9th August 2018
PROCTOR, UGEN & SAWYERS MAKE HISTORY AS ALL THREE REACH EUROPEAN LONG JUMP FINAL
Shara Proctor (coach: Rana Reider; club: Birchfield Harriers), Lorraine Ugen (Shawn Jackson; Thames Valley) and Jazmin Sawyers (Lance Brauman; City of Stoke) made history in Berlin with Britain set to have three women’s long jumpers contest a European Championships final for the first time in almost half a century.
Proctor, Ugen and Sawyers all did enough in qualifying on the third morning of the Championships to advance to the final, something Great Britain & Northern Ireland haven’t achieved since the Athens edition 49 years ago.
There was also a clean sweep of progression to the men’s 800m semi-finals from Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg; Birchfield Harriers), Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray; Lasswade) and Daniel Rowden (Richard Thurston; Woodfield Green Essex Ladies).
World indoor and Commonwealth champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin; Liverpool) leads the heptathlon after solid efforts in the 100m hurdles and high jump while Jade Lally (Zane Duquemin; Shaftesbury Barnet) and David King (James Hillier; City of Plymouth) followed suit after the women’s discus qualifying and men’s 110m hurdles heats.
World No.1 Ugen was the first of the three British women in the long jump to surpass the 6.67m automatic qualifying mark with a second-round effort of 6.70m (0.3m/s) after a foul first up, good enough for fourth overall.
Ugen said: “Now I know what my runway is going to be, I can start from that point [her 6.70m] on Saturday and hopefully get the rest of the six jumps in legally. Qualifying is all about doing enough to get through. I am feeling alright. I was expecting all of us to make it through, the British girls are really strong right now.”
Proctor saved her best jump until last with a 6.75m (0.7m/s) effort that saw her progress with the second best jump overall. She said: “It seems like I have a pattern for preliminary rounds but I live to see another day and that’s all that matters.
“I’m going to come out and attack for the final. I’m confident fit and ready and it’s at night so that’s better for me. I’ve grown a lot over the years. In the past I would have choked and made some silly mistakes but I was able to put it together and get it right.”
Sawyers ensured an historic trio of European finalists as she qualified in ninth with a final round attempt of 6.64m (-0.4m/s). She said: “I have jumped a PB this year and I am feeling confident. As much as I would have liked to have done it in one jump, I am really happy with that especially because we have got such a break now.
“It was a try out and now I have got measure of it, I can take that to the final. We wanted all three of us in the final, you’ve got to have all three in the final to have a British 1-2-3.”
In the men’s 800m heats, Giles found himself in a tough race and after his initial route was blocked off in the final 100m. He recovered well to dip into third place in 1:48.05, securing automatic qualification for the final.
Giles said: “That guy out there [Bosnia’s Abedin Mujezinovic]. He was racing but boy did he step in and step out, it was harsh. He stepped in, I tried to go the other side, then he stepped out. I was thinking ‘what are you doing?’.
“Then I was going down the home straight thinking no way am I losing this, I’ve done too much, so I tried to go again. I dipped but I didn’t know if I got it and I came away with this war wound [shows off scrape on torso].”
Rowden ran a measured race to kick away in the final 75m and earn himself the third automatic spot in the final, clocking 1:46.59 in the process. He said: “I have done European juniors, world juniors, European under 23s before and the Anniversary Games this year so I’ve been building up.
“I believe that no-one is too good to be beaten. I may not have the experience of some of these guys but in the 800m anything can happen, you’ve just got to position yourself well.”
Learmonth by comparison, needed to rely on a fastest loser spot to ensure his place in the semis after finishing fifth in his heat. His time of 1:46.75 saw him progress as the second fastest loser and book his place in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
He said: “I felt a bit flat, I felt like I was trying to cover everyone’s move when I should have just ran my own race and then sat and kicked, which was the plan. I just wasted energy going around trying to cover everything but anyway I’m through, I’ll just rest up and get ready for tomorrow. It’s been a bit of a scare but I’ll be fine by tomorrow.”
World indoor and Commonwealth champion Johnson-Thompson opened up her campaign with a season’s best of 13.34 in the 100m hurdles and then moved to the top of the standings with a best of 1.91m in the high jump.
That equalled Johnson-Thompson’s highest leap outdoors this season with Olympic and world champion Nafi Thiam settling for the same mark to leave the Brit in the lead over the Belgian by 51 points with a total of 2193.
Elsewhere on the track, King clocked 13.65 (0.6m/s) to reach the semi-finals of the men’s 110m hurdles, coming through his heat in second place.
In the field, Lally progressed to the final of the women’s discus as one of the best 12 throwers after a first round effort of 57.71m proved good enough for 11th place overall.
Kirsty Law (Duquemin, Sale Harriers) failed to advance from her pool after only managing a best throw of 52.37m, short of the 58.50m qualifying mark.