9th August 2018
MITCHELL-BLAKE AND BRADSHAW CLINCH SUPERB MEDALS ON EVENING FOUR AT THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Denis Shaver, Newham & Essex Beagles) and Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn Harriers) secured brilliant silver and bronze medals respectively on a strong evening for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team at the European Championships in Berlin.
Clinching medals in the men’s 200m and women’s pole vault respectively, Mitchell-Blake’s medal was the first to come of the two in the final of the evening’s sprint showpiece.
Though slower out of the blocks than he would have liked, the reigning British champion attacked the race with ferocity once he was into his running and came off the bend in fifth before clawing back the metres.
Sealing silver with a dip for the line, his medal-winning time of 20.04 matched his second quickest ever behind Ramil Guliyev’s (TUR) scorching 19.76 for gold, with Mitchell-Blake saying afterwards:
“It came down to a race for second place if I’m being honest with you, I am a realist in this sport but to get a medal that is what matters at the end of the day and it being silver, it’s not too bad.
“I didn’t have time to think, I was moving too quickly. I caught myself in an awkward position coming off the curve but in race mode you have just got to fix it when you are doing it. You can’t think about it too much. I had to claw my way back from about fifth to second and I successfully did it. I wasn’t sure when I crossed the line but when I saw I was second I was happy.
In the same race, Adam Gemili (Rana Reider, Blackheath & Bromley) put the memory of a rusty semi-final run behind him as he too produced a fine season’s best time, running 20.10 from lane two to place fifth, with the 2014 European champion now turning his attention to the 4x100m.
Joining Mitchell-Blake in clinching a medal tonight, and the fifth for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team, Bradshaw turned the dominance she has enjoyed on the domestic scene into a superb and historic European bronze in the women’s pole vault.
Choosing to enter the competition at 4.55m following breezing through her qualifying pool, Bradshaw sailed over confidently at the first attempt to kick-start her campaign and assault on a first international outdoor medal strongly, with 4.65m then following without issue.
Opting to pass at 4.70m, the British record holder produced a clinical jump at 4.75m at the third attempt to put her in contention for bronze.
In the end the height wasn’t required to make the podium, with three failures at 4.80m for Anzhelika Sidorova (ANA) securing a brilliant bronze for Bradshaw in a breakthrough result following close brushes with the podium at Rio 2016 and London 2017. The achievement saw her become the first British female of all time to win an outdoor European medal in the event.
“It means so much to me – I’ve had so many lows over the last couple of years so I live for days like this,“ said Bradshaw of her achievement.
“I knew it would be a bit of a battle trying to get one of the medals; there were obviously two stand out favourites in Stefanidi and Sidorova, but I knew bronze was going to be up for grabs and in the end I managed to get it. I felt like I jumped really well and I had loads of fun, and it’s my first outdoor [international] medal so I’m really, really happy.”
Elsewhere, and back out onto the field of play after a solid opening morning in the heptathlon, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrin Valcene, Liverpool Harriers) picked up where she left off to produce a strong series of throws in the shot put.
Opening up with a season’s best 12.59m, Johnson-Thompson improved to 13.09m – her best throw for some two years – to add 733 points to her tally ahead of the 200m later in the evening.
Carrying the quickest season’s best (23.56) and personal best (22.79) of the heptathletes in the championships Johnson-Thompson stamped her authority on the 200m come the fourth and final heat.
Driving out from lane five, the world indoor and Commonwealth champion ran a terrific race, holding her form to surge past Louisa Grauvogel (GER) on her inside for victory and toward 1091 points in a championship best time of 22.89 (+1.5), the time just a tenth down on her lifetime best and the outright fourth quickest time of her career.
She now heads into day two of action with an 87 point lead at the top of the standings and an overall score of 4017 points, with the opening event for the heptathletes tomorrow being the long jump.
