Jake Norris (coach: Paul Dickenson) and Niamh Emerson (David Feeney) extended their British U18 record on their way to winning hammer silver and heptathlon bronze, while Lucy Pygott (Mick Woods) set a new lifetime best to win bronze in the 3000m at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Norris added nearly a metre to his previous best in the hammer to finish with 79.20m to win the British team’s first medal of the championships.
The newly crowned World Youth silver medallist said: “I’m delighted – I don’t think I could even explain how I feel right now. The last few days of being ill and not being at my best, I really didn’t expect to win a silver and get a personal best today. I have to say a big thank you to the doctor for getting me through the last few days.
“Seeing that (four British athletes qualifying for the Olympics) makes me want to do even better and at the moment I’m ahead of where those guys were so if I can keep up that progression, hopefully I can make a Games too.”
After a gruelling two days in the heptathlon, Emerson recorded a score of 5919, adding over 104 points to her previous British U18 record. The 17 year old set four personal bests across the seven events and finished in style leading from start to win the 800m in 2:12.65 – just 0.19 outside her best set in 2014.
Emerson said: “I couldn’t be happier, everything went perfectly. My long jump and hurdles were a bit frustrating as was the high jump, which I pulled out on last attempt. I was solid and secure in everything and I ran for my life in the 800m.
“I can’t wait to just lie in, sit down and take in the next few days. Being a team captain to this team is crazy, because the standard is so high. As I was one of the first to compete, hopefully it will give them all a little bit of inspiration.”
It was a superb display of distance running by Pygott, as the Aldershot, Farnham & District athlete battled her way into the lead group to finish in an impressive 9:28.15 for a well-deserved bronze medal. Pygott’s teammate Kathleen Faes (Nikolaas Faes) produced a gutsy display to cross the line in fifth place.
After a successful qualification from this morning’s heats of the 110m hurdles, Ethan Akanni (Tony Jarrett) and Jason Nicholson (Janice Kaufman) both secured their places in the final, which takes place tomorrow.
After running 13.65, narrowly outside his personal best, Akanni said: “I feel great after my semi-final as my heat wasn’t the best of races, but I’m ready to put it all in place ready for my final. I’m just really happy – to get through to the final is amazing as that’s been my main aim in these championships.”
“It feels amazing to have the honour of wearing the British kit especially in an occasion like this. My coach (Tony Jarrett) has definitely been my inspiration as he was my idol before I even met him.”
It was business as usual for the two girls in the 800m, as Isabelle Boffey (Douglas Stone) and Anna Burt (Kevin Brunt) won their semi-finals in dominant fashion ensuring that they will progress to the final.
Boffey, who was ranked eighth in Europe going into the championships said: “Coming into it and having never run for GB before, my aim was definitely to get to the final. Now I’m in the final, I’m really ready to go for it. The ultimate goal is gold, I think everybody would say that, but any medal would make me really happy.”
Alisha Rees (Willy Russell) showed that there is plenty more to come from her as she cruised through to the 200m semi-final in a time of 23.82. The Edinburgh AC athlete took her foot off the gas with 10 metres to go, but was within two-tenths of a second off her personal best which currently stands at 23.64.
Rees said: “It was quite a good time – I didn’t think I was going to go that fast because of the heat, but I’m happy to get through to the semi-final. I can definitely do a lot more and hoping to go closer to my PB end considering I slowed down at the end.”
In the male equivalent, it was mixed fortunes for the British duo. Joseph Massimo (Stephen King) pulled up after the first bend with a hamstring injury, but like Derek Redmond did at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, he soldiered on to finish the race.
His teammate, Jona Efoloko (John Smith) looked in superb form as he cruised to victory in 21.92, with the Sale Harrier having the luxury of easing down in the last 30 metres.
Efoloko said afterwards: “I felt quite comfortable – my coach told me to attack the bend and see where I was after the straight. I saw that I had a comfortable gap, so I thought I’d save my energy for tomorrow.”
Ellis Greatrex (Claudio Albanese) secured his place in the 400m final courtesy of finishing second in his heat in 48.45.
Unfortunately George Groom (Stephen Murphy) did not progress from the heats of the 2000m steeplechase despite a brave run, which saw him lead the field for a large majority of the race.
For a round-up of the morning action, please visit: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/media/news/2016-news-page/july-2016/15-07-16-euro-youths-am-day-two/
British medals at the European Youth Championships, Tbilisi, Georgia:
Jake Norris (hammer)
Niamh Emerson (heptathlon)
Lucy Pygott (3000m)