Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie) showed exactly why she was crowned world junior 100m champion in 2014 as she stormed to victory in her 60m heat with a 7.10 personal best. On the fast track here at the O2 Arena in Prague, she stormed out of the blocks to record the joint second fastest time of the round.
“It was a heat so I basically tried to control it so I could get into the semis. At the same time I’m really chuffed with the time, I’m over the moon. I really wasn’t expecting to run that quickly. I’m really happy.”
Rachel Johncock (Leon Baptiste) went in the heat before Asher-Smith, and she continued to show the form that have got her too these championships, finishing third in 7.26 just two hundredths down on her personal best. With four automatic semi-final spots on offer in each heat it was a case of job done for the Welsh sprinter.
“I’m happy and happy to qualify automatically. I didn’t want to waste too much energy so its job done and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
That laid down the gauntlet for the men and Richard Kilty (Linford Christie) didn’t disappoint, winning the second semi-final with ease in 6.57. Like Asher-Smith, Kilty is a reigning world champion after 60m victory in Sopot last year, and he’ll been keen to add the European crown to his collection.
“It was very easy. I started to relax after the first 20 metres. I didn’t even get into my final gear so to run 6.57 is very, very promising. I’m just enjoying myself out there. It’s great, and I’m hoping to continue to do that tomorrow.”
Next up was Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) and he emulated teammate Kilty, winning heat four at a canter in the same time, 6.57. That saw the pair qualify joint fastest for tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Finally it was the turn of debutant Sean Safo-Antwi (Tawiah-Dodoo), and he too booked his spot in the next round with a third place finish in the final heat with a 6.67 clocking.
Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) and Charlie Grice (John Bigg) showed why they are reigning European Championships bronze and European U23 Championships silver medallists respectively, winning their respective heats in impressive fashion.
O’Hare had to contend with the suicidal front running tactics of Ilham Ozbilen, the now Turkish athlete passing 800m in 1.51. But the Scot wasn’t fazed, slowly reeling in the long-time leader to win the heat in 3.41.83. With only two automatic final spots up for grabs he knew he had a job to do.
“I was racing for one spot. It’s always a bit more of a dangerous strategy. I was pretty comfortable and I just needed to crank it up in the last few laps. I was running at 75-80 percent. I thought about opening it up all the way but there was no point.”
As for Grice, the seeding wasn’t favourable, but he made a decisive move with 500m remaining, taking the lead and slowly winding it up all the way to the line. It was a smart move, as the pace was slow and he had to ensure he finished in the top two. Naturally he was pleased to win in 3.48.98.
“I’m really pleased. I knew I had to be on my A game today. It was tough qualifying with only the first two spots so there was no room for error. I’m delighted to come through and get the win.
“I definitely want to medal. I’m feeling really good so there’s no reason why I can’t execute the race I want to. I feel well equipped, the speed and my endurance is there.”
Allan Smith (Brian Roy) was the only British athlete in action in the field this morning, and he was looking for a 2.31m personal best if he was to automatically advance to tomorrow’s final. In the end though 2.28m was his nemesis, mean he won’t advance to tomorrow’s final.
Full coverage can been across the BBC all weekend, via BBC 1, BBC 2, the red button and online at bbc.co.uk/sport.
Live results throughout the weekend can be found at: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-indoor-championships/2015/schedules-results/
There will also be live commentary of all the action via @BritAthletics on twitter, as well as session by session reports at www.britishathletics.org.uk