Reflecting on a successful day one, Johnson-Thompson said:
“I’m happy with them [events] all – the hurdles was definitely an event I was a bit nervous about going in as I was in lane two with Nafi on my right. I just thought, I’m here and I just want to attack it and I did; it paid off now I’m just trying to take that mentality into all events.
“I’m a bit gutted about the high jump I thought maybe there was one more height in there but the shot and 200m, I’ll take that 200m. The German on the inside definitely pulled me along. In the shot, it was my first time over 13m in a combined event so I am definitely over the moon about that. But it wasn’t a good putt, I definitely can throw further.
“For me the changing point was when I finished the shot and I was still second. Normally I drop down to page two of results after that. I’m not giving up easily, I’m going to battle back, I’m here to try and win for sure.”
Among the track action taking place earlier in the evening, the semi-finals of the women’s 400m saw Laviai Nielsen first out to battle for a place in Sunday evening’s final.
Faced with the difficulty of running blind from lane eight, Nielsen backed up the impressive personal best of 51.67 she ran in Tuesday’s heat by running another phenomenal lifetime best for victory in the first semi-final.
The 22-year-old kicked on down the home straight to pass those in the middle lanes, with a lean for the line seeing her secure auto qualification and take a huge four-tenths off her previous best to clock 51.21, the quickest qualifying time heading into the final.
Speaking afterwards, a delighted Nielsen said:
“I’m know I’m still 22 but I think I’ve got a bit more experience – I know what my race should feel like.
On her strength over the final 100m, she added:
“I have to thank my coach for that as she makes me do so many tempo runs, we’ve been training a bit differently this year, focusing on my speed then coming back with a bit of endurance towards the end of the session.
“I knew coming into the home straight they would all come at me, in lane eight you have to run blind until the finish so when they all came at me I knew I had an extra gear and that’s what makes me competitive so I just had to trust my finish.”
Looking to follow her team-mate’s safe passage, Anyika Onuora (Rana Reider, Liverpool Harriers) went from lane five in the second semi-final.
In the mix to qualify as one of the first two over the line, Onuora placed third in 51.77 – not quick enough for a fastest non-automatic qualifier spot.
Completing the trio of British representatives over the distance, Amy Allcock (Glyn Hawkes, Aldershot Farnham & District) also missed out on the joining Nielsen in the final. Left with work to do coming off the final bend, Allcock struggled to keep pace with those out in front, though her time of 51.91 for sixth place does serve as the second quickest of her career following a personal best last month in London.
Competing in the penultimate track event of the evening having navigating his way through a tactical heat earlier in the week, Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon, Bracknell AC) impressed in the final of the men’s 3000m steeplechase to claim a fine fifth place finish.
A European Junior champion back in 2013, the 24-year-old showed his capabilities on the senior international stage with a fine run that saw him move through the field in the closing stages of the race. Posting a time of 8:37.28, Seddon’s placing saw him become the first Briton to finish within the first five at a European Championships since Mark Rowland in 1994.
Reflecting on a result to be proud of, Seddon said:
“The last few laps were some of the hardest I have ever run but there was no place I’d rather be than right then and there. It was good. I wanted that, and I am happy with the result, fifth in Europe, it is good. I am well happy with that.”
In the men’s high jump, and aiming for a spot in Saturday’s final, Allan Smith (Bryan Roy, Shaftesbury Barnet) led the way for the British trio. Eyeing the auto qualifying mark of 2.27m, both Smith and compatriot Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft, Sale Harriers Manchester) needed clearances at 2.25m to stay in the reckoning for a spot in the final, but could not make the height.
Also jumping in qualifying group A, David Smith (Paul Harrison, Shaftesbury Barnet) struggled to back up first-time clearances at 2.11m and 2.16m, with three failures at 2.21m seeing him exit the competition prematurely,
Action resumes tomorrow morning beginning with the women’s hammer throw qualifying pools at 10:00am local-time (09:00 UK-time). The full timetable for the full championships can be found here.