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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS DAY ONE

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Mo Farah wins 5000m Helsinki 2012

27 June 2012

At the end of day one at  the 21st European Athletics Championship in Helsinki, the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team have claimed the first gold medal.

Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) retained his European 5000m title with a dominant display and one that certainly bodes well for London 2012.

Below is a summary of the all action in both the morning and evening sessions inside the Olympic Stadium in the Finnish capital.

 

Day One Morning Session

Women’s 100m Heats

Jeanette Kwakye (Michael Afilaka) suffered disappointment in the first round. The 2008 Olympic finalist, who has been struggling with injury this summer, could only manage 7th in a time of 11.98 and therefore does not make the semi-finals.

“It's not enough - I've got no words for it. I think I would have kicked myself had I not tried... It's tough, the timing is brutal,” she admitted.
 
Her compatriot Ashleigh Nelson (Michael Afilaka) qualified for the semi-finals with a season’s best of 11.43 to finish third in the final heat.

 

Women's Long Jump Qualification

There was disappointment for Abigail Irozuru (Larry Achike) in the women’s long jump. The Sale Harrier could only manage 6.19m and as a result failed to make tomorrow’s final. Irozuru, who jumped the Olympic A standard earlier this season is now focussing her attention to another meet before next week’s selection deadline.

“I'm shocked and very disappointed,” she said.

“I've made finals since 2007 from junior championships with further distances than that. I've never jumped 6.19 at a championships.

“There's a women's league in Hendon so I'm going to have to try and fly back, because I thought I would get the distance here.”

 

Men's Shot Put Qualification

19.30m was not enough to see Carl Myerscough qualify for the shot put final. The UK national champion was some way short of his season’s best of 20.10m.

 

Women's High Jump Qualification 

On her senior international debut Isobel Pooley (Fuzz Ahmed) failed to qualify out of group A. 1.78m was not enough to earn the Aldershot athlete a place in tomorrow’s final. Despite the 12th place, Pooley admits she will learn from the experience.

“I'm fine in myself but I don't know what happened to my jumping," she admitted. "I didn't feel stressed out, I felt happy, I felt calm, everything I wanted to do I feel like I did apart from clear the bars. But it's a complete puzzle to me, but I'll work it out and come back stronger next time. I was probably more nervous at the trials this weekend than I was out there, but I need to go away and think about it, I have to enjoy and learn from this because it is my first senior international.”

 

Men’s 400m Hurdles Heats

It was job done for Nathan Woodward (Nick Dakin) and Rhys Williams (Dan Pfaff) in somewhat blustery conditions. Both Team GB hopefuls demonstrated their Olympic credentials with professional performances to come in first in both their heats respectively with times of 50.02 and 50.44.

“I feel relaxed you know – it’s a championship and I'm here to enjoy it, also I just want to keep looking good," said Woodward.

“It is about getting to the Olympics but, we're at a champs now - so to me, I'm just going to concentrate on being at a champs, representing Great Britain, that's my focus here and whatever comes after that will be.”

Williams added:”It's all geared to getting through, I was very nervous after that false start. I have got no choice I have to run faster, you won't win anything running like that. I can't think about it (the Olympics), this is the job in hand. I have to do my best, if I do my best I'm in that team if I don't someone else will beat me to it.

There was disappointment for Richard Yates (Stephen Ball), who failed to qualify for the semi-finals with 5th 52.12.

 

Men’s 100m Heats

Mark Lewis-Francis (Linford Christie) and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Michael Khmel) enjoyed smooth passages into the semi-finals. A season’s best for Aikines-Aryeetey of 10.27 was a welcome return to form for the 23-year-old who finished second behind France’s Christophe Lemaitre.

“That’s what it’s all about – hopefully just improving every round and every race,” he said.

“I haven’t been starting that well but we’ve been doing some work as the Trials last week were abysmal for me – it was one of the things I needed to improve and I got it right there.”

