While most British eyes were set on Lisa Dobriskey‘s efforts in Monaco on Friday night, Hannah England stepped out of the shadow of the world silver medalist to turn in a stunning display that saw her storm down the home straight to third place from a qualify field in a world class PB of 4:01.89 in the 1500m in distant Barcelona.
Even the most enterprising script writers would have hardly come up with such a turn in the plot of the qualifying tussle for places in Daegu and maybe even Hannah herself may have not envisaged emerging as such a revelation at the far end of her venture, yet it was an assured and inspired performance every step of the way from a new-look athlete that asserted herself with confidence into the race.
Even the lack of tactical awareness of the past wasn’t there and in that stead was a performer who knew what she wanted all along, was getting into the right positions at the right times and built up beautifully round the last lap to set up that flowing finish past World U20 champion Mercy Cherono (KEN, 4:02.31) and Mimi Gelete (BRN, 4:03.16) in the late stages, also claiming the scalp of European champion Nuria Hernandez (ESP, 4:04.64).
Her new mark saw her storm the top of the British rankings this season, moving up to 12th in the respective all-time lists and 10th in the world on top, and she will be heading to Birmingham as favourite to clinch the UK title against mainly Dobriskey, who also grabbed the A qualifying standard in a SB of 4:04.76 on the same night. England’s previous best, incidentally, stood to 4:04.29 set in Monaco two years ago.
Winner of that fast affair in Barcelona was Russian Ekaterina Gorbunova, rather surprisingly missing from the concurrent Russian Championships, in a huge PB of 4:01.02 to edge out Spaniard Natalia Rodriguez, who set 4:01.50.
The women’s 400m turning-point…
Fate would have it that the race that may shape the turnround of fortunes in the heavily-decorated women’s 400m be staged in the Catalan capital rather than a British venue with all three top contenders out to make a point.
Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu on the back of a thin racing season without yet breaking even 53 secs on the way; former world silver medalist Nicola Sanders aiming to boost her footing on the track following a few lower-key races in the 52 secs province; and Lee McConnell hoping to return on the domestic top of the event after years.
The final outcome handed smiles all around as Ohuguogu edged victory in a huge SB of 51.49 secs, creeping inside the A standard, to make plenty of ground on her global rivals, McConnell came third in 51.70 secs just behind Olga Topilskaya (RUS), 51.68 secs, and Sanders knocked a chunk off her SB into 51.94 secs earning her a first B standard for Daegu – the look on her face at the end said it all.
And suddenly, with Shana Cox awaiting to test them at the Trials in Birmingham, the event comes alive again and hope of a return to the centre of affairs on the global scene is rekindled.
A new beginning…
The Catalonian meeting also turned a happy ground for Kate Dennison who soared over a new PB of 4.61m in the pole vault, at the first time of asking at that, to shrug off a long tough building-from-scratch spell and get back on track to fulfil her potential – her perseverance has paid off and she can now look up to greater heights.
Cuban Yarisley Silva prevailed with a second-time new national record of 4.66m while Nikol Kyriakopoulou (GRE) was third at 4.50m.
Turner comes out a surprise winner
European champion Andy Turner stretched his impressive string of results to stage an upset on world record holder Dayron Robles, who pulled up midway through as he went off balance to draw well inside the adjacent lane.
Relentless in his pursuit, Turner swiftly seized the lead and kept his form nicely all the way to cross the line top in 13.33 secs (-0.2m/sec) ahead of three Americans, Joel Brown (13.40), Omo Osaghae (13.58) and Daegu-bound Jason Richardson (13.65), to gain a substantial confidence boost.
On the downside…
The flurry of top quality British performances on Friday night unfortunately didn’t rub off on Andy Baddeley who suffered another below par outing and this time simply dragged home way behind in last in 3:46.56 to raise further questions over his form. Time is running out fast and the Beijing finalist doesn’t look like making any progress at all…
Turk Ilham Tanui Ozbilen, apparently of Kenyan origins, came away with a very notable narrowest win in a national record of 3:32.94 ahead of Kenyan Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, a mere hundredth behind, and Spaniard Diego Ruiz in 3:33.18, a PB.
Zersenay Tadesse (ERI) joined in the chorus of sub 13 mins timings led by Mo Farah in Monaco to edge inside in 12:59.32 in the 5000m, American Geena Gall snatched a shocking upset over new Cuban star Yuneisi Santiusti by a mere 0.02 secs in the women’s 800m (2:01.06 to 2:01.08) and Jamaican Steve Mullings powered to a runway victory in 20.17 secs into a -1.0m/sec headwind over the 200m in other highlights of the meeting.