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UK Athletics

Rooney takes Beijing Bronze

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There was mild disappointment for the Norwich Union GB & NI team at the Chaoyang Stadium on Thursday 17 August, as Martyn Rooney won bronze in the 400m – equalling GB’s best ever position in a world junior 400m, but not the colour the Croyden Harrier had come to Beijing to collect. There was personal disappointment for Robbie Grabarz and Ruth Senior, whilst Alex Nelson qualified for the 200m final.


Martyn Rooney saw his hopes of World Junior Gold fade in the last 20 metres of thrilling 400m final when finishing 3rd to two athletes posting personal best performances. The title favourite who had entered the competition as world number one, led in the home straight but could not answer the last minute attack by Trinidad’s Renny Quow (45.74) or USA’s Justin Oliver 45.78 – taking bronze with 45.87 seconds. It was a tough experience for the young talent who started the year brightly in Melbourne and has shown great progress in returning from injury this summer – and he was equally as mature in his response to defeat: “It was my race to lose and I lost it,” he admitted. “I didn’t get there and they took advantage on the day and ran PBs – fair play to them that’s what happens, this is championship running. “I’m going to concentrate on the relay now and hopefully we’ll win. As I haven’t got what I wanted over 400m, whatever the fastest relay split was in Gothenburg (44.5) last week – well I want to beat that with what I do here.”


Alex Nelson (City of Stoke) made further progress in the 200m when he qualified for the final after finishing second in his semi final. After coming off the bend clear by two metres over American Willie Perry he faded slightly in the last 40m, but seeing he was well clear of third, eased up in 21.19 to qualify for tomorrow’s final as fifth fastest. Rion Pierre (Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) found himself in a loaded semi final and finished last in 21.54.


Robbie Grabarz could not raise his game from the qualifying competition and sadly made an early exit from the high jump. In a competition dominate by the excellent heights cleared by local favourite Haiqiang Huang of China, Grabarz was the first to leave the stage – failing at 2.10. It was a devastating blow for the Bedford jumper who left the arena  - which later became the stage for Huang to clear 2.32 in front of an adoring home crowd.


In the Decathlon, Daniel Awde returned to the competition to make the most of his competitive opportunities in the pole vault and the javelin this evening – although he later pulled out prior to the 1500, still suffering slightly from the foot and ankle niggle which ejected him from the high jump the night before. His pole vault – although not a PB was a good event, clearing a height of 4.40m finishing fifth in his pool – scoring 731 points to take him to a total of 5305 and 20th position. Then what was to become his final event of the two days – the javelin. Awde managed 46.77 for a points score of 541 – within a metre of his personal best and another increment in his steep learning curve. Reflecting on his two days the usually confident youngster was honest about the causes of his lacklustre performance: “I found this place scary as hell,” he revealed. “Just being here was daunting and I let it get to me. The first three events I was so nervous and messed up then when I relaxed and enjoyed myself I did things better. “In future I need to focus on myself and do things for fun – if only to make sure I don’t get so worked up I can’t perform. “I know where I need to improve over the winter – I need to bulk up – but I need to work on my throws most of all. They have to improve  - I need to be strong across the programme – the other improvements will come along but I know I need to get discus and javelin right.”



In the 400m Hurdles, Perri Shakes Drayton (Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets) was unable to improve on her consecutive PBs of previous rounds but finished her weeks work at Beijing with the knowledge that she has further improved in an event she looks set to dominate in Great Britain.  Despite finishing last in the final with 59.37, she knew that she had fulfilled the promise she had shown in an event she could still claim to be a newcomer to. “That was so hard, but I knew it would be,” she said between gasps for breath.

“Its been a great experience coming here but I know now what its about and its been good to be here and do something. “Being women’s team captain has been easy for me really – considering what I can offer to the role – I like to motivate people – like Asha (Philip) – who I’ve been sharing a room with, and in return she’s been motivating me. It’s been a good week for our room!”


In the 3,000m steeplechase, Ruth Senior (City of Norwich) showed a bunch of faster, stronger and more experience athletes how to behave in a steeplechase final when she took on the pace two laps in ahead of Kenyan favourite Caroline Chepkurui. The speed which resembled a crawl after a rushed start became dangerous for the mid pack runners and Senior decided to take control of her own destiny by taking the lead if only so she could sight the barriers better. The gutsy positioning did not change for another lap or two and Senior remained in the top four before athletes began to up the pace in the latter stages. But despite an intelligent run, a vast personal best in qualifying and finishing only one second off her new PB in tonight’s race where she clocked 10.13.58, she was almost inconsolable. “I wanted to do so much better, I was pleased with the PB in qualifying but I just didn’t run it right and I’m just so disappointed. “They were messing around with the pace early on and I just wanted it to move on because there was pushing and tripping. “If anyone had told me at the beginning of the season I’d finish 9th in the world final or that I would run 10.12 I’d have been pleased but I wanted to run so much quicker. I know I’ve got more there.”