Veteran new British asset Yamile Aldama provides a silver lining at the end of what has been a dismal morning for the British team. She shows glimpses of her old form to sail beautifully out to a first-round 14.35m (0.7m/sec), a SB and a UK leading mark this summer, despite missing an awful lot on the board. That’s lovely stuff by the 39-year-old who books her slot in the final in style (14.35, 14.20, x) and looks capable of at least a top six placing as things look after qualification. Incidentally, that was the farthest jump by a Brit since Ashia Hansen‘s 14.47m indoors in February 2004 as well as improving Aldama’s already runner-up position in the UK all-time rankings.
Disastrous blow in the javelin, the penultimate discipline, and effectively a knock-out out of the blue for Jessica Ennis and her gold medal chances in the heptathlon as she astonishingly can’t beat what would be a routine 40m in all three efforts of hers, a modest 39.95m her best of the day – shades of Kelly Sotherton‘s sufferings in the recent past spring to mind! Her worst outing this season was 42.93m and the last time she ranged below 40m in a competition can be traced down to 2007! Compared to a superb SB of 52.95m by Tatiana Chernova in the previous group that very much means game over as she is going to need to find some nine seconds up on the Russian in the 800m and there is very little to spare between the two therein.
Louise Hazell fares much better with 41.75m but has slighly slipped off pace for an overall PB although she could still pull it round with a PB in the closing event. Nonetheless, it has been a very good championships for her.
It has to be mentioned that Tony Minichiello, Ennis’s coach, wasn’t happy from the beginning with the javelin taking place in the morning rather than more typical afternoon session.
Standings after 6 disciplines
More disappointment for the British team this morning as both Tom Parsons and Martyn Bernard fail to make the final end of the men’s high jump as nine athletes clear the tough qualifying standard of 2.31m, with three making up the remaining places on countback on 2.28m, to set up a appetite-whetting tussle for the medals.
Parsons could not go higher than a second-time 2.25m, also needing as many to put away 2.21m, in the A group while European bronze medalist Bernard struggles with third-time clearances over both 2.16 and 2.21m before he crashes out at 2.25m – I don’t know whether there was any late injury or other setback involved.
Jesse Williams (USA) soars well over 2.31m at the second attempt to confirm his favourite status while Dimitris Hondrokoukis (GRE) hands in a perfect sheet of first-time passes to suggest a serious medal contender, sailing over the same height with aplomb. On the other hand, Ivan Uknov doesn’t look as assured as during the indoor season and Aleksey Dmitrik (RUS) can make it as an also-jumped at 2.28m.
James Shane doesn’t look so flowing and sharp as his last race when he destroyed the field at the UK Trials, probably affected by a slight achilles injury early this month, to trail well behind in tenth in 3:41.17 in the opening preliminary heat of the men’s 1500m but eventually misses out on a place in the next phase by a mere 0.03 secs. Tough luck… Still a valuable learning curve that will stand him in good stead next season. Jeff Riseley (AUS) and Andrew Wheating (USA) are notable casualties while former double European champion Mendi Baala is rather surprisingly reinstated to go through as he was responsible for his own fall down the home straight.
Helen Clitheroe is struggling but keeps going to finish well behind in 15:37.73 in eighth place in the first heat of the women’s 5000m, holding little hope that she can make it through. However, the following run turns out even slower, an increasing familiar feature in middle/long distance running these championships, as none really decides to take it on and the European 3000m champion eventually scrapes through as the very last fastest loser. Phewwwwwwww!
The good news has come from the heptathlon’s long jump as Jessica Ennis has fended off successfully the anticipated attack of Tatiana Chernova to take firm control of matters and heading safely to a second global title on the trot. Both opened with safe attempts stepping well off the take-off board at 6.38 and 6.27m respectively but the Russian ramped up her bid with a 6.61m (-0.7m/sec) in the second to threaten briefly with a sizeable cut off the deficit before the Briton immediately responded with an equal PB of 6.51m (0.0) to take matters back in her hands. Nothing changed in the final round with Ennis still holding a healthy lead of 118pts on the Russian, 5088 to 4970pts, going into the javelin.
Louise Hazell has managed a best of 6.25m (0.3m/sec) on the day so remains on course to a PB of hers.
Helen Clitheroe has advanced to the final of the women’s 5000m even the hard way as she faced an anxious wait to make it as literally the last fastest loser in 15:37.73, eighth in the first heat.
DAY IV morning session lead-up
Jessica Ennis begins the second and final day of the heptathlon holding a healthy lead of 151pts on pursuing Tatiana Chernova, 4078 to 3927pts respectively, and her first goal and care should be to protect that advantage under the anticipated counterattack by the Russian in what could turn the decisive battleground in the pit of the long jump. There will be blood and thunder in the full sense of the phrase, where no quarters will be given nor taken, and Ennis’s warrior insticts and prowess should rise to the occasion.
Chernova holds a substantially better PB of 6.82m (1.8m/sec) set at Gotzis but is generally an erratic performer in the discipline and could often be seen ranging in the 6.50s. On the other hand, this may not be among Ennis’s most prolific events but she is on a steady upward curve, a recent SB of 6.44 (-0.1m/sec), and combined with her sprint sharpness suggest that a breakthrough could be afoot and there could be no better time to draw it. In fact, if she can put in an early jump in the 6.50s first herself she could place her Russian rival under enormous pressure to produce a big jump to cover some ground, which in turn could lead to fouls. So, hopefully, she is going to take the script in her hands and direct the plot to her advantage.
Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell is lying in 16th place on 3634pts overnight after a fabulous first day and if she can maintain the trend and land in the 6.40s she is going to be well on the way to a score over 6200pts at the end of the day.
European bronze medalist Martyn Bernard and Tom Parsons will be contesting a tough qualification round in the men’s high jump where the qualifying standard is set at a daunting 2.31m, although arguably it should go down to the top 12. It’s just too tough a call to ask for twelve or more people to clear that height in the morning and not the final. Both have been there and done it time and again so hopefully they are going to force their way through.
The women’s 5000m heats see European indoor champion Helen Clitheroe enter the frame in the first out of the two virtual semifinals, with five going through by right and five fastest losers on offer. She is facing arguably the tougher of the line-ups that includes four runners well under 15mins, two Ethiopians involving Meseret Defar and two Kenyans, so her main and more realistic aim will be to get the better of fellow veteran Yelena Zadorozhnaya who is narrowly faster on paper. Of course, a fast pace could ensure her passage to the final anyway.
Young James Shane is thrown in at the deep end in his blooding in a major championships as he is facing a tough opening first round heat in the 1500m that features eight men with faster SBs than his and he will probably have to make one of the six automatic spots to make it through. Nevertheless, this is going to be mainly a tactical affair and the European U23 silver medalist has shown a shrewd tactician who knows to make the right moves at the right times, he is quite fast and versatile a runner while his PB of 3:36.22 secs doesn’t quite reflect the quality of his form. If he hasn’t been much affected by an achilles complaint early in the month, he is going to be a handful. Nick Willis (NZL) and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen (KEN) are the top names in this field.
Both Ennis and Hazell will be competing in the B group of the heptathlon’s javelin and by that time the former will have known what is required of her to remain on top as Chernova will have finished her own efforts. If she can match her best form around 46m, or even better improve by a metre or two, then she should be alright before the final act of the 800m later on.
Finally, Yamile Aldama goes in the second pool of the women’s triple jump with either a jump over 14.45m, the qualifying standard, or a top 12 position among both groups in her sights.