Category: World Student Games

Britain endured a long wait that ran deep into the final day before they could finally open their medal account at the World Student Games as Andy Vernon turned in a decisive victory in the men’s 5000m to guide a late medal mini-rush.

Without a doubt, standards were considerably higher than any other recent version of the championships to make medals much harder to come by but a succession of fourth places, such as James Alaka in the 200m or Stevie Stockton in the women’s 5000m, and a further blow in the form of Gianni Frankis‘s disqualification in the semifinals of the 110m hurdles on the penultimate day weighed on the efforts of British athletes as the curtain was drawing on.

And it possibly wasn’t of any lift that the 4x100m relay girls led the team out into the arena on the last day to come a mere place shy of the medals again in 44.01 secs not far off the main action having shifted to a formation with long-jumper Amy Harris on the lead-off and Ashleigh Nelson on the anchor. The new European power of the women’s sprints Ukraine edged victory in 43.33 secs from USA in 43.48 and Jamaica in 43.57 secs.

The men’s short relay hadn’t made the last eight the previous day with an odd involvement of Richard Davenport against Frankis in the line-up, where Joe Thomas also fell well short of qualifying spots in the 800m semifinals, so next one out was talented Stacey Smith who apparently opted for Shenzhen rather than Daegu but her judgement wasn’t vindicated, nor her current poor championships record improved, to end up well off the pace in eighth in 4:10.34.The Mick Woods-trainee needs to knuckle down to some serious work on her speed as well as her tactics once the season is out.

The Turks won one more gold through Asi Altpekin in a relatively fast 4:05.56 to extend their domination over the women’s distances in China where more fancied Anna Mishchenko (UKR) came second in 4:05.91 and Ekaterina Gorbunova (RUS) was third in 4:06.16.

Yet, right when all started looking gloomy salvation came from a rather unexpected source as a makeshift quartet of Kelly Massey, Charlotte Best, Meghan Beesley and Emily Diamond struck a surprise bronze in the women’s long relay in 3:33.09 to provide the necessary tonic and turning-point in the fortunes of the squad, a consolation for Beesley in particular who suffered a poor 400m hurdles final due to a cold.

On that cue, Vernon took up the initiative as virtual last-standing gold medal hope and did not disappoint as he came away a convincing winner in 14:00.06 from Russian Yevgeniy Rybakov (14:00.60) in a slow tactical 5000m to give Brits more cause to cheer about, applying some gloss to the overall performance in the process. But besides that, a sound confidence boost and platform to step up his game into Olympic qualification and maybe even more.

And that wasn’t the last of it. About the same time on the infield, Julian Reid was landing at a last-gasp 7.96m (0.2m/sec) to steal bronze out of the hands of Nigerian Stanley Gbagbeke on countback to take the counting up to three, his first medal in his new colours and didn’t take long! Last impressions last longer as they say and that late spate can go a long way to sustaining the good image of British teams performances in international championships.



Gianni Frankis has got off to a strong start in the men’s sprint hurdles to wrap up a good fourth morning for the British athletes in Shenzhen.

The UK runner-up clocked the fastest time among all qualifiers out of the first round to claim the opening heat in 13.66 secs in almost still conditions (0.2m/sec) and will be hoping to build on that in the quarterfinals later on.

Welshman Joe Thomas also got off on a winning trail as he comfortably headed the sixth qualifying heat of the men’s 800m home in 1:50.18, hitting the front in the third 200m after a slow first lap of 56.12 secs while Stacey Smith stayed out of trouble herself to get fifth in 4:32.16 in a very slow tactical second virtual semifinal of the women’s 1500m that offered no fastest losers through. Ukraine’s Anna Mishchenko, who impressed in the early stages of the Diamond League this season, was top of that one in 4:31.78.

The first title of the day went to Spaniard Julia Takacs Nyerges who came out an clear winner of the women’s 20km race walking in 1h33:51 to prevail over the mighty Russian girls, led by Tatiana Shemyakina in 1:34.23 for silver while Nina Okhotnikova got bronze in 1h35:10. Judging by the times of the latter couple, who hold very fast times of 1h28:55 and 1h28:41 respectively lying in the top ten in the world, conditions must have been atrocious for the walkers.


Sunette Viljoen launched a new African record in the javelin and Nelson Evora sparked into life again after a long while to add further touches of sparkle to a Universiade that has arguably displayed a higher level of standards compared to previous occasions, but the British team remain without a medal after three days of action.

