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Sotherton strikes Silver at Euro Indoors

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THE opening day of the 29th European Indoor Championships in Birmingham saw Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers) win silver in the pentathlon, and break the Commonwealth record, for the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team.

As Sweden’s Carolina Kluft won gold after another tremendous multi-events competition - beating Sotherton by just 17 points - there was a tremendous performance from Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield) who set a personal best by finishing sixth.

Kluft won with 4944, Sotherton was second with 4927, a pb by 194, Karin Ruckstuhl, of the Netherlands, was third with 4801 with Ennis scoring 4716, beating her old best by an amazing 315.

After three events Sotherton had led with 2989 from Kluft with 2987 and the Long Jump proved crucial. They both specialise in this discipline and what a competition it proved.

Kluft led with 6.44m, Sotherton took over with 6.46m before the Swede, in her final round, landed a brilliant 6.59m.

 Sotherton’s response was 6.51m, but Kluft was ahead and Sotherton had to beat her by 1.7 in the 800m and though the Briton won, it was by half a second. That close!

Sotherton led all the way to win in 2:12.54, her third personal best of the day, with Kluft close enough behind her in 2:13.04.

Sotherton said: “I was up against the Olympic champion and the greatest female athlete ever, so to come second shows I am going the right way. I have really worked my guts out and it has been fantastic.

“With people like Carolina in the field it always makes it so much tougher but it is still fun. It has been really great day. I would rather wish she had not done quite as well. But in the 800m, she knew she had to run hard or lay down and die.”

Ennis, who had finished ninth in Long Jump with 6.19m, finished in the same position in the 800m in 2:17.03.

Ennis said: “I am over the moon. I have been really pleased with the way it has gone.”

 

But there was disappointment and annoyance for Andy Turner (Sale Harriers Manchester) after he missed out on a medal in the 60m hurdles final.

He was in lane eight but he was only fourth in 7.67 as Gregory Sedoc, of the Netherlands, won in 7.63.

Turner had run poorly in his semi, finishing only fourth, which meant a bad draw for the final.

He said: “I messed up royally, it is as simple as that. I did not get out of the blocks well and I was struggling over the hurdles. I am devastated.

“It was there for the taking. I do not like making excuses and I did not perform when I had to.”

Allan Scott (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) was sixth in 7.71 and said: “That was there for the taking, especially after that start. It is annoying. The semi-final would have got me silver.”

 

Amid the glory of Britain’s first medal, there was the proof of the thin divide of how cruel sport can be. Karen Harewood (Corby) has been an international athlete for less than 12 months and there did not seem the slightest hint of danger as she led at the start of the third lap.

But suddenly she was sent flying as Russian Mariya Shapayeva tripped her and in an instant, there were bodies everywhere across the track. Portugal’s Maria Carmo Tavares and Eleni Filandra, of Greece, went tumbling over, but instantly there was sign that the injury to Harewood was not minor. First aid was called and she was writhing around in agong, unable to move her leg. GB team doctors Paul Dijkstra and Bruce Hamilton were amongst the first to assist before Harewood was taken away on a stretcher.

She was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg.

Shapayeva was later disqualified but she issued an apology.

 

The 800m had started so well for Britain with Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) qualifying in second place in the first heat.

She clocked 2:04.53 as Russian Oksana Zbrozhek won in 2:03.67 while there was progress for Jenny Meadows (Wigan & District) in the final heat which was some race.

Poland’s Aneta Lemiesz was give victory in 2:02.68, the same time as Meadows in second. Okoro described her run as messy and said: “Everyone wants to qualify. I knew it was going to be tough and I am pleased I have come through.

“I have had a brilliant winter so far and rounds suit me well.”

Meadows said: “Just before I went out on the track, Dave Collins had a quiet word with me and said ‘do it for Karen’. I did for myself aswell. Karen was being tactically sound and making it faster than the first heat. I feel so dreadfully sorry for her.

“In my heat there were four girls who were sub two-minutes, and in total there are 14 sub-2:01 runners in this Championship which shows how good the quality is. If I can get to the final, I can give myself another target.”

 

Both Britons, James Brewer (Cheltenham Harriers) and Richard Hill (Notts) progressed in the men’s 800m. Brewer, 18, is the UK champion, and he looked good in his heat in what is proving to be quite a few weeks for the teenager. He has shown great maturity for someone so young on such a stage and he won in 1:50.40.

Hill, 21, was not as prolific in terms of his position in his heat - he was fourth - but his time of 1:50.46 was enough to see him through as one of the fastest losers.

His race was won by Arnoud Okken in 1:49.15.

Brewer said: “I decided to treat it like any other race. I went in and tried to relax. Okay, there are some older people and better people but it is still an 800m race.”

Hill said: “There was some argy-bargy early on and I got pushed all over the place. But just getting here was a bonus. I twisted my ankle before Christmas and had four weeks with no track work.

“I felt a bit flat and I had the hardest heat.”

 

Helen Clitheroe (Preston Harriers) has been running superbly this winter and she looked good as she qualified for tomorrow’s final of the 1500m. She led her heat the whole way, except for the last few strides when she crossed the line in second in 4:10.96 as Slovenia’s Sonja Roman won 4:10.68.

“I was determined to get through the heat but it was still quite nervy,” said Clitheroe. “I cannot wait for the final.”

But her fellow Briton Katrina Wootton is out. She fifth in the second heat in 4:19.69 as Lidia Chojecka, of Poland, won in 4:16.24.

Wootton said: “I have trained so hard and I just cannot get it right when it matters.”

 

Nicola Sanders (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Harrow), the fastest in Europe this year, did more than just win her semi-final of the 400m. She triumphed in some style, ensuring she was in control to gain the best draw for tomorrow’s final.

Sanders triumphed in 51.06 and said: “It was a good comfortable run and I am glad to win because it means a good lane in the final. I am feeling good about tomorrow.”

But team mate Emma Duck (Team Southampton) is out after she finished fifth in her semi in 53.02 as Ilona Usovich, of Belarus, won in 51.23.

“I found it hard,” said Duck. “I tried to run it like a final but I felt a little tired.”

 

Robert Tobin (Basingstoke & Mid Hants) produced one of the best performances of his burgeoning career in his heat of the semi-final of the 400m. He was just beaten on the line by David Gillick, the defending champion, the difference being 0.03 as the Irishman won in 46.16.

Tobin said: “I fell asleep twice. Once round the second bend and let him come in and then again down the back straight I was in cruise control and he attacked me on the bend. I have learned the lesson.”

But Steven Green (Newham & Essex Beagles) did not make it. He was fourth in his in 47.47 as Germany’s Bastian Swillims won in 45.92.

Green said: “I am fairly happy. I am running reasonably consistently.”

 

Sara McGreavy (Sale Harriers Manchester) ran a fine race in the final of the 60m hurdles but the power was too strong for her and she was fifth in 8.04 as Sweden’s Susanna Kallur won in 7.87.

McGreavy said: “I scraped into the final because in my heat I did not work off the hurdles as well as I should. I was up there but I have only been developing my strength properly since September and that told.”