11th August 2019
WILLIAMS LIFETIME BEST ON FINAL NIGHT OF EUROPEAN TEAM CHAMPS AS GB&NI END FIFTH
Ben Williams (club: Sale Harriers Manchester; coach: Aston Moore) produced the performance of his life while Richard Kilty (Middlesbrough; Benke Blomkvist) also claimed a fine victory as the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team finished fifth at the European Team Championships Super League 2019 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Williams, the 2009 world youth champion, smashed his lifetime best by 40 centimetres as he leapt out to 17.14m – now ninth on the all-time UK list and an IAAF World Championship standard – to win the men’s triple jump for one of the standout performances from a British athlete with Kilty showing guts and determination to claim his second win of the weekend in the men’s 200m.
On a good final night for the British team, there were also fine second-place finishes for Jamie Webb (Liverpool Harriers; Adrian Webb) in the men’s 800m, Jodie Williams (Herts Phoenix; Stuart McMillan) in the women’s 200m, Abigail Irozuru (Sale Harriers Manchester; Tom Cullen) in the women’s long jump and the women’s 4x400m relay team.
Sophie McKinna (Great Yarmouth; Mike Winch), Sarah Inglis (Lothian; Mark Bomba) and James West (Tonbridge; Ben Thomas) were also noteworthy as they placed third with the British team placing fifth in the overall standings with 302.5 points – hosts Poland, Germany and France completing the podium in that order.
Ben Williams’ performance in the men’s triple jump was a thing of beauty as he completely blew away the field with his final attempt. With the wind swirling, his opening mark was almost a run through as it recorded 14.69m but his second attempt of 16.37m, just outside his season’s best, offered a sign of what was to come.
He leapt out to 17.14m for a 40 centimetre personal best and comfortable standard for the IAAF World Championships yet with the format allowing the top three another jump, his competition wasn’t over.
With his rivals from France and Finland, both getting red flags, the win was wrapped up and it was no surprise given his elation at 17.14m that Williams, relishing every moment if the win, followed suit himself.
He said: “This has been coming for about ten years now. I have had a torrid time with injuries. Over the past ten years I have probably had about six years of those out of the sport. I had surgery last year and missed the Commonwealth Games but that very much kept me driven, kept me working hard through the rehab and my support team is the reason I have jumped this today.
“I wanted to be the first individual 12 points for the team. The men’s 4x100m relay team got the first 12 points but I wanted to be the first individual 12 points and hopefully it helped boost us up the table a bit.”
Kilty was the second individual winner for the British team at the Championships as he battled to take a great victory in the men’s 200m. Once again he produced a great bend in the better lane of four this time, and it was his grit in the closing metres that ensured it was his chest across the line first in 20.66.
That was Kilty’s second win in Bydgoszcz after his effort as part of the British men’s 4x100m relay team last night and he said: “I felt tired this morning. I don’t know how I had the strength to keep going, it was all a blur. I won, that was the main thing. Conditions were terrible, the wind was so strong, head wind on the bend and straight and not great for times, but I won and got 12 points for the team. I am doing alright [at the 200m], I am enjoying it. I don’t know why I started doing them but I am doing them now and I am not doing too bad so I will keep doing them for a bit.”
As an elated Williams finished, European indoor silver medallist Webb began the men’s 800m final in the sun and heat and pushed all the way for maximum points for the team. It came down to a fight on the home straight with Webb battling to take a fine second behind Polish home hope Adam Kszczot in 1:47.25.
Webb said: “I was really excited to get in that type of field. That is only my sixth race of the season. My first five were all about getting ready for London [last month] and that went really well. I came here knowing that five had the world standard and four the Olympic standard – it was like a world semi-final for me. I wanted to do well for the team and pitch myself in that field and give Kszczot a run for his money but his turn of speed is ridiculous. I have been working on that a lot this year. The plan was to kick before he kicked. I don’t feel I got that much wrong and I knew I had to keep working down the back straight to get points.”
Jodie Williams started her evening with a fine second in the women’s 200m final after a great run in the heats on Friday night. She ran a good bend but Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji just edged ahead of her in the closing metres to take the win by 0.17 with Williams posting 22.89.
Williams: “I have been racing [Mujinga] for years and she ran really well the other day. I have raced her pretty much all season as well and with her you know it is going to be a great race, so that was exactly what I expected. I am satisfied, not happy. I came here and wanted to get the win and run a little faster but I will go back and watch the race and see where I can improve.”
Irozuru suffered mixed emotions as she claimed a brilliant second for the British team in the women’s long jump. Her opening effort of 6.75m – a world standard – set up the 11-point haul however personally for Irozuru it was behind an illegal +2.2m/s wind.
She produced a leap of 6.61m next up before a foul and had one last shot as part of the final four. Irozuru, competing in the British best for the third time this year, gave it everything and landed a season’s best 6.70m.
