David Omoregie (coach: Benke Blomkvist) bagged his first international title as he ran a virtually flawless race to bag 110mH victory on day three of the European U23 Championships.
The Welshman, who started the final as favourite, got a flying start and never looked back. Leading over the first few flights, the World Junior Championship bronze medallist held his nerve to take gold in 13.63 (-1.5m/s).
“It feels amazing. This is so big – it’s the first time I’ve won! I hope I can look back on this in a few years and say that was the point when I became a great competitor.
“I thought it was a good race. I got out really well and I think the first five hurdles were great. I think I hit the penultimate hurdle, which kind of knocked me off a bit, but other than that it was a really good race – I can’t complain. Everything that we worked on in training – with my new coach Benke Blomkvist – just came through really. I’ve learnt to bring my trail leg through quickly and run fast between the hurdles and it’s just all come together.”
There was disappointment for Omoregie’s namesake David King (James Hillier) as he had to settle for fourth in 13.90, just four hundredths shy of a bronze.
In the final event of the evening, 200m man Leon Reid (Hillier) lined up in lane six, two lanes outside his biggest rival Karol Zalewski. After winning his semi-final with ease earlier in the evening, Reid got another good start but trailed slightly coming into the straight. Edging back alongside Zalewski, the reigning European Junior Championship silver medallist couldn’t quite pass the Polish athlete, so settled for silver. It was great performance by the young sprinter, who was just one hundredth shy of his personal best with his 20.63 clocking.
“It’s good and bad. I know I could have got gold but I tightened up at the end, but I’m still happy. I’ve got my coach a medal, which is what he wanted, so it’s good. I can’t make excuses as he’s [the winner] really strong and went 20.4, 20.5, 20.5, so to run three World Champs qualifiers in three rounds, you can’t really knock that. We were neck and neck but I just tightened up. The goal is to get medals for the country, it’s just a shame it’s the wrong colour.”
Chris Kandu (Fuzz Ahmed) was the only British field eventer in action this evening, and he cleared a season’s best 2.21m in the high jump to win bronze. With first time clearances all the way up to 2.18m, he cleared 2.21m with his second attempt but couldn’t quite scale 2.24m. It was a first international medal for the Enfield & Haringey man, in a competition won by Ilya Ivanuk in an outstanding 2.30m.
“I should be grateful but personally I’m disappointed with the height, as I should have come away with better. I’ve done so well in training but I just couldn’t produce what I wanted to. At the end of the day though I have to be grateful as I’ve got my first international medal. This is just the beginning as I obviously want a lot more and a different colour, specifically the gold. It’s definitely a confidence booster moving forward.”
Neil Gourley (Gordon Lockie) proved why you should always fight until the line as he snatched bronze in a frantic men’s 1500m final. Sitting towards the back of the field for most of the race, the Scot attacked off the final bend to run down Bussotti Neves Junior of Italy in the final couple of strides.
“I left it a little bit late! There was a lot of pushing and shoving as I thought there would be and it was a bit of a burn up on the last lap. I knew if I was patient I’d be in with a chance of a medal and I waited until what I thought was the right time and then went. I just attacked, and I suppose I did leave it too late but I’m happy to pick up a medal.
“These are the kinds of things you have aspirations of doing as a child so it’s great to get my first experience of that and be on the podium representing Great Britain. You can’t get better than that! I knew I’d given myself a lot to do but I was just hoping the gaps would open up and luckily they did.”
In a race that got quicker and quicker throughout, Cameron Boyek (David Lowes) got boxed in on the inside, unable to find a gap in the closing stages. Finishing seventh in 3.45.74, less than a second down on his teammate, Boyek was clearly frustrated with his performance.
“My positioning was awful and I just got boxed in with. With 200m to go I was still stuck and the only time I saw a gap was with 100m to go when the race was already over. I got my positioning completely wrong from the start and there was no getting out of it. It’s something to learn from but I feel like I’ve just wasted an opportunity as I felt good with 400m to go.”
There were more medals up for grabs in the women’s 400m final as Kirsten McAslan (Trevor Painter) and Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) lined up in lanes two and five respectively. Qualifying as fourth and fifth fastest, the duo replicated that feat again, but were disappointed they couldn’t get amongst the medals.
“I’m really disappointed” said Bundy-Davies post race. “I just felt really weak coming into the home-straight. I felt really good in the heat so to feel that weak in the best part of my race was really disappointing. I came here and I really wanted to win, so it’s really tough. I did all I could but sometimes on the day you just don’t have the legs.”
