It was a morning of mixed fortunes for the British team at the European Championships in Amsterdam with several athletes advancing to the next stage of competition, and decathlete Ashley Bryant (coach: Aston Moore) adding valuable points to his tally in three more disciplines.
Bryant kicked off day two of the decathlon with a time of 14.68 (-1.0) in the 110m hurdles for 889 points. Despite clipping a couple of hurdles, Bryant remained upright whilst some of his fellow competitors hit the deck in earlier heats. This temporarily moved him up to tenth in the overall standings.
A season’s best of 43.62m in the discus followed, and this saw Bryant move up to eighth in the standings. After two efforts of 42.85m and 42.98m, he unleashed his best effort under pressure to make a move up the leader board. Next up was the pole vault and he exceeded his season’s best, sailing over 4.60m with his first attempt at the height. This leaves him on 6426 points overall with only two events remaining tonight, the javelin and the 1500m.
Julian Reid (Moore) qualified with an impressive 16.62m jump on his second attempt, his best in 2016, to make it into Saturday’s final. After missing out on a place in the final at his last three major championships, it was fourth time lucky for Reid who will compete in his first ever European triple jump final.
Reid commented after his leap: “I am more pleased to reach the final than getting a season best. Although, the distance does give me a lot more confidence going towards the final but I will be pushing for a better distance then. It is my first senior championships final so I’m hoping to go out there and just try to be aggressive. I’ll go out there and see what I can achieve.”
Team captain Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore) won silver at the event in Gothenburg ten years ago but couldn’t repeat that feat in the Netherlands. After injury woes in recent years, Douglas was delighted to be back competing in a British vest at a major championship once again but he could not progress after a jump of 16.33m left him 15th with only the top 12 going through.
Elliot Giles (Matthew Yates) looked in fine form as he won his heat in 1:50.31 to advance to the semi-finals on his senior debut in a British vest. The 22 year-old missed two and a half years of running from January 2012 to May 2015 after a motorcycle accident. However, the British champion has returned in impressive form so far in 2016, running his personal best earlier this year in addition to making it through the rounds in Amsterdam. The Birchfield athlete ran a controlled race and held the inside line before confirming his victory with a strong last 100m.
Giles commented: “It was a really good run. I got boxed in at one point but I knew (Marcin) Lewandowski has a strong finish so I went with him and felt really comfortable. Instead of panicking, I stayed calm. I had enough strength to get there in the end and just cruised the last 100m.
“There is much more to come. That was much easier than the British Championships; there wasn’t really a moment where I felt uncomfortable. Tactically, it was probably a bad run as I got boxed in but it is the result that counts. I only ever run to win, that is my only goal.”
In the final heat, another athlete making his senior British debut Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb) was in contention with 100m to go but faded and crossed the line in 1:53.75. Unfortunately, that was not enough to advance through to the semi-final stages.
Over at museum square, Goldie Sayers (Mark Roberson) missed out on a berth in the women’s javelin final after throwing a best of 53.56m over her series of three throws. An ever-present member of the British team for many years, Sayers threw 52.60m and fouled her third which left her in 26th overall with only the top 12 going through to contest for the medals later in the week.
After struggling with a knee injury in 2016, Zharnel Hughes could not progress from the men’s 200m heats. He posted a time of 21.21 (-1.1) to finish seventh.
Hughes commented after his race: “I’m not happy with that at all; I wanted to be going to the Olympics. Unfortunately, my knee has been getting in the way but I still managed to make it over here. That in itself was a stepping stone but it was just my knee wasn’t ready for today. I need to rest up now and get myself sorted for next year.”
On the injury, he added: “I damaged my ligaments in my right knee. I fell down in a race earlier in the season and from then; it has been injured until a month ago.”
Full results from the European Championships can be found here: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2016/schedules-results/