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Jessica Ennis WIC 2012

 

09 March 2012

 

On Friday morning at the Atakoy Athletics Arena in Istanbul, Turkey, the Aviva GB & NI team had a strong start to their 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships campaign.

And leading the way in a successful session was Jessica Ennis (Toni Minichiello) who performed well on the opening morning to her World Indoor pentathlon title defence - leading the way after three out of the five events.

Ennis enjoyed a near-perfect first event with a 60m hurdles performance that left rivals floundering in her wake. With her world class Aviva Grand Prix performance fresh in the memory it should not have been a surprise to see Ennis stretch out to a significant lead before even the first hurdle, but the 7.91 clocking – 0.38 ahead of Russian Heptathlon World Champion Tatyana Chernova, meant she completed the first of the five events with an 86 point lead already under her belt, 1150 to Chernova’s 1064.

After she said: “I’m really pleased, it’s the second best time I’ve run in the hurdles so it’s a great start.

“I needed to put down a good time, I knew Chernova had been running well so there's a bit of a distance between us so that's good points.”

On to the high jump and she continued to increase her lead over Chernova, although she did not win the event, exiting with a best clearance of 1.87m. The leap gave her 1067 points and meant following two events the standings were

Ennis holding first with a total of 2217, Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte in second with 2108, and World Champion Chernova in third with 2093.

The final event of the morning was the shot put and the Sheffield athlete did not disappoint, saving her lifetime best performance of 14.79m for the third and final round to bag herself 847 points.

It was a well timed PB with her shot put best not as good as some of her rivals but she departed the morning session with a small but significant lead with 3064 ahead of Skujyte in second with 3054 and the Ukraine’s Natalya Dobrynska in third with 3035.

In rounding off her morning, she sounded a cautionary note:

“I was happy with the hurdles and slightly disappointed with the high jump. To throw a PB in the shot was great as I thought Austra would have the lead after the shot because she's a great thrower,” she said.


“The long jump is next, that's Tatyana [Chernova]'s strong event so things could change in one event.”

The Aviva GB & NI team enjoyed success with other athletes qualifying in the morning’s action. Yamile Aldama (Frank Attoh) made incredibly short work of women’s triple jump qualifying with a first round leap of 14.62m – progressing with the best performance from the first of two qualifying pools.

“I feel a very proud mum right now. It was good I got it in the first round, so I am very happy and very pleased,” she said

“Let's wait for tomorrow. I haven't done it yet let's wait so hopefully I will feel the same.”

In the women’s 400m qualifying Nadine Okyere (Joe Caines) finished third in her heat won by an impressive looking Sanya Richards-Ross for the USA, but she was elevated to second following a disqualification for an automatic qualifying spot to reach this evening’s semi final stage – 53.56 her time.

In her qualifying heat, Shana Cox (Lloyd Cowan) led from the start to take a comfortable victory in 53.24 to also make it through to Friday night’s semi final.

Cox said: “That went well, I always think you go in with a plan, stick to your plan and execute it and that's what I did and I'll get ready for the next round now.

“I’m feeling in really, really good shape and I'm absolutely looking for a medal and a PB.”

In the men’s qualifying both Nigel Levine (Linford Christie) and Richard Buck (Steve Fudge) both progressed to Friday evening’s semis, Levine winning the third heat in 47.56, and Buck taking second place in his heat with 47.05.

The men’s 800m heats saw mixed fortunes for the Aviva GB & NI team representatives Andrew Osagie (Craig Winrow) and Joe Thomas (Arwyn Davies).

Osagie was up first, and in a high quality heat was run out into third spot in the last stride, forcing him to wait out the remaining qualifying races. As it was he was quick enough to proceed with his 1:49.73 and will line up in Saturday night’s semi final.

Thomas however was able to stamp his usual front running authority on the race and led the way from the start to cross the line in first place – also with 1:49.73.

Osagie said: “I got a slight knock in the last few metres when I was trying to squeeze second or first.

“Hopefully it's quick enough to get through but it's frustrating not to have qualified automatically.”

Meanwhile Thomas explained his front running approach to the race:

“Initially everyone got off the line dead quick but they slammed on the breaks at 100m so I thought I'm going to have to take it on here!”

 In the women’s 800m qualifiers, Marilyn Okoro (Ayo Falola) struggled to regain her rhythm in the closing 200m after she was clipped following a stumble by Ethiopian Magiso as they took the bell.

Fading badly, she finished fourth in 2:04.06 to exit the competition.

“It was such a messy race – I wish I’d gone to the front earlier… I just couldn’t keep my stride – but that’s indoor running for you,” she said tearfully.

In the 1500m heats, Lewis Moses (John Nuttall) and James Brewer (Craig Winrow) both struggled against the world class fields finishing ninth and eleventh respectively to end their World Indoor campaigns.

Moses, who clocked 3:45.04 said: “It was tough. My first time at a championships like this, I've got to learn from that and take the positives. Every step closer is a step forward.

“This is my first GB vest - I didn't get one as a junior - so if someone had have given me this in December I would have taken it, even with all those cold mornings, training on Christmas Day and being away from the family.”

 Brewer however, was frustrated with his e perience despite having positioned himself well in second position for a large part of the race, and attempting to take the pace on before being overhauled on the final lap. He finished in 3:47.58:

 “It's taken me so long to fight back to get into a British vest again so I just wanted to run well, but that was embarrassing,” he admitted.

“Birmingham was the fastest I've run in two and a half years, so there are positives from this season, just not really from this weekend.”

Helen Clitheroe (John Nuttall) had a tough second heat in the women’s 3000m qualifying rounds but battled her way through a bunched final lap to take the fifth qualifying spot.

The European Indoor champion had to cope with jostling, pace changes and a fast final kilometre. Just when it looked as though she had a clear run over the last 200m she became boxed in, but did not panic and finished strongly in 9:02.27.

“I stayed as safe as possible throughout the race. I was running a little wide but I thought that's the safest place to be. I could see on the screen that I was probably going to be in the top eight so even if I didn't finish in the top four I would qualify. I'm happy with that,” she concluded.

“I'm ready to be in the mix in the final and I believe I should be in there so that's what I'm ready to do.”

Fastest qualifier for Sunday afternoon’s final was Ethiopian Gelete Berka.

Reports and updates covering the action 32-strong Aviva GB & NI squad are available on www.uka.org.uk and via twitter @uka_athletics  #BackTheTeam.

A full Aviva GB & NI team media guide for Istanbul 2012 can be found here for download http://www.uka.org.uk/media/event-media-guides/

For full results visit: http://www.iaaf.org/Mini/WIC12/Results/ResultsByDate.aspx