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Maduaka misses out on medal

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Joice Maduaka (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) came agonisingly close to winning a medal in the 100m on Wednesday night at the European Championships, in front of a packed stadium in Gothenburg.

 

But it was not to be, Maduaka finished fourth in the 100m final in 11.24 seconds. Drawn in lane four, with Belgium’s Kim Gevaert on her inside, she had a great chance, but in the end Maduaka left herself with too much to do, after a slow start.

Gevaert won in 11.06 seconds followed by Russian duo Yekaterina Grigoryeva and Irina Khabarova, both timed at 11.22 seconds.

”I was so focussed,' said Maduaka. 'I looked up and saw I had finished fourth and tried to stop the tears. But I am really proud of myself. I have come so far in the last year and I do plan to go onto Beijing and do my best there.”

 

Emma Ania (Shaftesbury Barnet) did not make it into the final. She slipped out of her blocks in the semi-final and never recovered, finishing sixth in 11.49 seconds. “I was embarrassed ” said Ania of her start.

 

Marlon Devonish (Coventry Godiva) had another solid run in the second round of the 200m. In the morning, in the first round of the 200m, he was the quickest in the field with 20.53, equalling his season’s best, before winning his second round race in 20.67, and again looking very much in control.

 

Tim Abeyie (Woodford Green and Essex Ladies) was seventh in the second heat in 21.17 seconds, a race won by David Alerte, of France, in 20.68, and went out. In the final heat, Rikki Fifton (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) in his first major championships produced a superb run, powering off the bend in the lead, he held on to finish second behind Johan Wissman and book his place in the semi final, clocking 20.73 seconds.

 

Fifton said afterwards: “I was so fired up in the blocks, I just wanted to get out. I am know I am in PB shape.”

 

In the 400m final, Tim Benjamin (Belgrave Harriers) began slowly from lane one as he promised, saving something in reserve, but it was not enough.

 

Having run so little this year because of injury, he was beaten for race-fitness as much as anything else. Benjamin was sixth in 45.89 as Marc Raquil, of France, charged through in his trademark style to snatch victory on the line 45.02.

 

Benjamin said afterwards: “I’m gutted, I would have been able to win that race if I hadn’t had so many problems this year. I’ll be back.”

 

Tasha Danvers Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) really went for it in the final of the 400m hurdles, and how she had to running from lane one.

 

But though she was looking smooth after the first 200m, she could not maintain her start. She finished seventh in 55.56 as Russian Yevgeniya Isakova ran a personal best to win in 53.93 and beat Olympic champion Fania Halkia, of Greece, almost on the line.

Danvers Smith said: 'I'm very optimistic about next year, this is my first full season back. I have to remember what it is like to compete in major championships again. I really wanted a medal, but I didn't have it in me today.'

 

In the final of the 1500m, Andy Baddeley (Harrow AC) finished sixth in the final of the 1500m in 3:42.31 as defending champion, Frenchman Mehdi Baala, retained his title in 3:39.02.

 

Baddeley made his move just before the bell, but along the back straight, the pace proved too hot and he had to battle to stay in touch. He said: “I came here wanting to run well in a GB vest. I think I’ve done that. I did the job today, I ran aggressively so I’m pleased.”

 

Rhys Williams (Cardiff AAC), the European Under-23 champion, won his semi-final in the 400m hurdles in 49.58, running with fluency and bundles of confidence.

 

Williams made his mark early on by attacking the first two hurdles well, and along the home straight he charged through to secure first place.

 

”I was really afraid before the start because I felt so nervous,” said Williams. “But now I am happy. Tomorrow it will be much harder because there are a lot of good guys.”

 

Williams was the fifth fastest to qualify, with the quickest being Marek Plawgo, of Poland, who won the first semi final in 49.13.

In that race, Ryan Dinham (Belgrave), making his British debut, was last. Then he was disqualified trail leg around one of the barriers.

David Greene (Swansea Harriers) also failed to progress as a fastest loser after finishing third in his semi final in 50.66, as Greek Periklis Iakovakis won in 49.43.

 

Nicola Sanders (Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow) is through to tomorrow’s final of the 400m, but Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet) was up against it, having run a PB the day before.

 

Sanders qualified in fourth place in her semi-final in 51.25, having enough strength in the home straight not to have to worry too much about Daniela Reina, of Italy, overtaking her. Bulgarian Vanya Stambolova won the race in 49.69, the fastest time in Europe this year.

 

21-year-old Okoro was eighth in her semi in 52.94 as Russian Olga Zaytseva won in 50.49.  “I wanted to get out hard but it was a totally different level,” said Okoro. “I am glad to have had the opportunity of racing as an individual at a major championship. I ran my socks off to qualify. It has been a great experience.”