Greg Rutherford‘s hamstring injury that put paid to his medal hopes shadowed a morning that saw a timely recovery to form from British athletes across the board as the action resumed on the sixth day of the World Championships in Daegu.
After a banker of an 8.00m opener (1.4m/sec), the Berlin 5th placer felt his hamstring go on the take-off during an attempt in the men’s long jump qualification and was forced to withdraw, a bitter end to a season that had shaped up so promisingly on a sound series on the international circuit in the run-up. In fact, his first round effort helf firm tooth and nail for long within the top twelve from both groups before giving way in the dying stages for seventh in the B group and an overall fourteenth. But that wouldn’t matter anyway since he would have been unable to contest the final tomorrow.
As if to make matters worse, European bronze medalist Chris Tomlinson, troubled with a knee complaint, struggled to assert himself in the adjacent pit and a last-gasp 8.02m (-0.5m/sec) just scraped him the twelfth qualifying place on countback from American Marquise Goodwin in a close combat finalle that saw Olympic champion Irving Saladino among the fallen. With only a day to spare on the final, British hopes of a medal hang by a thread and a great deal on how his knee is going to respond.
As concerns the gold medal, defending champion Dwight Phillips (USA) evoked great memories of the past as he sailed to a sound 8.32m (-0.2m/sec) first time out to seal his place and topple Aussie Mitchell Watt, second best overall at 8.15m (0.2m/sec), as favourite to claim a fourth global crown.
Despite reportedly running with blisters in his feet, Mo Farah cruised round the track to earn an easy runner-up place in 13:38.03 in a second heat of the men’s 5000m that was taken narrowly ahead by Imane Merga’s ‘killing elbows’ in 13:37.96, with former European champion Jesus Espana just scraping through as the last fastest loser in 13:40.38 for seventh. Farah said after the race that his feet felt alright so he will be gearing towards an anticipated epic battle against great Bernard Lagat (USA), who romped to a comfortable win in a slightly faster 13:33.90 in the first virtual semifinal. Craig Mottram (AUS) and Rui Silva (POR) were the most notable casualties on the way.
All three British girls qualified for the semifinals by means of excellent performances to stress the strength in depth of the women’s 800m on the domestic front. Jenny Meadows stamped her authority on a quality opening heat to sprint away to a comfortable victory in 2:01.11, covering the second 400m under 60 secs with aplomb, from American Maggie Vessey (2:01.32) as Russian Juliya Rusanova just made it as a fastest loser in 2:01.58 in fifth and European silver medalist Yvonne Hak (HOL) trailed well behind last in 2:03.05 to go out early. On the evidence of this showing, the Brit has firmly confirmed herself as a genuine contender for gold.
Marilyn Okoro was involved in a fast-paced third heat to come fourth in a sound 1:59.74 and move to the semifinals although she could have checked her ‘rear view mirror’ and saved a lot more as the nearest next marker was coming over three seconds behind, with former world champion Janeth Kepkosgei Busienei (KEN) first in 1:59.36, while young Emma Jackson punched above her weight and fought her way through as fastest loser in 2:01.17 narrowly behind a glamorous screen of bodies including reigning champion Caster Semenya and European champion Mariya Savinova (RUS).
Goldie Sayers started off a little slow with a modest 56.61m but quickly slipped into her rhythm to land a solid 62.19m in her following effort and secure her berth in the women’s javelin final. Christina Obergfoll (GER) showed in great form as she bids for her first ever major title through a straight 68.76m from the off whereas a rather clumsy 63.40m proved enough for Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova (CZE). South African Sunette Viljoen, the World Student Games winner, signalled her very good current form and threat with a 65.34m release to move through second best from both groups.
Anuika Onuora became the first Briton to draw a PB in these championships, a rather embarrassing statistic, as she powered round 200m to a new mark of 22.93 secs (-0.2m/sec) to edge through the last and hardest women’s heat, missing out on an automatic spot by a mere hundredth of a second. That was her first ever trip inside 23 secs and an A Olympic qualifying standard on top of that to answer her critics accordingly. Double Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown was easily on top in 22.46 secs while Carmelita Jeter appeared to struggle to contain her speed as she shot down the home straight to a swift 22.68 secs (-0.5m/sec) off a conservative bend, suggesting that she could be on her way to a commanding sprint double.
Women’s 200m third heat with Allyson Felix and Daphne Schippers
Defending triple champion Allyson Felix did as much as required to ease through second in 22.71 secs (-0.3m/sec) from the outside lane in the fourth heat as sensational Dutch multi-eventer Daphne Schippers sneaked ahead for some glory in a massive national U20 record of 22.69 secs from the central lanes to demonstrate again her vast talent.
Britain men’s 4x400m team struggled to apply in a tough draw first semifinal as they languished behind for much of the action before Martyn Rooney anchored past Germany in a SB of 3:00.68 to claim a fastest loser spot for the final. Richard Strachan tailed off late on the lead-off and Nigel Levine could not improve the team’s position deep in the field round the second leg so Britain may need to reshuffle their personnel so that they gain more pace in the early stages as they will need to get out straight into the top two-three and avoid the scramble for places in the middle of the race as much as possible. A suggestion could be to draw Chris Clarke back on the lead-off in place of Strachan, draft in Jack Green who is a great chaser on the second, employ 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene on the third and retain Rooney at the end.
The US team coasted to an easy win in 2:58.82 anchored by Lashawn Merritt although this side is very much a shadow of so many mighty quarters to have graced the track in the past.
All top names were through the easier or the harder way in the men’s shot where German David Storl produced a new European U23 record of 21.50m to lead qualifiers to the final.