91m. The Belgian Olympic and world champion now leads Johnson-Thompson by 192 points going into the 800m finale, the Brit 88 clear of third and a further 75 ahead of fourth.
Laura Muir (Andy Young; Dundee Hawkill) led home the six Brits to advance to finals; Laura Weightman (Steve Cram; Morpeth), Rosie Clarke (David Harmer; Epsom & Ewell), Adam Hague (Trevor Fox; Sheffield & Dearne), Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson; Blackburn) and Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore; Oxford City) the other five.
Muir, ranked second in Europe in the 1500m, ran a controlled race to win in 4:09.12, but training partner Jemma Reekie (Young; Kilbarchan) found herself boxed in on the home straight, coming in eighth in the same heat in 4:10.35.
Muir said: “I just wanted to stay out of trouble and I did that, so yes I am happy. I had plenty in hand, it was just a case of staying out of trouble and trying to qualifying as comfortably as possible.
“I have been in medal contention before and in the mix but not necessarily number one. But nothing is guaranteed. Laura Weightman ran well in her heat and there are a few other girls so I am not taking anything for granted and I am going to work as hard as I can on Sunday.”
In the second heat, Weightman was at the front heading into the final circuit and kicked away from the field in the last 70m. A late surge from Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui denied Weightman the victory, but she took second in 4:08.74.
Weightman said: “I saw the time on the first one and I think it’s always important to be aware of what’s happened in front of you so I kept half an eye on it. Then when the race started and the Spanish girl wen to the front I knew they didn’t want to risk it being much slower. But it turned out it was very similar to an 800 and I knew just to sit in and wait. I feel relaxed. I’m feeling strong so training has gone well and I’m excited for the final.”
Clarke made it comfortably into the final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase with a solid 9:33.78 performance – a shade outside her personal best – that helped her to a fourth place finish.
Clarke was well in contention throughout the race, staying with the leading group and guiding herself home to the fourth fastest time of the qualification stage.
She said: “Job done. I like to do it with as little stress as possible and that’s basically what I did, I didn’t realise I was just over a second outside my PB – it didn’t feel like it but it bodes well for the final. I really enjoyed it – it was fun.”
The British men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams both made it safely into tomorrow’s final, with the men qualifying fastest overall in 3:01.63 and the women finishing second in 3:28.12.
Cameron Chalmers (James Hillier; Guernsey), Dwayne Cowan (Lloyd Cowan; Hercules Wimbledon), Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams; Newham & Essex Beagles) and Martyn Rooney (Graham Hedman; Croydon) fought their way to victory courtesy of a strong finish to the third leg from Yousif and a typically strong final 400m from Rooney, holding off the French team to take first place.
Yousif said: “It was an easy ride. I didn’t have to do much, just stay behind the French guy and make sure I come home with plenty and in the lead. Today is about qualification, tomorrow is about medals. I did a tiny celebration when I passed the baton on but tomorrow is our day.”
The women’s quartet of Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna; Thames Valley), Finette Agyapong (Coral Nourrice; Newham & Essex Beagles), Mary Abichi (Cowan, Enfield & Haringey) and Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon; Bristol & West) also ran a solid race, but were passed by the Italians on the home straight., pipping them to victory.
Diamond said: “We have got a great possibility for a medal tomorrow, which will be exciting. We have got such strength in depth, we’ve almost put out two teams and we’ll have a good one in the final.
“It is fantastic, it is fantastic for the event and having girls running well spurs you on. I think tomorrow will be really exciting for the four girls that get to run.”
In the field, Hague cleared a new outdoor best of 5.61m to book his place in the final of the men’s pole vault, but will not be joined by his team mate Charlie Myers (Chris Boundy, Middlesbrough).
Despite clipping the bar, his first-time was good enough to ensure himself a spot as one of the best 12 athletes in the field, finishing equal sixth overall. Myers exited the competition after managing a best height of 5.36m, seeing him finish equal tenth in his pool and equal 17th overall.
Hague said: “It was pretty good to be fair, a bit windy but nothing that I can’t really handle. I came in nice and early, one mistake at 5.36m but then 5.51m and 5.61m first time, which I did not expect. I can’t believe I’m in the final.”
Hitchon qualified for the final of the women’s hammer throw as one of the 12 best athletes after finishing 11th with a throw of 68.69m and Douglas proved he still has a spring in his step after qualifying eighth for the final of the men’s triple jump, with a season’s best 16.56m (-0.9m/s), achieved on his last jump of his series.
He said: “I got through and it is just about getting through, I don’t really care how to be honest with you. It would have been nicer earlier. I had a bit of trouble with my runway. Where my runway marker was it was laying on the camera wires and I was trying to work out what to do.
“I am happy and now the final is a normal competition. I feel in good nick and I felt like this for a little while sometimes it is just getting it out and it takes a while to do that.”