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European Championships Day One

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It was an evening of trips and tumbles but there was enough to give encouragement for what lies ahead for the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the European Championships in Gothenburg, on the conclusion of day one on Monday 7 August.

None more so than in the heptathlon, which came to a superb conclusion for Britain in the last event of the 200 metres. At the home turn, Sweden's Olympic champion Carolina Kluft was charging away and looked like she would take command but on the outside two lanes, Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers) and Jessica Ennis (Sheffield) were having a private race of their own - in the lead.

 

What a finish it was, as Ennis held on to win in 23.56, a personal best, improving on her old record by 0.20, with Sotherton second in 23.57 and Kluft third in 23.86.

 

With France’s former World champion Eunice Barber pulling out of the competition after the second event, Kluft leads overnight with 3990 from Sotherton, the Commonwealth champion, with 3866, followed by Ennis, in third place, with 3861.


“It is surreal” said Ennis of being in that position. It gives me so much confidence for tomorrow. I ran my heart out in the 200m.”
Sotherton, the Olympic bronze medallist, said: “It is great to be in one piece, my injury seems to have held up. It has been a good day overall, though my high jump was disappointing.”

 

Louise Hazel (Peterborough) making her Championship debut is 18th overnight with 3531, having run a PB of 24.12 in her 200m race.

Earlier in the evening session, Ennis made a great start with a shot put PB of 12.72m, improving her old best by 36 centimetres, while Sotherton was pleased to produce a PB of 14.27m. Hazel recorded 11.62m.


But it was in the middle distance races where British athletes had to pick themselves up from the floor. The first fall came in the women’s 800m, where Amanda Pritchard (Cardiff) suffered a British senior debut she will never forget.

 

Pritchard was so delighted to have made the team after her superb run at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix, but as the race reached the home turn, she was sent crashing.

 

Elisa Cusma, of Italy, moved out in front of her at the back of the pack and Pritchard went tumbling as it looked like she was caught. She recorded 2:12.32 in last place and then after a long wait the news came that the British protest had been successful and Pritchard will run in the next round on Tuesday.


Becky Lyne (Hallamshire Harriers), who has finished second in the Grand Prix meetings in Oslo and London this summer, has shown such maturity in the manner she runs. Here, she dominated the race, setting the pace and dictating to win in 2:01.87, while in the second heat, Jemma Simpson (Newquay & Par AC) qualified after finishing third in 2:01.55 in a race won by Olga Kotlyarova, of Russia, in 2:01.08.


“It was a good race for me” said Lyne. “I felt comfortable with the pace and I feel strong. In the semi-finals, it will not be about time but about positions.”

 

Michael East (Newham & Essex Beagles) earned selection for the Championships at the last moment with his run at Crystal Palace having been injured for a large part of the year. But as he reached the final 100m in his 1500m heat, he trod on the heel of the runner in front and fell. It ended with coming home in 4:11.89 in a race won by Ukraine’s Ivan Hesko, in 3:47.12, where Britain’s Stephen Davies (Newport) was 10th in 3:48.64.

 

But Britain will have a competitor in the semi-final after Andrew Baddeley (Harrow AC) finished seventh in the second heat, going through as one of the fastest qualifiers, in 3:41.92 in a heat won by Mehdi Baala, of France, in 3:39.74.

 

After finishing second to Olympic champion Stefan Holm, of Sweden, at Crystal Palace, there was no repeat performance in the High Jump for Germaine Mason (Birchfield Harriers).

 

He finished equal 17th overall, failing at 2.23m and even though Martyn Bernard (Unattached) was 14th, he also failed to progress to the final, missing out on countback after clearing that mark on the second attempt.

 

Adam Scarr (Enfield & Haringey), on his Senior GB & NI debut, failed to clear the opening height of 2.15m.

It will be a big day tomorrow for the men in the 100m, as both Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers) and Mark Lewis-Francis (Birchfield Harriers) made it through, but Tyrone Edgar (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) went out in the second round.


Chambers was fourth in 10.39 in a race won by Poland’s Dariusz Kuc, in 10.32, while Lewis-Francis was second in his heat in 10.33 to Ronald Pognon, of France, who won in 10.19.

Edgar had won his heat in the first round but he was fifth this time in 10.51 as Andrey Yepishin, of Russia, triumphed in 10.40.

 

The javelin has been won at the European Championships by Steve Backley on the last four occasions. He now, of course, has retired, but there will be a Briton in the final after Nick Nieland, the Commonwealth champion, made it through with 80.40m on his first attempt.

 

 

The Men’s Long Jump features the three best Britons of all time and the trio successfully made it into the final. Greg Rutherford (Marshall Milton Keynes) progressed with his first and only effort, 8.07m, Tomlinson went through with his second effort, 7.95m, and Morgan with his first, 7.94m.

 

In the night’s only track final, Kathy Butler (Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow) ran a season’s best 32:01.04 to finish 12th in a race won by Russian Inga Abitova in 30:31.42.


Mara Yamauchi (Harrow AC) was 13th in 32:07.90 with Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow) 15th in 32:12.50, a season’s best.