Dai Greene turned equal to his early season promise to add the global title to his credentials and Hannah England stormed past a cluster of bodies down the home straight for an astounding silver in the women’s 1500m to light up and draw back on track the British campaign for silverware in Daegu.
The men’s 400m hurdles final wasn’t quite as pretty and flowing as the women’s affair that unfolded on the track minutes earlier but came more down to a matter of strength where the British steel of Greene triumphed amidst waves of sorts of bursts all around, Olympic champion Angelo Taylor scorching over the first 250m from the inside . The Welshman refused to get carried away into anything, remained composed and stuck to his racing plan all the way, even when still outside the top four coming off the top bend, to be rewarded handsomely as he dug deep into a last reserve of strength to edge past Xavier Culson (PUR) off the final hurdle and claim the spoils. Times may have arguaby not been that impressive, the winning time a 48.26 secs, but the 25-year-old showed the mettle of a great champion to take the race to his strengths and deliver under immense pressure, coming just a mere major title short of the Grand Slam in the process. A title that beckons at the Olympic stadium at Stratford next summer where Greene will be waiting everyone as a world champion.
Nevertheless, what carries greater weight in the short run is that he eventually ended Britain’s long wait into the championships to collect their first gold medal that will be instrumental to raise the team’s outlook on a more positive and challenging level. No matter how many medals and top eight places you get, and there haven’t been that many on that latter end as intended so far, it’s gold medals that carry great weight with the confidence and feel good factor within a team.
One has got to feel for Culson, though, who came so desperately close to winning himself only to be denied a second time on the trot and by a narrower margin this once in 48.44 secs. But full credit to him for raising his game when it came to the crunch once more. LJ van Zyl (RSA) was none near his early season rampaging form to edge bronze in 48.80 secs ahead of former Olympic champion Felix Sanchez (DOM), back into the thick of affairs after years, whereas the Americans surprisingly sank deep in the field in a rarest occurence on the big stage as Bershawn Jackson and Angelo Taylor finished well adrift in the last two but one places.
If Greene came to meet the growing demand for a gold medal, a buoyant Hannah England came to fill the gap of a breakthrough athlete as she built on her promise through the rounds to snatch a thrilling silver, sparing the blushes of early departing Lisa Dobriskey in full measure. There has been an amazing transformation in very much all departments for the 24-year-old Bud Baldaro-coached miler ever since her breakthrough run of 4:01.89 in Barcelona and she knitted it all together into a sensational performance on the track of Daegu.
Albeit the final started in the latest slowish fashion, this time the pace picked up nicely round the second lap to set up a relatively fast affair contrary to the scrappy races in the run-up, but even after the bell most of the field were still tucked in closely and the Briton looked well boxed on the inside. Coming off the top bend for the last time, the situation hadn’t changed and England was still lying behind a thick wall of bodies and on the inside but swerved onto the outside to turn on her trademark kick and the magic unfolded. She totally took off some 80m out and her menacing surging pace saw her fly past the pack as if they were moving in a slower motion, and could have even snatched it in the end but for former steeplechaser Jenny Simpson (nee Barringer) who throught of the same move marginally earlier to get first to the line, setting 4:05.40 to 4:05.68 respectively.
But there could hardly be any complaint whatever as she set an erratic past championships record right and fully retained Britain’s foothold in the thick of affairs in the event by matching the silver medal won by Dobriskey two years ago. Furthermore, there shapes up a very strong squad in the event with Charlene Thomas and Steph Twell hopefully healthy and back on top of their game next summer in view of London and the likes of Stacey Smith rising through the rans.
Spain’s Natalia Rodriguez remained on a bronze trail to add to her medal from the Europeans in Barcelona in 4:05.87 but Morgan Uceny suffered a heavy fall coming to the bell to trail way behind in tenth and defending champion Mariam Yusuf Jamal remained anonymous to drag home last.
Yamile Aldama had set the British team in a flowing groove from early on with an excellent fifth place on her first mission in the British colours by means of a fourth big SB in as many outings at 14.50m, the farthest distance by a Brit since Ashia Hansen‘s 15.01m indoors in 2003. On top of that, that was an Olympic A qualifier in the bag for London next summer to fully justify her late selection for Daegu. Ukraine’s Olha Saladuha claimed gold with an early 14.94m (0.2m/sec) slightly ahead of Olga Rypakova (KAZ) who set 14.89m (0.2m/sec) for silver and season revelation Caterine Ibarguen (COL) got bronze with 14.84m (0.4m/sec). Defending champion Yargelis Savigne (CUB) paid the price of being the cover theme of the day as the curse returned to haunt the programme features, picking up a hamstring injury to withdraw early in the final. Who said the curse was lifted?
Anuika Onuora tried as she would but could not make her way past a very strong field, led by US champion Shalonda Solomon and top Jamaican Kerron Stewart in 22.46 and 22.77 secs, to come seventh from lane two in 23.08 secs (-0.1m/sec) in the last semifinal, her third fastest ever over the distance. Backed up with a PB and Olympic A standard in the morning, that makes a very good campaign on her part.
Lashinda Demus storms to a superb 52.47 secs to claim the women’s 400m hurdles title in enthralling manner