The British team claimed two further medals on the second day of the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, taking the tally up to six overall.
Among the medal winners were Chris O’Hare (Terrence Mahon, Edinburgh) who claimed 3000m silver in dramatic fashion, and Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham & Essex Beagles) taking 60m bronze in the penultimate event on the track.
O’Hare added European indoor 3000m silver to his 1500m bronze from these Championships four years ago, after a dramatic lunge for the line to take it ahead of Henrik Ingebrigtsen (NOR).
As the younger sibling Jakob took the title in 7:56.15, there was an entertaining conclusion to the race as the Norwegian Henrik deployed the lunge for the line, but the British athlete held on to claim silver despite the pair being given the same time of 7:57.19.
Prior to that, it was a relatively cagey affair over the opening half of the race, with the lead switching intermittently between the Norwegians and the British athletes. Andrew Butchart (Terrence Mahon, Edinburgh) and O’Hare featured early on, looking to take the pace on but that move was quickly snuffed out by the Norwegian brothers.
O’Hare moved into third position after taking on Sweden’s Jonas Leanderson with 500m to go, setting himself up for a battle with the Ingebrigtsen’s, senior and junior. As the pace picked up, the Edinburgh AC athlete showed his class, securing another spot on the podium, much to the delight of the Emirates Arena crowd.
After his lap of honour, O’Hare said: “I’m happy I split up the Ingebrigtsen’s and just being back on the medal podium, it’s been four years since I’ve been on the podium and it’s been a hell four years, so I wouldn’t change it, it’s made me the person I am today and hopefully this is another step forward.
“With 200m to go I thought I’ve got bronze and tried to give it everything I had to be on Henrik’s shoulder, and it took me a lot to get on his shoulder, but then round the bend the crowd just erupted, and it does kind of pick you up and chuck you towards the line.”
Reflecting on his latest medal-winning exploits, the Scottish athlete added: “Obviously every medal is different by way of what it took to get there – I got my first two as a rookie on the scene, now I’m kind of the old boy so it’s good to kind of get back on medal standing and be rewarded for four years hard work.”
Despite featuring near the head of the field for much of the 12 and a half laps, Butchart eventually finished tenth in 8:03.11, with debutant Sam Atkin (Rob Lewis, Lincoln Wellington) coming through strong for eighth in 8:01.43.
Quick out of the blocks, Philip was up in the mix for gold throughout the women’s 60m final and took the bronze medal – by just four thousandths of a second – in a time of 7.15, behind Eva Swoboda (POL) and Dafne Schippers (NED) who stopped the clock at 7.09 and 7.14 respectively.
Philip spoke afterwards, saying: “I’m still grateful that I’ve come back here and won a medal. Obviously, I wanted to win gold and retain my title, but you know that’s what happens in a final. It was a very messy race, but I kept my composure and I was still able to get a medal.”
On her narrowly edging teammate Kristal Awuah (Matthew Thomas, Herne Hill) into the medal places, Philip added: “Honestly I was so hurt to know I had taken it away from her – I could feel her and I thought she’d got it. We both had the exact same times and I was the fortunate one to get the bronze medal. I could see her future is so bright she is a talented, talented girl and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”
On the Championship, the 28-year-old said: “I love competing at home; it’s one of the best things any athlete can ask for and to have that roar from the crowd is amazing. Three rounds in a day is long, but we had a great speech from our team captain – we had a great evening last night ‘ladies’ night’ but I loved it and it gave me great confidence and I knew this was going to be such a great Championships.”
Double world junior bronze medallist Awuah ran a PB for fourth place – the same time as her teammate – and will leave these Championships with her head held high as she came of age at her first senior Europeans, taking the notable scalp of world indoor bronze medallist Mujinga Kambungji (SUI) among others along the way.
Awuah added: “My aim was to put my race together better and to add a little bit more because it’s the final and to come away with a medal but that didn’t happen. I’ve learnt a lot about myself today and I came away with a PB which is massive for me heading into the outdoor season. Everything has come so quickly and I’m amazed with how quickly I’ve improved over my 60m and I’m looking forward to getting quicker and stronger.”
In the earlier semi-finals, Philip progressed as heat three winner, clocking a solid 7.19. A fine 7.22 for Awuah left her just outside the automatic qualifying spots so a nervous wait followed, sitting in the ‘hotseat’ trackside. However, her time was the fastest of the two non-automatic qualifier spots.
In the second of the semi-finals, in a strong heat, Rachel Miller (Linford Christie, Thames Valley) placed fourth in 7.37, so missed out on progressing with her compatriots.
In the final event of the night, the British duo Richard Kilty (Benke Blomkvist, Middlesbrough Mandale) and Ojie Edoburun (Fudge, Shaftesbury Barnet) were left chasing the field in the men’s 60m final, placing fourth and seventh respectively.
Two-time European indoor and world indoor champion Kilty placed fourth, agonisingly out of the medals. The 29-year-old geared himself up for the final with a time of 6.64 in the semis, matching the time of Konstadinos Zikos (GRE) who was given the win as they looked towards the thousandths. But the 6.66 in the final left him outside the podium places as Jan Volko (SVK) took gold in 6.60.
Out in lane one, Edoburun clocked 6.67, slightly outside the 6.63 which saw him progress to the final as a fastest non-automatic qualifier earlier in the session.
Over in the high jump, Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft; Sale Harriers Manchester) was a fourth-place finisher, just missing out on the medal places but left the arena content at his performance over the two days.
Baker cleared 2.22m first time, but like a several others in the field, he did not get over 2.26m, with only three athletes making that height; Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi taking the title with a best of 2.32m.