10.39 and 4th place was enough for Lewis-Francis in the first heat.

 

Men's 400m Heats

It was disqualifications galore in the men's 400m heats. Richard Buck (Steve Fudge) and Luke Lennon-Ford (Linford Christie) were both disqualified for running outside of their lanes. However, after a successful appeal Buck was reinstated. Indeed, a total of six athletes were disqualified for lane infringements during the 400m heats.

"I’m not going to appeal, I don’t know, I've nowhere to go from here anyway," said Lennon-Ford. "Everything happens for a reason I suppose so, I hope in some way I can still get selection for the Olympics."

 

Women’s Javelin Qualification

Laura Whittingham's (Esa Utriainen) European Championships ended at the first attempt in qualification group A. 52.82m was only good enough for 9th place and the Sale Harrier was disappointed with her performance despite suffering with a multitude of injuries this term.
 
"I had an injury for a while but it's ok, that wasn't the problem," she reflected. "I have been struggling to find my throwing again this season after elbow and shoulder injuries so it's been tough. I guess it's the experience of a championship which is valuable but it's not the experience I was hoping for."

Meanwhile there were no such problems for Goldie Sayers (Dan Pfaff). Sayers’ throw of 60.90m meant she topped qualification group B. Afterwards the Belgrave Harrier spoke about the importance of the European Championships as she prepares for the Olmypics.

"It’s an important competition this for me, it’s great preparation for London and there are not many people missing from the javelin that will be there in London," she acknolwedged.

"I feel very good at the moment, and I'm pleased to be out of the stadium while a few of my rivals are still out there." 

Women’s 400m Hurdles Heats

Rain descended on the Olympic Stadium as Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin) stepped onto the track, but it did not deter the Birchfield Harrier as she claimed a place in the semi-finals.

Although not a desired time and position - 57.18 and 5th - Beesley conceded there is room for improvement.

“I'm surprised I got through, it felt like a horrible race," she said. "That felt like my season this year, raining as I walked out. But hey what can you do I'm well practised. My stride pattern wasn't working there, but I'm more prepared there for the tightness of the bends now for the semis. It is pretty tight, but I've raced on worse and people run fast on it so it can't be so bad.”

 

Men's 800m Heats

800m duo Gareth Warburton (Darrell Maynard) and Mukhtar Mohammed (Mustafa Mohammed) eased into the semi-finals. Warburton raced in search of the A standard to secure his Olympics spot but agonisingly just missed it (1:45.80).

“I needed another A standard and that’s what I tried to do – I just missed it by two-tenths, but I couldn’t do much more than I did today and I’ve got another shot at it tomorrow.

“I’ve got to rest up now and do the same again tomorrow! It’s for the Olympics so I’ve got to go for it. Hopefully it'll be a faster race.”

Mohammed was second in the third heat with 1:47.13 and was delighted to make it through.

“It was good, I qualified, tomorrow's a new day and I want to do the same again,” he said. “I think tomorrow will be much faster so I'm going to aim to get that (Olympic) standard, there should be good people in my heat so I'm going to push for that qualifying. This is to get the experience and get the standard.”

 

Day One Evening Session 
 
Women's 400m Heats

Lee McConnell (Rodger Harkins) was the only female Brit to qualify for the semi-finals. The Scottish athlete ran a good race in heat 3 in a time of 52.58 to finish second.

“That was alright, I felt better, I felt I was running more in a flow than I have been in other races and I felt strong so quite happy with it,” said McConnell. “I think it's because I didn't have anyone else to think about and I was able to focus on me and go with how the body felt and that helped. I think I can run a bit quicker tomorrow.

It was not so good news for Nicola Sanders (Tony Lester) and Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball). Sanders withdrew prior to the competition having not recovered sufficiently from the Aviva 2012 Trials. While Massey finished a disappointing sixth in heat one and did not make the next round.