The 27-year-old South African hit a classy 66.47m as early as her second attempt to place the javelin final beyond reach and stress her medal credentials for Daegu as she moved fourth in the global lists this season, placing over six and a half metres on runner-up Matina Maximova (RUS) who got 59.87m. Her new mark doubled as a national record and PB on top of that, improving slightly on her previous best of 66.37m from last summer. The consistency wasn’t there, though, as her next best throw was a fifth-round 60.36m but a one-off can still do the damage and this is a rival Goldie Sayers has got to watch out.

Olympic champion Evora (POR) had to wait long to find his way over 17m, since 2009 actually, but the fifth round saw him land at a huge SB of 17.31m in totally breathless conditions to mark a return to form although that will hardly make an impression on the likes of Phillips Idowu on the global stage at the moment. But it will serve as a reminder that he is still there and he could stage a return to world class territory with a good winter behind him. Ukraine’s Victor Kuznietsov was second with 16.89m (0.7m/sec).

Julian Reid enjoyed a solid and consistent competition to end up fifth courtesy of a last-round 16.61m (0.2m/sec).

Meghan Beesley, apparently affected by a cold, endured a nightmare display that reduced her to last in a disappointing 59.21 secs as Ukraine’s Anna Yaroshchuk pulled away to a convincing victory in 55.15 secs in the women’s 400m hurdles, with Russian Irina Davidova earning silver in 55.50 secs. Despite the result, the 21-year-old Nick Daikin charge can take pride in her season having won a European U23 bronze and lowered her PB to 55.69 secs, narrowly failing to gain a place for Daegu.

There weren’t much better fortunes for David Bishop and Kris Gauson who came seventh and eighth in 3:49.61 and 3:49.84 in a very slow early pace-late burn up 1500m final that saw the Algerian Touil twins, Imad and Abdelmadjed, occupy the top two places in a close finish in 3:48.13 and 3:48.24 respectively.

UK Trials runner-up Richard Davenport put in maybe the best British performance of the day as he won the third semifinal of the men’s 400m hurdles in 49.89 secs, his second fastest ever, and could set his sights on a medal in what looks to be like a very open final behind red hot favourite Jeshua Anderson (USA), who came second in 49.72 secs in the intermediate semifinal. Niall Flannery didn’t make it through, though, as he trailed well behind in last in 53.86 secs in that run.

Ashley Bryant completed his decathlon with a late series of a below par 4.30m in the pole vault (702pts), a 64.08m in the javelin (799pts) and a PB of 4:39.51 (683pts) to amass a new PB of 7789pts, improving his previous best from early July by 42pts.

Stevie Stockton built on an excellent season of hers to easily reach the final of the women’s 5000m as she came fifth in 16:06.57 in the first qualifying heat, with five automatic spots on offer, while both Emily Diamond and Margaret Adeoye moved convincingly through to the semifinals of the women’s 200m. Emily was third in 23.78 (-0.1m/sec) in the second heat and Margaret filled the same place in the opening section in 23.94 secs (0.0m/sec). Marginally fastest of the second round was Anneisha McLaughlin (JAM) in 23.52 secs from Yelyzaveta Brygzina (UKR, 23.53).

James Alaka also qualified comfortably in third in 21.13 secs (0.2m/sec) from the fourth and final quarterfinal heat with Canada’s Oluwasegun Makinde top of the round in a PB of 20.72 secs despite a headwind of -1.0m/sec.

U20 Marcel Nagy (HUN) won the men’s 400m in a fast 45.50 secs to add to his recent European U20 title from Jamaica’s Peter Matthews, 45.62 (PB), and Aussie Sean Wroe in 45.93 secs (SB) where pre-tournament favourite Joey Hughes (USA) languished back in sixth in 45.99 secs, while Russians Olga Topilskaya and Elena Migunova dominated the women’s version in 51.53 and 51.77 secs respectively.

Bogdan Bondarenko (UKR) edged the men’s high jump over 2.28m as 2.33m man Erik Kynard (USA) crashed out at only 2.15m and a fast women’s 800m final was conquered by Olha Zadhovodnya in a PB of 1:59.56 to round off a strong day for Ukraine, with Russia’s Elena Kofanova second in 1:59.94.


