Pavey Gives GB & NI the Mother of all Starts
Just as she did at Glasgow 2014, Jo Pavey (coach: Gavin Pavey) defied her age once again to kick away from a stellar 10,000m field and take European Championship gold at the age of 40. After 5,000m bronze in Glasgow 10 days ago, all eyes were on the mother of two to see what she could do here in Zurich and she delivered, taking victory in 32.22.39.
The race itself was steady until the last 1,000m when eventual silver medallist Clemence Calvin of France took up the running and started to whittle the 15 woman group down to a more manageable size. By the time they reached 600m to go, it was down to four and Pavey was edging closer and closer to the front. At the bell, she made her move, taking the lead for the first time - it became apparent that it was a two horse race, one which Pavey finally won as she kicked off the final bend, extending her winning margin all the way to the line.
She said: “To be honest I didn’t feel that confident – it felt like a long way! I was thinking to myself during the later stages of the race ‘I don’t know if I feel very good here’ and I had to try and remind myself that you do feel like this at the end of a 10k!
“It’s just quite a long way. I didn’t feel that confident going into last two laps but I thought I’ve got to go for it and give it all I’ve got. It does feel really different at the end of a 10k - at the end of a 5 you feel ready to go, but I felt dead! I just can’t believe I’ve come away with a gold at this age. It took me a long time to know what I have had to learn about running and I just think being a busy mum has done me a lot of good!”
Young Scot Beth Potter (Mick Woods) also acquitted herself admirably but admitted she found the going tough when the pace really picked up towards the end, finishing fourteenth in 32.53.17.
“Since the Commonwealth Games I’ve just been really tired in training. I’ve had a breakthrough this year but I just think now it’s been a long season and I didn’t even expect to qualify for this,” she said.
On Pavey’s performance she added:
“I wasn’t sure if she’d won or not but I’ve just seen she did as I saw her out there with the flag. It’s really good and I’m taking inspiration from that, because if she’s doing it at 40 then she’s got 18 years on me!”
In the final race of the evening, Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) followed on from where she left off this morning, crushing her opposition to take an emphatic victory in the second 100m hurdles semi-final ensuring she got a good lane draw for tomorrow’s final. Her winning time of 12.63 was a season’s best and 0.16 quicker than her nearest rival.
“It was just a matter of finishing the race cleanly and executing well, and getting to tomorrow’s final,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty relaxed and my performances are pretty encouraging, but tomorrow is when it matters the most, so hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”
There was a qualifying hat-trick in round one of the men’s 100m, with Dwain Chambers (Reider), James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey winning their respective heats in convincing fashion.
Chambers was up first, and he ran the quickest time of the trio stopping the clock at 10.18. He was closely followed by Dasaolu who won his heat in 10.22, by perhaps the biggest margin of the three, with Aikines-Aryeetey capping off a perfect round with his 10.19 win. Afterwards, the elder statesman Chambers commented:
“It felt comfortable surprisingly – I’m really happy with that – I can go to bed happy now and just refocus for tomorrow. There has to be more and there will be more for obvious reasons. The heats are like an exam – it’s always nerve wracking but once the gun goes, you just run!”
In the heats of the 400m, Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) let the whole of Europe know that she is back and means business, with a confident winning performance. Running from lane six in the second of four heats, Ohuruogu looked strong in the home straight, stopping the clock at 51.40, the second fastest of the round. She’ll be hoping to step it up a gear in tomorrow evening’s semi-finals.
The men’s decathlon competition got more and more exciting as the day went on, with the hunt for the minor medals is still wide open. GB & NI’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ashley Bryant (Ian Grant) had a solid evening session, starting with first time clearances of every height up to 1.92m in the high jump, where he bowed out with 731 points.
Bryant ended the day with a 49.88 400m, leaving him with 3951 points at the halfway stage. After the 400m he reflected on his day’s efforts:
“It was a solid performance, it wasn’t spectacular but there wasn’t a disaster. In the long jump I corrected some errors that I made in Glasgow but it was during the long jump I realised my legs weren’t really with me. It’s been hard between Glasgow and now, I haven’t prepared how I would have liked for this. I’m in good shape, I just wished I’d had a few more days to recover.
“Tomorrow there’s a few good events; I think I’ve got a few good throws in me, I’ve just done a vault PB in Glasgow and in the hurdles I’m in great shape. I had a hand timed PB just before Glasgow so I know I am in great shape for that. If I can get a couple of PBs tomorrow it won’t make up for today but it’ll finish things off for me.”
Unfortunately it was a tough night for the GB & NI 800m boys as both Andrew Osagie (Craig Winrow) and Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg) failed to progress by fractions of a second. Both men have had their injury problems this year, with Osagie’s rearing in the closing stages as he dropped out of the qualifying positions.
“I was fine until the last 100m – I was working but not killing myself. But then at about 15-20 metres to go something went I think in my glute; I’ve been having problems with my whole sciatic pathway the whole year and I think it just blew out there. There was a lot of pain, a lot of uncomfortable pain. This year has been the worst year I’ve ever had; on the track and off the track it’s been horrible.”
The margin of defeat didn’t help things, as he missed out on a final spot by just 0.02 of a second. Rimmer went in the final heat, and instead of being fast it was a physical battle. The Sainsbury’s British champion found things a little too rough in the end, finishing sixth and missing the final by just 0.22 of a second.