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ennis furthers lead

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Dai Greene

15 August 2009

The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team enjoyed a strong evening session on the opening day of the World Championships in Berlin, Germany. Jessica Ennis shone in the shot put and 200m which saw her take a commanding lead in the heptathlon, and there were excellent performances from 400m hurdler Dai Greene, pole vaulter Kate Dennison and 1500m runner James Brewer.

In the heptathlon, two more events lined up in the Berlin evening sun. Firstly the shot put, then the first day closing discipline of the 200m.

Jessica Ennis (Sheffield) was a determined figure as she began the shot put, knowing she would need to put in a lifetime best performance in order to maintain a lead over far more accomplished throwers who might close in on her on the leader-board.

Her first put of 13.07m, and second put of 12.55m were down on her previous best of 13.97m. However in line with her tag of favourite coming into the World’s, her third attempt was an excellent PB of 14.14m for 803 points, and meant that she maintained her lead with a total of 3070 ahead of reigning Olympic champion Nataliia Dobrynska of the Ukraine with 2932.

Louise Hazel (Birchfield Harriers), throw a series of 11.24m, 10.92m and 11.62m to take 636 points, but the performance saw her slip down the scoreboard slightly to 21st position.

Hazel, however was upbeat about her performance over the opening three events: “It’s been a good start. The pace was a bit slow in the hurdles, it could have been a bit more competitive but I ran well. I’m over the moon with the high jump. Then 11.62m in the shot, I really wanted to get 12m. Overall I’m pleased, to be out there and be points ahead at this point- I’ll take that!”

In the 200m, Ennis looked majestic in clocking a season’s best of 23.25 to win her race and come within one tenth of her lifetime best over the distance.  It gifted her a precious 1054 points and meant she continued to sit in pole position with a total of 4124 points to see her through the night.

“I’m very, very happy I can’t believe it has all gone so well,” she beamed.

“I was slightly disappointed with my hurdles, but to put it together and pull out a good shot was great, what happened in the shot in Osaka was on my mind and I couldn’t let that happen again.

“I know what I need to do tomorrow, I’m going to go and recover, get an ice bath and get my head down, and hopefully have another successful day tomorrow.”

Hazel, possibly inspired by her team mate’s dominance, came out strongly in her race and also won in a season’s best of 24.19 providing a boost of 963 points to her position on the leaderboard.

“I knew I had a fairly good race in me,”  said Hazel. “The people were running the same times as me, and based on my shot put being a bit down I said to my coach Julie (Hollman) I’m just going to blow out the blocks and make it up in the first 60 metres and then just give it a good kick again at 120m.

“And I did! And I got a season’s best – result! I was so relieved. It was brilliant. The day as a whole was up and down but mainly up.”

Hazel sits in 13th position with 3502 points at the overnight stage.

In the men’s 1500m heats, with the top five sure to progress and a further four fastest athletes, the GB&NI trio had their work cut out in the qualifying heats.

Tom Lancashire (Bolton) was first of the middle distance men to toe the line. In a strong field he acquitted himself well with his positioning and held fifth place round the final tightly packed bend. But on the home straight the field galloped away and he was left struggling to end in eighth position with 3:42.68. It was a disappointing end to his World Championship effort in a season where he has made significant inroads on his 1500m PB.

“I did exactly what I wanted to do,” said Lancashire after. “It was just that last 300m. This happened last year and it’s happened again; it’s something I’ve got to figure out really, is it in my training or my race tactics? I don’t know. I know I’m good enough for this level, I know I’ve got the speed; it’s just a case of putting it together in the race. It’s really annoying.”

Andy Baddeley (Harrow) fared better in his qualifying race with a fourth position and a place in Monday’s semi final, after spending much of his heat anonymously tucked away. But his traditional last lap move along the back straight meant he entered the final 200m in a strong position and looked solid in easing up across the line clear in a qualifying spot.

Finally it was the turn of youngster James Brewer (Cheltenham & County), whose performance over the mile at the Aviva London Grand Prix had earned his spot with the team in Berlin. It proved to be a sign of his growing ability in the tough middle distance race environment, as he was not overawed by his surroundings in Berlin and ran a tactically sound race to finish an impressive third place – relaxed enough to look around him as he closed in on the line. His time of 3:37.17 also a PB over the distance.

“It felt good to be honest,” said Brewer.  “I had thought it seemed to be all against me when I got stung by a wasp in the warm up area, but it’s worked out alright. I think anyone’s got a chance in the final. I knew I was in shape but I wasn’t thinking about getting a PB. I knew the race was quick.”

In the second round of the men’s 100m, two out of the three British contingent made further progress.

Firstly, Dwain Chambers (Belgrave) looked in control when blasting away to win his heat in 10.04. Then Tyrone Edgar (Newham & Essex) ignored multiple false starts and subsequent disqualifications in his heat to finish second in 10.12 and also progress to Sunday’s semi final.

However it was bad news for Simeon Williamson (Highgate) who had the toughest task in a semi final line up containing Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt in the next lane. Struggling badly over the last 30m with an apparent leg problem Williamson was unable to hold on as the field swept past leaving him in fifth position with 10.23, and out of the reckoning for a place in Sunday’s semi finals.

“I got cramp after the first couple of steps,” he explained soon after. “I was there until 60m. It was physical not psychological.”

In the women’s pole vault qualifying, Kate Dennison (Sale) made certain of reaching Monday’s final with a confident series of leaps in pursuit of the 4.60m automatic qualifying height. With first time clearances of 4.10m, 4.25m, 4.40m, and 4.55m, she qualified in sixth position out of the two pools.

“I’m happy it’s first job done,” said Dennison. “So now for the final.

“I wasn’t jumping my best, I don’t know as why the warm up felt good – I was just trying to take each height as it came.

“I enjoyed it, I was quite relaxed – perhaps more so than I thought I would be – I was really nervous at the beginning but then the nerves went during the competition and I thought I’m just going to do a job. I had a little blip at 4.50m, but I think it was a good blip because I wasn’t jumping that well so I knew I had to step it up.”

In the first round of the men’s 400m hurdles, Dai Greene (Cardiff) enjoyed a confidence boost with a comprehensive victory in 48.76. For Greene, the connoisseur of the steady start, tonight’s heat was no different, but by the time he reached hurdle eight he was already nosing in front.

“That was good,” he smiled after. “It was well controlled, I didn’t go off too hard and I had a lot of strength at the end.

“When I got to hurdle eight in the lead it was good as my strongest part of the race is in the final 100,  but I was surprised by how far I went ahead. I was prepared to run my best today and it felt good.”

However Rhys Williams (Cardiff) had a less fortunate ride with a tough heat that saw him finish in fifth position with 49.88, ending his World Championship campaign, and the Welshman offered no excuses for a disappointing performance:

“It just wasn’t good enough,” he admitted. “It kills me to say it because I am a bad, bad loser and I hate the fact that all the hard work I’ve put in this year has come to this.

“I have to put my hands up and say it wasn’t good enough. I’m gutted, I thought I could get to the final or at least close to it.

“I promise you’ve not seen the last of me, I will never ever let that happen again, the best of my career is yet to come.”

Carl Myerscough (Blackpool) could not repeat his strong throw from the morning’s qualifying round and exited the men’s shot put final after just three attempts.  His 18.42m throw in the opening round gave him eleventh place and his next two attempts registered as fouls.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I knew I had to go for it but I kept clipping the board. It was a matter of inches of space - I was going for it so much it had to be all or nothing. Playing safe gets you nowhere, I really don’t know what I will do now.”