Ashley Bryant keeps on a smooth track through the decathlon and all Brits have made it safely through the 200m first round heats in the morning of the third day.

20-year-old Bryant has taken up where he left off last night to get the second day off to a 14.71 secs flight over the hurdles (-0.5m/sec) (885pts), some way off his PB but still faster than the 14.75 secs en route to his decathlon PB early last month, to remain firmly on trail to a new lifetime mark and even picked up through a SB of 40.46m in the discus (674pts) later on. After seven disciplines, his total amounts to 5605pts.

In the women’s 200m first round, Margaret Adeoye began her first international competitive trip on a winning trail as she nicked the third heat in 24.20 secs from Russian Nina Argunova (24.21) into a -1.0m/sec headwind where Emily Diamond followed in her footsteps to comfortably notch the seventh and penultimate run in 23.90 secs (1.5m/sec). Sonia Tabares (POR) came out fastest qualifier in 23.75 secs (-0.9m/sec) from the last heat.

James Alaka romped to a comfortable top place in the men’s fourth heat in 21.32 secs (-o.1m/sec) in a rather casual first round of the men’s 200m while Ashley Helsby and Gemma Bennett were fourth and third in their 100m hurdles heats in 13.74 (0.7m/sec) and 13.50 (-0.1m/sec) respectively to go through to the next round. American favourite Christina Manning was top of the first round in 13.23 secs (-0.3m/sec) and along with Turk Nevin Yanit should be the main contenders for the title.

In the sole final of the morning, Russian Andrei Krinov edged out compatriot Michail Ruzhov to win the men’s 20km race walking in 1h24:21 to the latter’s 1h24:26.


Carrie Russell has delivered a scintillating double act of sprinting to run away with the women’s sprint title but Brits failed to get their hands on any silverware at the end of the second day in Shenzhen.

The Jamaican was quick to lay down her marker as early as the semifinals as she tore to a PB of 11.05 secs (0.5m/sec) before coming back later to emulate that showing into a considerable headwind of -0.7m/sec on top and leave the field reeling in her wake, runner-up Khrystina Stuy (UKR) coming home a long way behind in 11.34 secs in a totally different race for the minor medals. That display bore strong signs of sub 11 secs form on the part of the 19-year-old who may have just announced her arrival as a potential top contender on the global stage. Amazingly enough, she hasn’t been considered even for a place of the short relay of her country in Daegu.

Try as she could, Ashleigh Nelson could not make it past the semifinal phase as she finished a close fifth in 11.66 secs (-0.5m/sec) in the second semifinal, missing out on a final slot by 0.05 secs.

The men’s affair turned out entirely different as a contest as slight pre-race favourite Jacques Harvey and surprisingly strong Rylis Sakalauskas (LTU) crossed the line tied in 10.14 secs (-0.2m/sec), a national record for the latter, with the Jamaican getting the photo-finish verdict for gold. James Alaka could not make his 10.23 secs credentials count to finish fifth in 10.29 tied with fourth-placed Arajs Ronalds (LAT) where Rion Pierre ran 10.37 secs in totally still conditions for fifth in the semifinals to miss out by a place.

Amy Harris earned a useful sixth place with a first-round 6.41m (0.5m/sec) in the final of the women’s long jump where Russian Anna Nazarova was always in control to prevail comfortably through an also first-attempt 6.72m (0.6m/sec), backed up by a 6.70m (-0.2m/sec) in the second. Hopefully, that display will shape a solid springboard for the former European U20 Brit to draw her career back on track a year before the Olympics in London.

In the decathlon, U23 Ashley Bryant remains consistently on a PB course as he levelled his PB of 1.89m in the high jump (705pts) and ran slightly outside his PB in 48.59 secs over 400m (881pts) at the end of the first day to have totalled 4046pts overnight. I can’t find any overall standings at the moment.

The women’s 800m first semifinal saw Charlotte Best fall well off the pace to finish seventh in 2:06.53 and go out to conclude over the Brits.

In other finals on the second day, Zaneta Glanc (POL) snatched a late win the women’s discus with a last-effort PBof 63.99m over Lithania’s Zinaida Zendriute who was leading most of the way on a third-round PB of 62.49m while Pawel Fajdek was head and shoulders way over anyone else in the men’s hammer to romp to victory with 78.14m by over 4m, in fact any of his valid attempts would have easily won him the title.