Irozuru said: “It is slightly bittersweet. I jumped 6.70m legally, which is two centimetres off the world standard. I am very thankful for that but I am also really frustrated because it is two centimetres off the world standard! I got a windy 6.75m and second place for the team, which I am also thankful for. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life and to say that at 29 years old and retiring in 2016, to come back now at represent Britain three times – I’m speechless, but I am still not quite where I want to be.”
The British women’s 4x400m relay team followed suit as they clocked a season’s best for second. The team of Emily Diamond (Bristol & West; Blomkvist), Jodie Williams, Zoey Clark (Thames Valley; Eddie McKenna) and Jessica Turner (Amber Valley & Erewash; Nick Dakin) combined brilliantly to beat Italy into second in 3:27.12.
Diamond and Jodie Williams, the later less than an hour after her 200m effort, put the team in a great position with Clark and Turner, similarly the latter having competed in the winning British mixed 4x400m relay team in non-points scoring action on Friday, doing the same to secure 11 points.
Diamond said: “It has been three months since World Relays so we were dusting the cobwebs off a little bit but it is always so much fun and it has been a while since the last Team Champs. We have got a few newbies on the team, it was good fun to compete.”
McKinna claimed a fantastic third in the women’s shot put, which was almost second following some late drama in the circle. McKinna’s series was great, a 17.94m opener then a 16.91m then a 17.92m to place her second, but it was as the top four threw for a fourth and final time where she was pushed down to third.
Germany’s Fanny Roos produced a throw of 18:54m to take second with McKinna managing 17.88m with her last attempt to complete a great series. She said: “It was a really good competition. I didn’t actually realise I was second for most of it, I thought I would be in fourth because that is where I was ranked.
“Going into that last throw I wanted to go through the process and get that 18m. Unfortunately it didn’t happen but to have the most consistent series of my career in a championship, I don’t think you can ask for much more, other than a PB. I’ve got the British Champs coming up and then onto the World Championships where I will throw 18m. I am determined to.”
Inglis can be proud of her effort in the women’s 5000m final, which became a battle between four very early on and stayed that way for much of the race. Inglis pushed as Germany’s Hanna Klein broke away and ensured a third-place finish in 15:45.23 and double figure points for the team, ten.
Like Inglis, West ensured the British team remained extremely competitive as the third and final day drew to a close, securing another ten points after third in the men’s 3000m final following a great run, which saw him clock 8:02.97.
In the men’s 3000m steeplechase final, Zak Seddon (Bracknell; Jeff Seddon) gutted it out to get nine points for the British team with a fourth-place finish. A slow start didn’t suit Seddon but he stayed as part of the four that broke away and clocked 8:30.89
Cindy Ofili (Woodford Green Essex Ladies), on her first British outing since placing an agonising fourth in the women’s 100m hurdles final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, went within 0.06 of her season’s best as she clocked 13.12 for fourth in a tight final in Bydgoszcz.
Jessica Judd (Blackburn; Mick Judd), who is having a fine season after claiming the World Student Games 5,000m title and also a world standard over the distance last month, battled in the conditions over a shorter distance, the women’s 1500m, to place sixth in 4:09.89 for seven important points.
European under-23 bronze medallist Cameron Fillery (Woodford Green Essex Ladies; Michael Baker) kickstarted the British charge on the track in the men’s 110m hurdles and followed up his great run in the heats with a 13.83 for seventh and the first points for the team on the final day.
Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon (Blackburn; Tore Gustafsson), competing for only the third time this season, threw a best of 63.23m for tenth in the women’s hammer while British No.1 in the men’s pole vault and with a world standard, Charlie (Middlesbrough; Chris Boundy), cleared 5.31m to also place tenth and secure three valuable points. In the men’s discus Greg Thompson (Shaftesbury Barnet; Neville Thompson) was tenth himself with a best of 55.71m.
Emma Nuttall (Edinburgh; Fuzz Caan), earning her first senior GB vest eight years after her last as a junior, unfortunately paid the price of early fouls in her series as she placed 11th in the women’s high jump.
Relishing her chance in Bydgoszcz but with a format of just four fouls allowed across a series, Nuttall cleared 1.70m clean but a foul at 1.75m and then two at 1.80m, meant she was in the last chance saloon at 1.85m and just narrowly failed with her only attempt.
Regarding the men’s 4x400m relay, which did not start its final, Performance Director Neil Black said: “It is gutting for the athletes involved. There was an error with the declaration process and we are exploring exactly what happened. We’ll be reviewing with those involved in detail over the next day or so. The athletes were amazing. They were informed and took it on the chin. It is the worst way to finish the event and we apologise to those who were looking forward to seeing the GB men’s 4x400m team doing battle as we know they would have competed with excellence.”