It was a good afternoon session on day four at the European Championships with both men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams advancing in European leading times. There were also a number of British athletes competing in the International Para-Athletics Challenge.
There was comfortable progression for the women’s 4x400m relay quartet as they won their heat in a European leading time of 3:26.42. 400m Hurdler Eilidh Doyle (coach: Malcolm Arnold) is a valuable asset on the first leg for the British team, and stormed into the lead after running in lane six. She handed over to Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie), who then passed on to Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball) who both maintained a healthy lead over the Polish and Ukrainian teams. It was left to Seren Bundy-Davies (Ball) to expertly confirm the team’s place in tomorrow’s final, where they will be looking for an upgrade on the European bronze they won two years ago.
Doyle ran the fastest split of the quartet on the first lap, 51.15, cruising around to take a convincing lead. Adeoye ran a split of 51.85, whilst Massey was through in 51.34, and Bundy-Davies had enough time to relax and cross the line in 52.13.
Bundy-Davies said afterwards: “The girls ran so well before me, I didn’t have that much of a job to do. I think that is a really solid performance from the team. We have such depth to this team, whatever the line-up; it is going to be exciting tomorrow.”
The men’s 4x400m team matched the achievement of the women’s team, also setting a European leading time of 3:01.63 to win their heat and advance to the final.
On the first leg, Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) continued his fine relay form which saw him lead out the team to world bronze last August, as he handed over in first position to Delano Williams (Neil Harrison). The latter pushed on during the second leg but the silver medallist from the individual event, Pavel Maslak, powered the Czech Republic narrowly into the lead. However, Nigel Levine (Linford Christie) readdressed the situation to put the quartet back in the lead before handing over to Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt), who used his experience to book the team’s place in the final, as they look to retain their title from 2014.
Dunn, who ran on the anchor leg, commented: “The time was irrelevant today; it was all about qualifying in that winning position. The job is done and we have some strong guys to bring into the team. We know we can run even faster but it is a positive for now and looking towards Rio.”
Both Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Caan) and Chris Baker (Sharon Heveran) qualified for tomorrow’s men’s high jump final with relative ease. The Olympic bronze medallist, Grabarz, entered at 2.19m and cleared his first attempts at three heights up to 2.25m.
Grabarz spoke afterwards: “Three good jumps, it’s a good competition. The hard bit is done now so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Things have been a long time coming so I’m glad I’m finally getting there. It all starts tomorrow.”
It was serene progress for Baker as well who cleared 2.25m on the first time of asking. He had three first time clearances at heights prior to that one as he made his second European final after finishing 11th in Zurich two years ago.
There was also an International Para-Athletics Challenge following the session at the Olympic Stadium with several British athletes in action.
There was a good race win for Rhys Jones (Christian Malcolm) in the T37 100m Final, with a time of 12.01. The Welshman admitted that missing out on selection for the IPC Athletics European Championships last month gave him the motivation to work hard as he tries to book a place on the team to the Rio Paralympic Games.
Jones enjoyed the experience of competing at the Olympic Stadium, saying: “The atmosphere was electric; the reception for all the athletes was great. I’ve been dreading this race all week, wondering what the outcome would be – I would have liked sub-12 but I’ll take 12.01. The last few months have been really weird. I’ve been feeling good in myself but the performances haven’t been there on the track. It was a kick up the backside not going to the IPC Europeans in Grosseto, and I needed it.”
In the same race, George Fox (Derek Newton) ran the race of his career so far, the youngster posting a lifetime best of 12.61 in fourth with the City of Sheffield’s Jayden Saberton (Lee Walker), fifth in 12.68.
In the women’s T33/34 100m final, Shelby Watson (Ian Mirfin) was third with a time of 21.04 (+1.3) with Paige Murray (Job King) fifth in 21.32 and Sophie Taylor (Job King) eighth in 24.61.
Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) was third in the T43/44 200m Final, fading slightly in the last 40m to record a time of 28.59. The race was won by Paralympic 200m champion and four-time world champion Marlou van Rhijn, pleasing the Dutch crowd.
Full results from the European Championships can be found here: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2016/schedules-results/
British Athletics medal tally at the 23rd European Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – Women’s 200m
Martyn Rooney – Men’s 400m
Greg Rutherford – Men’s Long Jump
Jazmin Sawyers – Women’s Long Jump
Anyika Onuora – Women’s 400m
Tiffany Porter – Women’s 100m Hurdles
Danny Talbot – Men’s 200m