Christine Ohuruogu and Perri Shakes-Drayton have comfortably qualified through their heats in winning ways in the women’s 400m to set up a mouth-watering clash in the final tomorrow, turning in the two fastest times in the process, but Jack Green was forced to withdraw from the men’s 400m hurdles battle through illness to see his hopes of gaining an individual berth for Daegu all but end.
In fact, Olympic champion Ohuruogu went off to a blinder of a start (reaction 0.121) that even top sprinters would be green with envy of to gain a swift hold of the fourth and final heat before easing to a 52.08 secs win, her second fastest this season, but one should also take note of Lee McConnell‘s close finish in 52.23 secs for a comprehensive second suggesting that she could pose a danger – her sixth B qualifier come to that!
In the previous heat, European 400m hurdles bronze medalist Shakes-Drayton had easily dominated in an even more striking manner in 52.19 secs to spare plenty of daylight on Nicola Sanders, who was content to secure the second automatic spot in 52.81 secs, while Shana Cox notched up the opening run in 52.51 secs ahead of Kelly Sotherton (52.94).
Shakes-Drayton, however, has got to ensure that she saves up well in the heats of her specialist event earlier at noon tomorrow and give herself a fair chance to complete a rare flat/hurdle double in the championships, which she is most capable of. In the A final four hours later, she goes in lane five just outside Ohuruogu and with Cox and Sanders in her sights on the outside.
The highly anticipated men’s 400m hurdles battle royal received a huge blow when new European U23 champion Jack Green announced his withdrawal through illness, tonsilitis, to leave the way totally open to his two major rivals, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams, to claim the two much coveted top two places in the final that effectively lead to Daegu.
According to the selection policy, the first two claim automatic qualification provided they hold the A standard, as both Woodward and Williams do, while the third place is certain to go to European champion Dai Greene who is trying his hand over the flat 400m. Therefore, Green’s hopes hang by a thread.
On the track, Woodward was an easy victor of the second heat in 50.56 secs and Williams grabbed the fourth in an identical 50.58 secs to set up a duel between them for the spoils in the final, nevertheless Rick Yates showed quite lively to post the fastest time through in a SB of 50.24 secs from the opening section and could fancy his chances to spoil the party. As a matter of fact, he comes from a PB of 21.6 secs over 200m and it’s going to be intriguing to see how that translates into his times.
All top names were through without any problems in the men’s dash but a slight surprise package was Ricky Fifton to post the second fastest time in a big SB of 10.32 secs (0.9m/sec) as he hadn’t shown much up to now this term. Hot favourite Dwain Chambers was head and shoulders over the second heat in 10.46 secs into a strong headwind (-2.3m/sec) while Mark Lewis-Francis got the fastest time of 10.30 secs (-0.2m/sec) out of the first round to show that he means serious business and Christian Malcolm looked smooth in winning the final heat in 10.38 secs (-0.1m/sec).
Laura Turner was the most impressive out of the preliminary round of the women’s 100 as she clinched the second heat in 11.50 secs (0.5m/sec) and Montell Douglas showed as though she could be a factor in taking the third in 11.55 secs (0.1m/sec). Jeanette Kwakey and Anyika Onuora won, as expected, the remaining two sections in 11.61 (0.1m/sec) and 11.46 (2.0m/sec) respectively.
There were no surprises in the women’s 800m first round where Jenny Meadows must have been pleased to see that none has gained any ground on her on the international stage as Semenya Caster sank deep in eighth and Cuban Yuniesi Santiusti looked like talling off in Stockholm at the same time. Marilyn Okoro, Emma Jackson, Lyndsay Sharp and sensational U17 Jessica Judd all advanced to join her in the semifinals tomorrow.
On the men’s side, however, European U23 bronze medalist Muchtar Mohammed suffered a fall to miss out in a very slow second heat that was won by a lively again Niall Brooks, fourth at the World U20 Championships last summer. Mike Rimmer moved through in the fastest time of 1:50.46 followed closely by a revamped Steve Fennell in 1:50.58 and Andie Osagie eased to a comfortable 1:51.53 top place in the final heat.
Hannah England, Lisa Dobriskey and Stacey Smith cruised through the heats of the women’s 1500m where steeplechaser Barbara Parker showed intent to test the specialists as she set the fastest time in winning the first semifinal in a SB of 4:17.61. The worrying news, however, is that missing Charlene Thomas could be doubtful even for Crystal Palace next weekend and that could give selectors a headache depending mainly on how Smith fares in the final.
The first UK title went over to Alex Smith who unleashed a PB of 73.26m in the hammer, farthest by a Briton in seven years, in the fifth round that takes him closer to the B qualifying standard of 74m – yet, he still needs a brace of them and has got only a week available to find them. Mike Floyd was second at 70.85m and Mark Dry third at 70.33m.
World U20 silver medalist Laura Samuel showed to recapture her form and fighting insticts even late as she found herself with her back to the wall when Yasmine Regis sneaked the lead with a 13.61m (1.2m/sec) in the last round to grind out an immediate response of a SB of 13.67m (0.8m/sec) and snatch gold back at the death. Pre-event slight favourite Nadia Williams never really got into it and had to do with third well behind at 13.37m (-0.3m/sec).