It was an impressive showing from the British team on day one of the inaugural European Youth Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.
After an impressive fourth place finish from Sophie Lewis-Ward (Noel Carmody) in the 5000m race walk this morning, there were also solid runs from Isaac Akers (Bill Boyd) and Alasdair Kinloch (Mark Hookway), who finished fifth and ninth in the 3000m final.
In a fast-paced race won by Serbia’s Elzab Bibic in 8:09.06, Akers just missed out on a bronze medal after being edged out on the last lap.
Akers said: “It cooled down a lot for our race, so I couldn’t have asked for any more. We went through the first lap in 63/64 so it was really quick, but with two laps to go, I thought I’d give it a really good go.
“I gave it 100% but the last 100m unfortunately I had nothing left this time, but I can honestly say I left everything on the track. I used the words of our team leaders and captains as inspiration and I couldn’t be prouder.”
After a strong start to her heptathlon campaign in the morning, Niamh Emerson (David Feeney) continued where she left off producing two lifetime bests in the shot put and 200m, to put her in clear medal contention ahead of the final day tomorrow.
The Amber Valley athlete, who equalled her 100m hurdles performance earlier on, added 13cm to her previous best in the shot put with a throw of 12.81m before revising her 200m personal best from 25.41 to 25.19. Going into day two, Emerson occupies the bronze medal position with 3579 points, just nine points off silver.
Emerson said: “I’m really happy – I was a bit disappointed with my hurdles time, but then I looked at it again after all the heats and thought it’s not that bad. My high jump was really scary because when I was at 1.79m on my third attempt, I was really stressed. I was so close at 1.88m, but I’m up on my other heptathlon that I did, so that’s really pleasing.
“It was great to come out and PB in the shot put and 200m and hope to do that in the javelin. Then on to the 800m, so we’ll see what happens.”
Set a lofty 2.11m for automatic qualification in the high jump, Joel Khan (Deidre Elmhirst) cleared 2.08m, which was enough to secure his passage through to Sunday’s showpiece final. As one of the youngest members of the team at 16, Khan had three successive first time clearances between 1.95m and 2.04m but needed three attempts to get over 2.08m. Just one centimetre under his lifetime best set in Bedford last month, Khan’s final jump showed that he is in personal best shape ahead of Sunday’s showpiece.
A delighted Khan said: “Going into my third jump (at 2.08m) I was definitely feeling the pressure, but I managed to push through it and get over the bar. It felt quite big – I didn’t feel the bar go under me, but I’ll take a look at the videos and come back Saturday and jump higher. There’s more to come for sure.
“In the final, I just want to jump better and get a PB. I knew it would be hard (2.11m), but I was confident I could get it if I need to.”
Despite being tripped midway through the 1500m, Jake Heyward (Paul Darney) took the race by the scruff of the neck leading for a large part of the race before qualifying fastest for the final in 3:58.71.
“I’m delighted – I just wanted to qualify without any problems. I made sure I got to the front early on because there was a bit of argy bargy, so I just stayed out of trouble to make sure I didn’t get tripped.
“I’m definitely going for gold. You should always go into a race wanting to win, otherwise there’s no point turning up.”
In the pole vault, Jessica Robinson (Ellie Spain) only had one foul up to clearing 3.85m, which ensured she will be in the final on Sunday evening.
It was an superb display of 800m running from Isabelle Boffey (Douglas Stone) and Anna Burt (Kevin Brunt), who both successfully navigated their way through to the semi-final, which takes place tomorrow evening.
Showing maturity beyond her years, Boffey went into the bell in last place, but eased her way through the field to finish first in 2:14.58, while the composed Burt crossed the line first despite a number of collisions in 2:13.60.
After two fouls in the javelin, Daniel Bainbridge (David Parker) produced a throw of 69.72m, which was good enough to take him through to the final in fourth place.
For a round-up of the morning action, please visit: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/media/news/2016-news-page/july-2016/14-07-16-euro-youths-am-day-one/