2nd March 2018
KJT LEADS FINE START FOR BRITISH TEAM ON DAY TWO OF WORLD INDOORS
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin) completed a fine morning for the British team on day two of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, placing second after three events in the pentathlon.
Johnson-Thompson, competing in the pentathlon for the first time since winning European indoor gold in 2015, moved into first place following the high jump while an indoor personal best in the shot put meant she dropped just one place to second thereafter.
Teammates Asha Philip (Steve Fudge) and Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) both qualified for the 60m semi-finals as did Eilidh Doyle (Brian Doyle) and Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna) in the 400m while senior debutant Lee Thompson (John Henson) enjoyed a great run to progress in the men’s race.
Two-time Olympian Johnson-Thompson opened her campaign in Birmingham with an equal season’s best of 8.36 seconds in the 60m hurdles to place sixth overall with 1048 points
She moved to the high jump and, despite failing to clear 1.94m, her 1.91m was comfortably the best of the field and promoted her to the lead with 2167 points and a lead of 13 points.
The shot put was the third and final event of the morning and Johnson-Thompson produced an indoor personal best of 12.68m with her first attempt to keep her extremely well placed.
Johnson-Thompson is just 13 points shy of current leader Yorgelis Rodriguez of Cuba in second place while Austrian Ivona Dadic is one behind in third before a gap of 36 to fourth.
The Brit will complete the pentathlon during the evening session tonight with the long jump starting at 18:00, followed by the 800m.
Philip is currently enjoying her best ever start to an indoor season and cruised into the semi-finals of the women’s 60m in 7.18 seconds for second in the fifth of six heats.
She is the reigning European indoor champion and that effort on the opening session of day two in Birmingham is the seventh time she has ducked under 7.20 this season.
“It was really good but I find it funny that I keep on running 7.18 in all of my first rounds,” said Philip. “It felt so different to the trials. It felt like a championship and I thought, I just have to relax and remember what I have been doing.
“To me I’m really confident with that, I don’t want to over-exert myself, it is three rounds in one day, so hopefully I’ll be fine with that. The home crowd always make me feel good, so hopefully I will have a good semi and make it to the final.”
Philip will be joined in the semi-finals by teammate Williams, who came in as a replacement for Daryll Neita for the Championships less than a week ago.
Drawn in the first of the six heats, Williams faced a wait to see if her opening effort of 7.31 would be good enough, and it was ensuring Britain have double representation in the semi-finals.
“I was ready to be called but I wasn’t ready to be called. You don’t really expect people to drop out of a championship team,” said Williams.
“You get told you’re going to be a reserve and you’re like yeah, fine, whatever. But it doesn’t normally happen. I’m prepared mentally and physically I’m OK. It’s annoying I felt like I had the American girl but I’m here, I’m happy.”
The British pair of Clark and Doyle followed suit in the women’s 400m heats, the latter after a long journey to get to the Championships thanks to adverse weather.
Clark’s travel hardly looked to have affected her as she won the third of six heats in 52.75 to automatically qualify for the semi-finals and rank eighth overall.
“We had a lot of problems with the weather, we had a few cancelled flights and started to drive down on the Wednesday from Aberdeen,” she said.
“A blizzard stopped us and we had to stop partway at Stirling and then got snowed in at the hotel. We got here last night and that’s the main thing.
“I just had to go off fast and when I could see people around me I thought ‘no, I want that spot’ so I had to go for it. I did definitely have to step up the pace a bit when one of the girls tried to come around me, but I felt comfortable, it wasn’t a pushed race, I have more in me.”
Fellow Scot Doyle was also impressive as she finished second in the penultimate heat in 52.31, enough to place her fourth overall going into the semi-finals.
Doyle has been in fine form this season, retaining her British indoor title over 400m and has a European indoor silver medal from 2013 with just 0.13 separating second to fourth in Birmingham.
“It was a good race although it was tactically a bit different to what I’ve had this year. I would have liked to have won the break and controlled the race but unfortunately I didn’t do that,” said Doyle.
“It meant I could just relax that second lap and I knew I could catch them on the home straight. I need to be a bit more aggressive over that first 200m. I’m going to have to be tonight, because tonight is my final I’m going to have to really run my heart out to try and be here tomorrow again.”
Thompson enjoyed a memorable first outing in a British senior vest as he automatically qualified for the semi-finals of the men’s 400m after clocking 46.81.
Thompson, who secured his place on the team by becoming British indoor champion two weeks ago, registered the third fastest time of his career to finish second in his heat.
“It feels good, I’m relieved. It gives me determination to get to that final, hopefully run a faster time than I did and just give it my all,” said Thompson.
“I didn’t think I’d get the spot [lead at the break] as these guys go through in 21-mid whereas with my race plan I go through in 22 flat, so I kind of stuck to that. I got stuck in traffic a little bit but I think I dealt with it quite well.”
Jonathan Davies (Luke Gunn) was the seventh and final Brit to make an appearance on the first morning of day two of the Championships and placed sixth in the second of two heats of the men’s 3000m in 8:21.73 minutes after battling illness in the build-up.