Strong start for GB & NI on day two in Sopot
Great Britain & Northern Ireland got off to a flying start of day two of the World Indoor Championships with six athletes and both 4x400m relay teams making it through their respective heats in Sopot, Poland.
William Sharman (coach: Jerzy Maciukiewicz) got the team underway and didn’t disappoint as the 29 year old recorded a personal best of 7.59 on his way to victory in the third heat of the 60m hurdles.
“It wasn’t a perfect race, but I’m delighted to win and record a personal best,” said Sharman. Four meets, four PB’s, so we’ll take it from there and see what happens tomorrow.”
Andrew Pozzi (Malcolm Arnold), who shared the British title with Sharman at the Sainsbury’s British Championships last month, continued the perfect start for GB & NI clocking 7.56 - the joint fastest time of the round and an equalling his personal best in the process. The 21 year old has only made a recently returned from a year out through injury, but was happy with the start to his hurdles campaign.
Pozzi said: “It was a great start but I feel sorry for my roommate Jamie Bowie having to get up at 6.30am with me. It’s always tough being in lane one with the faster guys on the other side of the track from me so I was a bit concerned about that. For me I was just focusing on my race and get a good start. It was a good first round and I couldn’t have asked for much more.”
Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) made it three victories in three events, as the British champion went through her opening heat in first place in 7.18. GB & NI’s youngest member of the team Sophie Papps (Dan Cossins) equalled her personal best of 7.22 to advance to the semi-finals in second place behind world leader Murielle Ahoure.
“I’ve got the first run out of the way,” Philip admitted. “Hopefully my legs will be fresh tomorrow and I should be good.
“I didn’t want to take it too easy because you never know what can happen out there. Dafne Schippers wasn’t that far apart from me and she’s a really good runner. I knew she was going to push me the whole way. I got through and that’s the main thing. Tomorrow should be a good day.”
GB & NI debutant Papps was delighted to secure her place in the next round and believes that there is plenty more to come from her in tomorrow’s semi-final.
“I feel really good. Technically I think my race was good so I can’t complain about it. The start we can improve for the next round. I’m hoping I can go out for the next race and push it,” said Papps, who is part of British Athletics’ Futures Programme.
Both 4x400m relay teams topped their respective heats and qualified comfortably for the final. The men’s quartet of Conrad Williams (Linford Christie), Michael Bingham (George Williams), Jamie Bowie (Piotr Haczek) and Luke Lennon-Ford (Christie) maintained a lead throughout and eased over the line in a season’s best of 3:06.09.
Bingham said: “It’s a huge pressure off (reaching the final); qualification is always the hardest part. After that in the next round you just compete and whatever happens, happens. I’m excited for tomorrow as are the other guys.”
The women’s team followed the same example with GB & NI captain Eilidh Child (Arnold) giving the lead to Shana Cox (George Williams) before sisters Victoria and Christine Ohuruogu (both Lloyd Cowan) bought the baton home in another season’s best of 3:30.60.
Reflecting on the performance, Christine Ohuruogu said: “This year was about putting in an experienced team we are defending world champions so it was really important we put girls who know how to run indoors and are confident. All we can do is defend our title.”
Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) successfully navigated their way through to the long jump final after jumps of 6.69m and 6.60m left them in third and sixth place respectively.
Proctor said: “I couldn’t be happier, that’s all I needed to do. I didn’t get the big Q, but I was third in qualifying and good enough to make the final. I always come out to challenge for the medals and I feel in great shape.”
Multi-event specialist Johnson-Thompson added: “I got through to the final which is what I wanted. I got three clear jumps and I got on the board. I had a bit of trouble in the warm-up with that as it’s a fast track and I went quite over it (the board). Getting through to the final is the hardest part of the competition as we are all grouped together.”
After three failures at 2.28m in the men’s high jump, Birmingham-based duo Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed) and Tom Parsons (Aston Moore) bowed out of the competition at the Ergo Arena.
Grabarz said: “I did expect a lot more of myself and I’m disappointed with today. I didn’t put myself in the right position to do it and it wasn’t even difficult to make the final which makes it more frustrating. I move on and jump higher outdoors.”
Parsons added: “I just wasn’t clinical enough. I had height and was coming off the floor pretty well but just not quite executing well enough to do it. It’s tough to take because last time I did World Indoors I missed out and the same thing happened today. There was more than 2.25m on that track but you have got to get everything right.