17th August 2022


Jade O’Dowda (coach: John Lane; club: Newham & Essex Beagles) smashed her high jump personal best to sit fourth in the women’s heptathlon after two events at the European Athletics Championships while Jacob Paul (Marina Armstrong; WSEH) was also in career high form on another fine morning for the British team in Munich.

O’Dowda, competing exactly two weeks after Commonwealth bronze, impressively won group B of the heptathlon high jump after improving her career best to 1.80m, moving up to fourth overall having been eighth after clocking 13.72 seconds in the 100m hurdles. Teammate Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne; Andover) is currently 16th.

Paul lowered his 400m hurdles personal best to 49.40 as he surged into the semi-finals in style before being joined by teammate Seamus Derbyshire (Nick Dakin; City of Stoke) as four other Brits also advanced on the third morning in Munich including Naomi Metzger (Aston Moore; Trafford) who need just one jump of 14.24m to make the women’s triple jump final.

Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson; Border) needed two throws to progress himself in the men’s hammer while Hayley McLean (Chris Zah; Shaftesbury Barnet) ensured there will be full British representation in the women’s 400m hurdles semi-finals after a good run in the heats and Lawrence Okoye (Zane Duquemin; Croydon) did enough in qualification in the men’s discus.

For Mills and O’Dowda it is exactly two weeks between heptathlons for them as they both competed at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the latter winning bronze and the former finishing an agonising fourth.

Both were drawn in the same 100m hurdles heat to get going, which saw just 0.02 split second to sixth. O’Dowda was awarded second in 13.72 and Mills fifth in 13.74 to place eighth and 11th respectively after the first event.

O’Dowda would enjoy the high jump of a lifetime as the heptathletes returned to the Munich track. She made just one mistake on the way to clearing 1.77m and, with the bar at a personal best height of 1.80m, she showed great determination to secure it.

After two fouls, it was with her third and final attempt that she went clear on before choosing to retire – that outing pushing her up four places overall to fourth with 1996 points. Mills meanwhile couldn’t quite find her rhythm but still managed to clear 1.74m, which placed her 16th overall after two events with 1918 points.

Paul was arguably one of the best British performers of the morning as he stormed to a new personal best in the men’s 400m hurdles heats. Paul ran a smart race and a brilliant surge down the home straight briefly had him on course for the win in the opening heat.

He would be edged down into second just before the line, but that surge helped him to a time of 49.40 and his first personal best for five years. He said: “I can’t ask more than that time. Obviously in the heats you want to come through and hopefully qualify in a high enough position and not exert yourself too much.

“To be honest I don’t feel like I did, I felt like I had more there. I wanted to go well, go fast, I just wanted to execute a good race and get safely through.”

Teammate Derbyshire also secured automatic qualification in the fourth of four heats. He too benefitted from an impressive kick down the home straight before a blanket finish at the line with four others – and his own personal forward roll – left him waiting on his final placing.

Derbyshire would be awarded third in that heat in 50.08 to progress automatically meanwhile in the third of the heats Josh Faulds (Alex Currie; Shaftesbury Barnet) unfortunately just missed out on advancing as he placed fifth in 51.21.

Derbyshire said: “I’m really happy. I made some mistakes early on in my race but one of the big lessons me and my coach have trying to teach me is that it’s not over until it’s over.

“So I just thought I can finish strong, I’m not in the position I want to be in right now but there’s no reason why I can’t finish in the position I want to finish in. I fought so hard for the line and when I fell over I still didn’t know if it was enough but when I saw the big Q it was so grand.”

It was an impressive case of one and done for Metzger in qualification in the women’s triple jump. Fresh from bronze at the Commonwealth Games, she produced a first effort of 14.24m and decided that was good enough for her.

Metzger’s effort was her second best of the season so far – only her bronze effort of 14.37m in Birmingham legally better – and it placed her fourth overall going into the final.

She said: “These were very different conditions to Birmingham but it is an amazing stadium to compete in and I’m so glad I only had to do one jump to qualify. I’m not far off those medal placings, so I definitely have confidence going in. The Commonwealths gave me a whole boost of confidence, so I think I’m ready for another final now.”

Double Commonwealth champion Miller cruised into another major championship men’s hammer final, needing just two attempts to do so. He opened up with a 72.67m effort before a decent improvement to 76.09m – his third best effort this season.

That would be enough to progress as Miller opted out of a third row and, after placing sixth in his qualification group and ninth overall going into the final, he said: “I’m happy I made the final, so onto tomorrow. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go so I’m pleased I did enough to reach the final, and we’ll see how it goes then. I’ll be ready to have a go at it.”

There was just one British athlete in the heats of the women’s 400m hurdles as Jessie Knight (Armstrong; WSEH) and Lina Nielsen (Shaftesbury Barnet) were granted a bye, but McLean ensured she wouldn’t miss out on a place in the semi-finals with a fine run in the final heat, clocking 56.64 for third and automatic progression.

She said: “Technically it wasn’t great, I would’ve liked to have gone into the semi feeling more confident but I’m a semi-finalist and that all that matters. I prefer to run from an outside lane because I get distracted a lot so I was happy to be there, but you are then waiting. But hey, it’s a heat if you make mistakes you just build on that.”

Qualification in the men’s discus rounded off the third morning and Okoye made certain of a place in the final with a second effort of 62.56m from group B. However, Nicholas Percy (Duquemin; Shaftesbury Barnet) couldn’t join him from group A earlier in the session as he threw 61.26m to just miss out.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally:

Silver: Eilish McColgan – 10,000m

Silver: Zharnel Hughes – 100m

Bronze: Jeremiah Azu – 100m

Bronze: Daryll Neita – 100m