Suguru Ozako (JAP) sprang up a totally unexpected winner in 28:42.83 (SB) considering the run of the 10000m final but Joey Hughes (USA) struggled to scrape through to the men’s 400m only as a fastest loser in 46.06 secs, blowing the contest for gold wide open.


There has been a good second morning for the British contingent in Shenzhen as all five Brits progressed to the next phase although Lennie Waite squeezed through to the women’s 3000m steeplechase as a fastest loser.

The 25-year-old US-based ‘chaser came fifth in 9:56.87 in the second and faster semifinal won by Turkey’s Binnaz Uslu in 9:47.29, with four automatic places on offer, which was enough since the respective placer in the previous heat had gone over 10 minutes.

Ashley Bryant is enjoying a very promising early campaign in the decathlon as he has arrayed a 11.08 secs over 100m (0.1m/sec), fastest of all for 843pts, a PB of 7.48m (0.3m/sec)  in the long jump for 930pts and a SB of 13.32m in the shot for 687pts, totaling 2640pts on three disciplines and on course for a PB.

Welsh record holder Sally Peake initially struggled as she needed all three attempts to eventually go over 4.05m but bounced back to clear 4.15 at the first time of asking and ensure of  her place in the women’s pole vault final, where Slovenia’s new name Tina Sutej (4.61m) will be the favourite.

UK Trials runner-up Richard Davenport comfortably won the fourth preliminary heat in 51.08 secs and U23 Niall Flannery was third in the second run in 51.25 behind Portugal’s Joao Ferreira, who set 50.88 secs, to make the next stage of the men’s 400m hurdles, hot favourite Jeshua Anderson (USA) fastest through in 49.78 secs from the opening heat.

Leslie Arthur Copeland set a national record of a respectable 80.45m for Fiji to go top of qualifiers for the men’s javelin final, a rarest sight and in a throwing event at that.


Evening Session

Forgotten girl Amy Harris along with milers Kris Gauson and David Bishop have made three more finalists in the long jump and the 1500m respectively as the British contingent in Shenzhen followed up nicely on a solid opening in the morning.

Harris sealed an automatic place with a second-round 6.29m (0.3m/sec), fouling on the first attempt, as equal sixth out of qualification overall and could fancy her chances of sneaking a medal seeing that top marker Michelle Weitzel (GER) wasn’t that far away at 6.41m (0.5m/sec).

It was a nice sight to see both Gauson and Bishop notch their places in the metric mile both by right as the Scot just held off Pole Szymov Krawzyk by a slender 0.04 secs in 3:53.68 in a very tactical slow first semifinal, where the latter advanced more comfortably as runner-up from the following race in 3:49.41 behind another Pole, Artur Ostrowski who set 3:49.26. with three automatic places and three fastest losers out of the three heats.

Ashleigh Nelson moved up a notch to progress through second in the fourth and final heat of the women’s 100m quarterfinals  in 11.58 secs (-0.1m/sec) way off Jamaican Carrie Russell, the fastest through this phase in 11.32, while James Alaka turned a comfortable runner-up in 10.36 secs (-0.1m/sec) in the opening run of the men’s respective round behind Nigeria’s Ogho-Oghene Omano Egwero in 10.28 and Rion Pierre was also second in the following heat in an identical 10.41 (0.1m/sec) with his morning opener as Rylis Sakalauskas (LTU) was first in 10.32 secs. All will be returning on the track tomorrow for the semifinals with Jacques Harvey (JAM) posting the fastest time on the men’s side in 10.25 secs (0.4m/sec).

Charlotte Best led the way into the evening session with a convincing second place in 2:05.18 behind Ukraine’s Olha Zavhorodnya (2:03.34) to ensure of a semifinal slot in the women’s 800m.

Jamaican O’Dayne Richards picked up the first gold in athletics with a third-effort PB of 19.93m to hold off Russian Soslan Tsyrikhov (19.80) and American Mason Finley (19.72) in the men’s shot while Turk Fadime Suna came away with a comfortable win in the women’s 10000m in 33:11.92 from the Japanese duo of Hanae Tanaka (33:15.57) and Mai Ishibashi (33:41.90).


Morning Session

Meghan Beesley and new-kid-on-the-bloc Julian Reid have made the finals in the women’s 400m hurdles and the triple jump respectively as all British athletes competing in the morning session advanced through.

