4th August 2021
MILLER SIXTH IN HAMMER FINAL AND BIRD CLOCKS BRITISH RECORD IN THE 3000M STEEPLECHASE
Nick Miller finished sixth overall in the men’s hammer final, while Laura Muir and Jodie Williams booked their spots in track finals, and Lizzie Bird recorded a British record as Team GB’s female stars shone on Wednesday evening in Tokyo.
In the men’s hammer final, Nick Miller (coach: Tore Gustafsson, club: Border) recorded an impressive sixth-place finish at his second Olympic Games.
British record holder Miller’s final-round effort of 78.15m – a season’s best – proved to be his furthest of the evening, as Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki took gold with 82.52m.
The Border athlete said afterwards, “I’m kind of disappointed. I couldn’t quite find the rhythm. The last throw felt good.
“This year hasn’t been great with injuries, but we had a really good preparation camp out here. But sixth place, that is what it is.
Meanwhile, Lizzie Bird (Pat McCurry, Shaftesbury Barnet) made history earlier this week when she became the first British woman to qualify for the women’s 3000m steeplechase Olympic final and she rewrote the history books again as she improved her British record time.
The 26-year-old made the most of her moment in the spotlight, smashing her previous personal best with a British record time of 9:19.74 to finish ninth overall.
It knocked over three seconds off her PB and secured a top-ten finish at her debut Olympic Games, in a race won by Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai, ahead of USA’s Courtney Frerichs.
“I just love the event,” said Bird. “I’ve been doing it now for five, six years – I think it’s a really fun event.
“I really hope that by being the first British woman in a final there are some girls watching who think I want to try the steeplechase because it’s a cool event and it’s still fairly young. It’s a really good mix of endurance and technique.”
In the 1500m semi-finals, Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) made a statement by staying with 5000m champion Sifan Hassan and cruising through to the final in second spot in a time of 4:00.73.
Hassan is going for an unprecedented 1500-5000-10000m treble at these Olympics and although she won the heat, Muir was with the Dutch athlete throughout the final lap before easing up down the home straight to conserve energy ahead of Friday’s final (1.50pm BST).
“I saw we were clear at the end so I just eased down a bit, but I knew the first semi-final was quite quick, so I knew the fastest loser spots were going to be quite tough,” explained Muir.
“There were a lot of girls still quite close behind me and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get pipped on the line or anything. Everything went the best it could have done.”
Katie Snowden (Dan Stepney, Herne Hill) was also in the 1500m semi-finals on her Olympic debut and ran the second quickest time of her career, clocking 4:02.93 to finish ninth in her race, but narrowly missed out on a place in the final.
Next up on the track was the women’s 400m semi-finals and Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton, Herts Phoenix) continued her successful conversion from 200m to 400m by making the first individual Olympic final of her senior career.
The 27-year-old dipped under 50 seconds for the very first time with a personal best 49.97s to come second behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) and can look forward to a plum lane in the final at 1.35pm BST on Friday.
Williams, who moved up to sixth on the UK all-time list, said, “I’m so happy, It is just sinking in when I was walking just then and I started crying. It’s been such a long journey and I needed to come here and make that final.
“I’m glad I’ve got that first part done, that’s the hardest part, and being in that final anything can happen, so you’ve got to be there to challenge for medals.
“For me it was just, get out really hard, settle into a really nice rhythm and then from 150 onwards run for your life and that’s what I did!”
Ama Pipi (Linford Christie, Enfield and Haringey) was another athlete in semi-final action – over 400m – and ran a 51.59s race to come seventh, so did not progress to the final.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin, Liverpool) sustained an injury to her right calf during the 200m, the final event of day one of the heptathlon, and although she bravely got up off the track to finish the race, she was disqualified for stepping outside of her lane.
Johnson-Thompson had been fifth in the standings after three events, following her 13.31m effort in the shot put earlier in the evening. However, sadly she has had to withdraw from the heptathlon.