13th April 2018
KJT TAKES COMMONWEALTH GOLD SIX WEEKS AFTER WORLD INDOOR TITLE
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Bertrand Valcin) wrapped up her second major international title in the space of exactly six weeks, living up to her favourites tag to win Commonwealth Games gold on a good day for the Home Nations on the Gold Coast.
Johnson-Thompson was in control throughout the seven events at the Carrara Stadium and solid performances in the long jump, javelin and the 800m on the second day of the heptathlon gave her victory with a total of 6255 points.
England teammate Niamh Emerson (David Feeney) showed character beyond her 18 years to rise to the challenge of needing a strong final 800m to join Johnson-Thompson on the podium and claim bronze ahead of Australia home hopeful Celeste Mucci with a personal best score of 6043.
That England medal double came before James Arnott’s (Ryan Freckleton) silver in the T47 100m with Johnson-Thompson confirming she’ll enjoy some rest time before concentrating on completing a hat-trick of international titles for 2018 at the European Championships in August.
“It has been a very emotional day for me. I’m so happy to finish the heptathlon and win the gold; it is a relief to complete all the events. I felt something in the 200m last night and then I started to feel it more today. It hurt during the 800m but I just carried on,” she said.
“I’m so proud of myself for coming here in April and setting season’s best so early. I haven’t had chance to do a lot of training between world indoors so I’m happy to be competitive and win the title here. I’ve got 16 weeks to build on this and be ready for the Europeans.
“The heptathlon is difficult and anyone can step up. The Australian girls looked strong and then you look at Niamh who is still a junior – she scored 6000 points last year and now. She did brilliantly to win the bronze medal.”
Johnson-Thompson as expected led going into the second day of the heptathlon and made smart choices given a small injury. Two attempts, instead of three, in the long jump produced 6.50m, the best of the field, and one attempt in the javelin of 40.46m meant just a good 800m was needed.
Gold was never in doubt in the finale with the story of the race going to Emerson, who turns just 19 next week and stormed through two laps to deny Mucci, that coming after a 6.06m in the long jump, the third best of her career, and two personal bests, 39.91m then 40.34m, in the javelin set her medal bid up.
Northern Ireland’s Kate O’Connor (Francis O’Hagan) moved up to eighth after that 800m to finish with a big personal best score of 5695 while Scotland’s Holly McArthur (Iain McEwan) completed the top ten. Emerson will now concentrate on this summer’s World Junior Championships in Tampere.
“I’m really, really happy. I always wanted to get a medal, it was always my aim but wanting to get it and actually doing so are two very different things, so I’m very happy,” she said. “I was very pleased with my high jump and also my 200m and javelin.
“I knew going into the 800m that I had to beat the girl ahead of me by ten seconds, so I had a plan in place. KJT is very inspirational – she’s very helpful, just saying little things that help. I’ve now got a busy season with world junior and also Europeans, so all being well I’ll do both of those.”
English Para sprinter Arnott got the Home Nations medal haul for the day up and running with silver in the men’s T47 100m final in 11.30 seconds, missing out on gold to Suwaibidu Galadima of Nigeria. Wales’ Morgan Jones was an agonising fourth in 11.93.
“I mean, I came second. I didn’t know anyone going into the race, so I was very sceptical. But I didn’t really care about anyone else, it was all about my lane and my race. It was a surreal experience – all the crowds cheering. I think I’ve done my country proud,” said Arnott.
“I got out really nicely and was really happy with my transition into the run. I could feel the guy on my left come through and I was a bit like ‘woah’ as I wasn’t expecting it. But I knew I had to do what I do in training and I came away with a silver medal.”
Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) was competitive in a high-class women’s pole vault final but had to settle for fourth on countback with a best of 4.60m, her failure to clear that height at the first attempt the difference between being on the podium and not.
England teammate Molly Caudery (Stuart Caudery) placed equal fifth after setting a new personal best of 4.40m with Lucy Bryan (Alan Richardson) equal seventh and Wales’ Sally Peake (Simpson) tenth, both clearing 4.30m.
The women’s shot put saw the English trio who put on a show at the British Indoor Championships in February all contest the final. Sophie McKinna (Mike Winch) came out on top, twice setting a personal best to finish fifth with 17.76m.
Rachel Wallader (Richard Woodhall) was a place behind in sixth with a season’s best of 17.48m while Amelia Strickler (Steve Manz) was ninth with 16.78m. In the women’s 800m final, Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson) ran a good race to finish fifth in 2:00.83.
Tiffany Porter (Jeff Porter), a silver medallist from Glasgow four years ago, placed sixth in the women’s 100m hurdles final while Alicia Barrett (Toni Minichiello), who is on the British Athletics Futures Programme, was eighth.
Jersey’s Zane Duquemin (John Hillier) placed ninth in the men’s discus final after a best effort of 55.64m while Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) recorded the same finish himself in the men’s 10,000m medal showdown, crossing the line with a time of 28:17.11.
There was a Kenyan one-two-three to kick off the first final of the day, the men’s 3000m steeplechase, with Welsh duo Jonathan Hopkins (Chris Jones) coming home sixth, teammate Ieuan Thomas (James Thie) seventh and Adam Kirk-Smith (Tomasz Plibersek) of Northern Ireland eighth.
From the morning session, England’s men’s 4x100m relay quartet came together superbly to qualify for the final fastest with Reuben Arthur (Freckleton), Zharnel Hughes (Patrick Dawson), Richard Kilty and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Benke Blomkvist) combining to clock 38.15.
There was no such luck for England’s men’s 4x400m relay four – like the 100m quartet flying the flag as the only Home Nation entered – as Matt Hudson-Smith (Lance Brauman) pulled up injured after less than 50m of the first leg.
England had put out Hudson-Smith, Dwayne Cowan (Lloyd Cowan), Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) and Jack Green in a bid to defend the title they won in Glasgow but it wasn’t to be. The Home Nations did fare far better in the men’s 1500m heats though.
Charlie Da’Vall Grice (Jon Bigg) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman), the latter fourth in the 800m a day ago) automatically qualified out of the second of two heats, and their slow pace allowed Chris O’Hare (Terrence Mahon) to join them after he was one place outside certain progression in heat one.
Six Home Nations athletes entered in total but Welsh duo Tom Marshall (Thie) and Rowan Axe (Craig Winrow) along with Jersey’s Elliott Dorey (Neville Taylor) missed out on the medal showdown. The same went for Joe Harris of the Isle of Man in qualification for the men’s javelin final.