 

Men's 3000m Steeplechase Semi-Finals

British trio Luke Gunn (Bud Baldaro), James Wilkinson (Phillip Townsend) and Rob Mullett (David Leech) all failed to make the final. Gunn, the 2012 national champion, did not complete the race due to a fall on lap two. Wilkinson was the closest to qualifying but narrowly missed out in 8th spot with  8:39.19, while Mullet finished two places below his Aviva GB & NI colleague.

"I was just settling down when out of nowhere I clipped a barrier with no explanation and took a tumble but I popped straight back up," said Gunn. "I've always said if you fall over you should jump straight back up and make sure you don’t lose any more time. But my knee wasn’t grazed, I hit it hard and those barriers are heavy, I was limping on and just couldn’t carry on.

"I'm absolutely devastated, then I had to sit in the middle of the track just contemplating what had happened, it‘s just devastating."

 

Men's Decathlon Day One

At the half way point Ashley Bryant (Ian Grant) finished day one with 3901 points.

“3901 is a bit down on my best but I’ve had some positives,” he said. “I thought I was in shape to start better but it wasn’t the case today, it’s good to have a senior champs, but a good thing is the junior champs I did, they really give you a feel for what it’s going to be like - it’s the same but on a bigger scale and I haven’t found it overwhelming, and I wanted to come out and try enjoy it for the first time."


Men's High Jump Qualification

Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed) and Samson Oni (Trevor Llewelyn) eased their way through the qualification round with jumps of 2.23m. However, it was the end of the road for Tom Parsons (Aston Moore), who failed to clear 2.15m.

 

Men’s 5000m Final

Mo Farah retained his European 5000m title to win Britain’s first gold of the championships on day one.

A time of 13:29.91 was almost a clear two seconds ahead of second place Arne Gabius signalled Farah’s dominance in the race. The win sends out a clear statement of intent ahead to Farah’s rivals ahead of London 2012.

“The race went well, I thought I was going to go similar, but the reason I went to the front was that there were too many guys there and it was too slow. I wanted to run fast, but my aim was to run hard without pulling anything,” said Farah.

“I knew training had been going well and had good speed, but in my position you always have to respect and there were a couple of guys there where I had to work hard until the end. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be worked on, I'll look back and watch the race and sit down with my coach and tell him how I felt, but today the most important thing was to get a good race, see what I could run on the last lap.”

Rory Fraser and Mitch Goose finished 14th and 23rd.

 

Women's 100m Semi-Finals

Ashleigh Nelson equalled her season's best time of 11.43  to finish sixth in the second semi-final but against a strong field it was not enough to make the final.

 

Men's 100m Semi-FInals

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey is through to his first senior international final after finishing second in his semi-final. For Mark Lewis-Francis it was a different story as he failed to make the final.

"It looked alright. It was a good run and I qualified for the final – my first senior final – so I’m happy , job done," said a delighted Harry.

"I could have done with that plus two wind! It’s interesting because the rain’s coming but I’m through to my first final so I’m happy."

 

 

 

The Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team are present for the five day track and field extravaganza. The squad flew out to Scandinavia on Monday and you can follow the action in various ways:

Live on the European Athletics website

BBC Red Button & Online - Thursday 28 (15:15-18:00), Friday 29 (16:00-20:35) and Saturday 30 (17:00-20:35); BBC Two & Online: Sunday 1 July (14:00-18:00)

Daily reports will be available here on the UKA website along with Twitter updates @UK_athletics

Ones to Watch

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey – 100m 
Robbie Grabarz – High Jump
Lawrence Okoye – Discus
Abi Oyepitan – 200m
Jenny Meadows – 800m
Rhys Williams, Nathan Woodward – 400m hurdles
Aikines-Aryeetey, Dwain Chambers, Tyrone Edgar, James Ellington, Christian Malcolm, Danny Talbot - 4x100m

Aviva GB & NI squad