Beesley was runner-up in a second virtual semifinal in 56.95 secs behind Russian Anastasia Ott in 56.76 secs to go through into the final as seventh fastest, with Turkey’s Nagihan Karadere heading qualifiers in 56.48 secs from the third and final heat.

Starting off his double mission in China, Jamaican-turned-Brit Reid did not meet the qualifying standard but his second-round 16.28m (1.4m/sec) turned out enough to make third in the B qualification pool and the final, actually he didn’t even take his final effort. Olympic champion Nelson Evora (POR), still very much a shadow of the force he used to be, was top of the two groups with a first-round 16.58m (-1.2m/sec).

James Alaka finished second in the eighth heat of the 100m tied with winner Joseph Obinna Metu (NGR) in 10.48 secs into a slight headwind (-0.6m/sec) while Rion Pierre was third in the fourth run in 10.41 secs (0.5m/sec) behind South African Petrus Simon Magakwe in 10.30 secs, the fastest out of the preliminary round.

Finally, Ashleigh Nelson comfortably won the eighth and final preliminary heat in the women’s dash in 11.78 secs (0.7m/sec) as Jamaican Carrie Russell led qualifiers from the third section in 11.41 secs (0.2m/sec).

Elsewhere, top-ranked Joey Hughes (USA) moved easily through the first round of the 400m in 46.37 secs to tuck away the second section and Jamaican O’Dayne Richards topped the men’s shot put qualification at 19.09m.


Athletics are about to get underway in Shenzhen, China, within the frame of the World Student Games and US 400m hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson features prominently among competitors following the withdrawal of World 800m champion Semenya Caster (RSA) through injury. Interestingly enough, the American is using the competition as a late tune-up before swinging over to Daegu to contest the World Championships in quick succession.

Olympic triple jump champion Nelson Evora (POR) is another notable character to look out for but has been strugging for form and lying nowhere near the heights of two-three years ago.

Britain field a 24-strong team that involves some promising athletes like Meghan Beesley, James Alaka, Stevie Stocton, Stacey Smith, Andy Vernon and a resurrected Richard Davenport looking for a healthy number of medals and a good amount of individual performances across the board. The full team are as follows:

100m James Alaka, Rion Pierre
200m James Alaka
800m  Joe Thomas
1500m Kris Gauson, David Bishop
5000m Andy Vernon
110mh Gianni Frankis
400mh Richard Davenport, Niall Flannery
LJ & TJ Julian Reid
Decathlon Ashley Bryant

100m Ashleigh Nelson, Margaret Adeoye
200m Margaret Adeoye
200m Emily Diamond
400m Kelly Massey
800m Charlotte Best
1500m Stacey Smith
100mh Gemma Bennett, Ashley Helsby
400mh Meghan Beesley
5000m Stevie Stockton
3000mSC Lennie Waite
LJ Amy Harris
PV Sally Peake

The morning session of the first day gets off to the women 400m meaning that Kelly Massey will be the first Briton to enter the fray, going in lane five in the fourth preliminary heat, while Rion Pierre and European U23 champion Alaka follow on in the first round heats of the men’s 100m. Pierre is out in lane eight in the third where Alaka gets a central lane in four in the eighth and penultimate run.

Ashleigh Nelson goes in lane five in the eighth and last preliminary heat of the women’s short dash and Beesley occupies the same lane in the second out of three sections of the women’s 400m hurdles first round at noon.

Day I schedule:

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The Great Britain athletics team to compete at the World Student Games in Shenzhen, China, from 12 to 24 August, just before the World Championships in Daegu (Korea), have been announced yesterday and comprise the following athletes.

Sally Peake, Charles Lawrence Somerset, Jack Green, Kristopher Gerrard, Meghan Beesley, David Bishop, Nathan Woodward, Andrew Osagie, Stacey Smith, Andrew Vernon, Daniel Talbot, Luke Lennon-Ford, Montell Douglas, Margaret Adetutu Adeoye, Gianni Frankis, Rion Joseph Pierre, Laura Whittingham, James Alaka, Joe Thomas, Eilish McColgan, Ashleigh Nelson, Lynsey Sharp, Ashley Bryant, Gemma Bennett, Julian Reid.

Non Travelling Reserves
Niall Flannery, Stephen Mitchell, Thomas Phillips, Nigel Thomas, Asha Philip