After running a terrific personal best of 52.13 in the heats, McAslan hoped she could even faster in the final.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with that as I wanted to maybe sneak another place or two and I was hoping that I might run another PB. My race on Thursday [where she ran a PB] might have taken more out of me than I thought but I came in ranked fifth and I finished fifth, so there’s not a lot more you can do!”
In the women’s 800m final Adelle Tracey (Craig Winrow) gave herself the best possible chance of winning a medal, moving into third round the final bend in a very fast race. Gritting her teeth she couldn’t quite hold on though, as despite running 2.01.66 which is just two tenths outside her personal best, she had to settle for fourth.
“Obviously I’m gutted with fourth, to be just outside the medals having been in the medal position for a fraction of a second. But I gave it everything and left it all on the track – I don’t think I could have possibly done any more so I’ve got to be happy with that.”
Katie Snowdon (Alasdair Donaldson) employed the opposite tactics, sitting right at the back of the field and hoping to move through in the later stages. She did just that, moving up to take a very credible sixth down the home-straight.
Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim) put himself in all of the right places in the men’s 5,000m final but came up just short in his bid to win a medal. Running in the chase pack all the way, as Ali Kaya front ran a CBP of 13.20, Davies tried to push on with 800m to go, but he couldn’t get away. In the end the minor medals were decided over the final 400m, where Davies didn’t quite have the legs and so had to settle for sixth in 13.58 after a 2.35 last kilometre.
“It pretty much went to plan until 4km and so with 700m to go I took it on but then I saw of lost it over the next 200m. Once I got it back together they were sort of gone. I wanted a medal and I honestly thinking I was capable of doing it if I got everything right, but I didn’t. I guess that’s what these championships are for though, to learn and get it right in the future.”
The first final of the evening brought with it torrential downpours, just as during the heats of the women’s 3000m steeplechase two days ago. In action for GB & NI were both Elizabeth Bird (George Harrison) and Iona Lake (Pauline Ash), who both really committed to the cause in a race won in a championship record. Lake ended up best placed of pair, passing Bird down the home-straight as they finished 8th and 12th respectively.
“That was hard – my legs were like jelly! I’ve never done a heat and a final in the steeple before and I think that’ll take some getting used to. Everyone went off so quick and I’ve never been in a steeple that was that packed before, which was quite scary. The first barriers were awful – I find it hard to eye up the barriers when people are in front of me. Usually I’m in really spaced out races and I hurdle a lot better, so I’ll have to practice that. I can’t complain but you always want more in a championship.”
After a slightly nervous wait there was good news for Shona Richards (Marina Armstrong) who progresses to tomorrow’s 400mH final as a fastest loser. Getting out well through the first 200m, the World Junior silver medallist clocked a season’s best of 56.99 to finish fifth in semi-final one, enough to see her through. With it all to play for in the final, Richards hopes she can put together a cleaner race on the night.
“The race was ok, although very messy at the end, but I’m just happy I’ve qualified – I just need to sort out my strides and my hurdling now. I’m finding it quite hard to attack the hurdles and so I’m losing quite a lot of time in the air, but at least I’ve got stuff I can work on. Hopefully I can surprise myself in the final; my coach expects a lot of me and I expect a lot so I just need to execute my race.”
It was agonisingly close for Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb) as he missed a spot in the men’s 800m final by just one tenth of second. Drawn in the second, slower semi-final, he chose to stick to the inside, hoping that a gap would open up. It wasn’t to be though as he was trapped behind a wall of bodies down the home-straight, finishing fourth in 1.50.04.
With the women’s 4x400m heats being cancelled late last night, Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) was the only GB & NI athlete in action on Saturday morning, and she put in a captain’s performance to progress to the women’s long jump final. Producing a second round effort of 6.43m, the European Junior silver medallist was able to pass her final attempt knowing she was comfortably in the top twelve.
“That’s better than usual for a qualifying round as I usually only manage 6.20 or 6.30, so 6.40+ is good and I’m happy with it. Being one of the last to jump it was clear that I was going to get through so I didn’t have to take three jumps. I like it out there and I was on the board, which is something I’ve been struggling with recently, so I’m happy. Being team captain I feel I’ve got a responsibility to lead by example so I’ll be giving it all I’ve got and competing to the best of my ability.”
For full results please head to: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-u23-championships/2015/schedules-results/