13th July 2017

Sprinters among qualifiers on day one in Bydgoszcz

Britain’s sprinters were among those in fine form on the opening day of the European U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, with three of the four 100m representatives making it through heats and semi-finals to set-up medal bids.

Alongside sprint successes, secured qualifications were very much the story of the day morning, afternoon and early evening in the Polish sunshine, with a whole host of British athletes claiming final places in their respective events.

Sprint trio Ojie Edoburun (Coach: Jonas Dodoo), Joseph Dewar (Gladys Bird) and Reuben Arthur (Ryan Freckleton) were all in action in the semis after earlier posting heat wins, with current European Junior champion Edoburun winning semi-final two in a photo finish in 10.26 as he aims for the rostrum.

Arthur joined him with third place in the third semi with a run of 10.35 – but that had the effect of edging out compatriot Dewar, who had finished third in the opening semi with 10.45.

Imani Lansiquot (Dodoo), meanwhile, was fourth in the same stadium last year at the World Juniors and the current European Junior champion from two years ago in Sweden now can’t wait for the U23s final.

“I did the job in the semi-final with second place (11.47) and I’m really looking forward to coming back for the final,” said Lansiquot.

“My Polish opponent was obviously a home crowd favourite but I was happy she was in my semi because she is a fast starter and that helped. I feel like this can be a lucky stadium for me. I was fourth here last year and want to improve on that this time and hopefully get in among the medals.”

Ellis Cross (Mick Woods) was the first Brit to compete in a final in Bydgoszcz and he was ‘really pleased’ with fifth place in the 10,000m as he recorded 29:53.64, with the race won by Spain’s Carlos Mayo in 29:28.06

“I was fifth fastest coming in but I knew it would be tough because there is a lot of depth and quality in the event in Europe at the moment with guys like Carlos Mayo from Spain and Amanal Petros from Germany,” he said.

“I’m really pleased with fifth in Europe. The gaps that opened up were just too big to get back. I thought when they put in a burst that they might pay for it later on and I could maybe finish stronger.

“As it turned out, there was work to be done for fifth. I saw on the screen there were athletes ganging up behind me and I heard my mum at 200m to go telling me to sprint – I was already sprinting, believe me!”

Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas) and Robbie Fitzgibbon (Jon Bigg) each came through safely in the 1500m qualifying but unfortunately James West (George Gandy/Mark Hookway) missed out.

Gourley took third place in his heat for an automatic slot in 3.43.99 with a strong finish, while Fitzgibbon, swallowed up by the pack after pushing the pace, fought back superbly to take the fourth automatic slot on the line with 3.43.47 in the second, marginally-faster heat, while West ran 3.44.72.

Aimee Pratt (Vicente Modahl) is another endurance athlete with a final to look forward to – taking second place in her 3000m steeplechase heat.

There’s a final to come, too, for 800m runner Hannah Segrave (Chris Layne) after a solid run of 2:05.54 gave her the win in her heat.

“I’m really pleased with that because I did what I had to do and have got into the final,” said Segrave.

“I would think I might well need to better my PB (2.02.79) to have a shot at the medals but you don’t know how a championship race might un-fold.”

In the high jump Chris Kandu (Fuzz Caan), a medallist at these championships in 2015, will look towards hoping to repeat his feat this time around having secured passage to the final with a clearance at 2.18m

Elsewhere, pole vault specialist Lucy Bryan (Alan Richardson) qualified after going clear at the automatic qualifying height of 4.20m, and another field event athlete, discus thrower Amy Holder (Neville Thompson), also eased through to her final with a first throw of 51.37m that instantly met the automatic qualifying criteria.

Challenging weather conditions, particularly during the morning session, made for tricky conditions for sprinters and throwers, with Taylor Campbell (John Pearson) having to endure a long wait to compete before booking his spot in the hammer final with 67.43m for 10th place in the qualifying pool.

Long jumper Jacob Fincham-Dukes (Zivile Puksteine) also has a final to look forward to, qualifying in fifth with a last round leap of 7.67m, while one-lap sprinter Cameron Chalmers (James Hillier) also progressed to the 400m semi-finals, cruising home for second in his heat.

In the combined events, Katie Stainton (Kelly Sotherton) had opened up with a 13.94 in the 100m hurdles, with a 1.66m high jump clearance and a 11.61m Shot rounded off with a clocking of 24.16 over 200m to finish the day on 3390 points, good for 11th place ahead of the remaining events.

Action from the European U23 Championships continues tomorrow, with live coverage streamed on the European Athletics website.