17th July 2022
JOHNSON-THOMPSON STARTS HEPTATHLON CAMPAIGN AS 400M ATHLETES ADVANCE
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Aston Moore; club: Liverpool Harriers) ended the first morning of action in the women’s heptathlon in seventh position as five Britons progressed into the semi-finals on the third morning of action at the World Athletics Championships, while there was British interest in the men’s marathon and 10,000m.
The reigning world champion kicked off her day recording a season’s best of 13.55s in the 100m hurdles, slicing 0.15s off her previous best effort, following it up by matching her season’s best of 1.83m in the high jump, just missing out on clearing 1.86m, brushing the bar on her way over at the third attempt.
The Liverpudlian rounded off the first morning of heptathlon action by netting a further 722 points with a 12.92m effort in the third round of the shot put, putting her 346 points adrift of current leader Nafissatou Thiam (BEL).
Johnson-Thompson will return for the 200m, the final event of the first day of the event at 02:38 BST on Monday 18 July.
On the track, one-lap specialists Matthew Hudson-Smith (Gary Evans; Birchfield Harriers) and Alex Haydock-Wilson (Benke Blomkvist; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) both made safe progress into the semi-final of the men’s 400m, qualifying automatically from their heats.
British champion Hudson-Smith made light work of progressing from lane two in the final heat. The Birchfield athlete burst away through the first 200m and was able to ease down in the home straight with his rivals in his wake, cruising to victory in 45.49s.
Haydock-Wilson timed his own charge perfectly to take the third automatic qualifying spot in the opening heat with a season’s best of 45.62s. After a typically powerful start from the Briton, he found himself in a battle for the third automatic qualifying spot with 100m remaining. He found another gear to glide through into third spot inside the final 50m and secured his place in the semi-finals.
Hudson-Smith assessed afterwards: “It was a controlled run. It was a bit windy down the back straight so I had to readjust it a little bit, but it was a good run. I executed well, it was kind of easy to just do enough to win and go from there to the semi-finals.
“Me and my coach Gary Evans have a game plan, we go through all the race scenarios preparing ourselves for this day. It went as expected really but as we prepare for every scenario, so I just executed and was going with the flow really. Next plan is to win the semis, reach the final and go from there.”
In the women’s 400m, Victoria Ohuruogu (Christine Ohuruogu, Newham & Essex Beagles), Ama Pipi (Marco Airale, Enfield and Haringey) and Nicole Yeargin (Boogie Johnson, Pitreavie) all made progress into the semi-finals.
Pipi ensured progression automatically by finishing third in her heat, owed in large part to an excellent second bend that allowed her to push to the line and cut the tape in 51.32s. Ohuruogu also claimed third spot in the final heat, moving smoothly off the bend into the home straight and cruising through in 51.07s, the eighth fastest automatic qualifier.
Yeargin was made to wait after finishing fourth in her heat, but progression was confirmed as one of the six fastest non-automatic qualifiers. A powerful first 200m set the Pitreavie athlete up entering the final bend, but her season’s best of 51.17s proved good enough to see her through to Tuesday’s semi-finals.
Ohuruogu reflected: “It was really fast – I just had to go with them, to qualify in the top three I just had to go. I just needed to get it out the way because I knew I could qualify but the first round is always really scary.
“I knew it was going to be tough qualifying because it was top three and the girls have faster PBs than me but I’m just happy I executed my own race. I knew I had to come top three so when I saw them go I knew I needed to cling on for dear life. And it paid off so I am happy.
“I couldn’t watch anything else before going out there. Even my sister was trying to call me, she talks to me before I go on but I can’t say anything she just needs to talk at me to calm me down. I find it comforting and its good she doesn’t mind speaking. But she’s more stressed out than me – she’s very nervous!”
In the first event of the day in Eugene, Josh Griffiths (Swansea) came home 49th in the men’s marathon, clocking a time of 2:17:37.
Entering the final 14km circuit, Griffiths was in contention for a top 50 spot and held his form to get to the 40km mark in exactly 50th position. The Swansea man held his rhythm to finish in 49th position overall and as the ninth European athlete home, as Tamirat Tola (ETH) took the gold in a championship record of 2:05:36.
Assessing his performance, he said: “I still don’t think it was my best race but given the issues that I had, I’m fairly happy with how it went but I need a bit more time to digest and look at the result in a bit more depth. I’m happy to make it to the end and feeling a bit tired at the moment, but once I get back I’ll have a better look at things.
“This is my 11th marathon so experience helped me a lot today, now if this was one of my first marathons I think my head might have gone a little bit when I wasn’t feeling so good, especially when my legs started to fatigue in the second half so you know, very happy to make it to the end given the issues. But again, it’s just a massive honour to represent Great Britain and hopefully I can make it back here one day again.”
Over 10,000m, Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby; Preston) ended his maiden World Championships with a 23rd place finish. Dever kept pace with the leaders in a cagey opening and was well in the hunt at the halfway point. As the pace quickened and the field became more strung out, Dever was unable to hang onto the back of the leading group, eventually finishing 23rd in 29:13.88
Dever said: “That was pretty awful, I was embarrassed by my performance. I have been training consistently but I haven’t been feeling myself really. I tried to stay as positive as I could going into it. My coach kept reassuring me that I’d get through this but it was tough today.
“I prepared for the Champs in North Carolina, so I can’t say the weather was an issue today as it’s been hotter and more humid there. I need to refocus now ahead of the Commonwealth Games. I know I can give a much better effort than that.”