“I’m happy to come fourth in Europe,” commented Baker, “We were all really good jumpers out in that final. We had to get through from yesterday, come back a day later and try to do the same again when we all hit our limits yesterday. It’s basically a really hard thing to do.
“Fair play to the guys that beat me but I’m happy to come fourth place. A medal’s a medal, but if you’d have told me coming into the champs it would be a fourth place I’d have bitten your arm off so no I’m happy.”
Tim Duckworth’s (Toby Stevenson, Liverpool) search for a first senior medal on the international stage began strongly on day one, finishing the day in pole position on 3533 points, 58 ahead of his nearest rival.
The Liverpool athlete took a 38-point lead at the top of the men’s heptathlon leader board following the 60m and long jump from the morning session. Duckworth kicked off his campaign with a 6.85 clocking over 60m for 936 points.
Come the long jump, Duckworth’s first effort proved to be his best, as a season’s best leap of 7.79m – just 1cm short of his previous best mark indoors – saw the Liverpool Harrier wrestle the lead from Karl Robert Saluri (EST) and move out in front on 1943 points to the Estonian’s 1905.
The standings changed hands at the top after the shot put, a mark of 12.97m was some way down on his season’s best of 13.27m but added a further 665 points to the tally overall. It moved him down into bronze medal position, just 33 points behind Norwegian Martin Roe, a sixth placer at last year’s European outdoors in the decathlon.
However, after clattering the bar head first at 1.95m in the high jump, Roe bowed out of the competition, and second placer Karl Robert Saluri (EST) did not start, so it opened the door for Duckworth and co.
Duckworth cleared 2.13m – the leading height of all the heptathletes on the day – after a smooth series to add a valuable 925 points to his tally, a mark that was just four centimetres outside his career best.
3533 points after four events sees the British man lead the event by 58 points from Sweden’s Fredrik Samuelsson. The heptathlon gets back underway at 10:06 on Sunday with the 60m hurdles and Duckworth said: “It wasn’t bad, a little rusty because I haven’t competed very much this season but it was OK except for the shot put.
“I need to start strong tomorrow, the goal is to have a good hurdle race and keep the momentum going from there. I have run 8.10 this year with no competition so I am hoping with competition, I can get sub-8 and go with it.
“The shot put showed the rust that I have in the competition setting. I was throwing really well in warm up, which is why it was frustrating. I am after specific points, if I score what I want to score I can’t really be too mad at what I have done. I try not to judge it too much on place.”
The first action on the track saw three British women go in the 800m semi-finals which ended in two making their way in to Sunday’s finale.
With the first three from each semi-final progressing, it looked like Mari Smith (Bud Baldaro, Birchfield Harriers) and Adelle Tracey (Craig Winrow, Guildford & Goldalming) were both set to miss out on a final place as they made their way around the final bend, but a magnificent final push by debutant Smith saw her reach a maiden European indoor final, but Tracey just missed out.
Smith rounded reigning European indoor champion Selina Buchel (SUI) with a matter of metres to spare, clocking 2:02.93 to her Swiss counterparts 2:02.98. Tracey missed out after crossing the line fifth in 2:03.26.
A shocked Smith spoke post-race: “It feels pretty good, I don’t think it has sunk in yet. It played out exactly how I’d dreamed – I just stayed with them long enough to show my strength in the last 200m.
“I just planned to try and stay with the group – as I say – as long as I could, and then I had to make my move because I ended up wider that I thought I was going to be so thought ‘now’s the time, now’s the time, time to dig!’ I’m going to be dead after this next run, that’s the aim. There’s only 6 in the final so I’ve done pretty well to get there. I’ll just be running for fun!”
In the second of two semi-finals, 2017 silver medallist Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) showed great composure to earn an automatic qualifying spot, finishing second in 2:03.11 behind France’s Renelle Lamote. Manoeuvring in the perfect position, she unleashed a final burst in the last 100m to see her advance with ease for another tilt at the European title.
In the men’s 800m semi-finals, another three British athletes lined-up against the continent’s best, but there were mixed fortunes for the trio.
The second heat was the most dramatic of the two with Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb, Liverpool Harriers) ultimately progressing in second place in 1:48.85, but team captain Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray, Lasswade) fell on the third lap and was later disqualified, meaning Irish athlete Mark English advanced to the final shake-up tomorrow.
For Webb, he pushed on in the latter stages, just missing out on the win by 0.01s as the Spaniard Mariano Garcia made a late charge for the line. Nevertheless, the Liverpool Harrier will feature in his first European final on Sunday.
Webb spoke afterwards: “It was a really aggressive race, I got boxed in, so I had to move really aggressively with 230/240m to go – it stings you a bit at the end, but I had to close a five-ten metre gap probably when they moved, and I was boxed in…but it’s a championship. I’m through and I’m there tomorrow. I’m in contention. I’m right with everyone. There’s no one who is standing out and the championship is there for the taking.”
On his expectations for the final on Sunday, he added: “Medal tomorrow – hopefully a shiny one.”
In the first semi-final, Joe Reid (Matt Elias; Cardiff) found the going tough in a race that ended in a burn-up on the final lap. Going into the final lap at the back of the field, the Cardiff-based athlete tried his best to get in the mix in the final hustle, but it was to no avail, crossing the line sixth in 1:51.26.
Action continues on Sunday morning from 10:00am. The timetable for the championships can be found via https://bit.ly/2VwqMRX and there is live coverage on BBC2 from 9:30am.
British medal tally (6):
Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Pentathlon
Laura Muir – 3000m
Niamh Emerson – Pentathlon
Chris O’Hare – 3000m
Melissa Courtney – 3000m
Asha Philip – 60m