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World Youth Championships Day 1: PM Report

Ashlee Nelson
Ashlee Nelson
The Norwich Union GB&NI team maintained their solid start to the World Youth Championships currently taking place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, with the sprinters in particular catching the eye.

 

After the first day’s action, speed merchants Asha Philip (Newham & Essex), Ashlee Nelson (City of Stoke), Jordan Huggins (Enfield & Haringey), Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes) and Jordan McGrath (Solihull & Small Heath Harriers) all find themselves nicely poised for success ahead of their respective semi-finals on Thursday.

 

In the first round of the men’s 400m, Clarke and McGrath both qualified from their heats in a manner that will give them nothing but confidence for Thursday’s semi finals. For Clarke, the job was virtually done at 300m as he took apart the field in Heat 1 and could afford to coast home in 48.03.

 

Afterwards, he said: “It actually felt really comfortable and I could jog the last 100m. I’m surprised at the form I am in.  I’m just going to relax, get a good sleep and recover for tomorrow. Hopefully I can run well again in the semi final, because I want to get a good lane (for the final).

 

Equally impressive was McGrath who produced a remarkably mature run from the outside lane.  Despite early pressure from the early pacesetters to his inside, he kept his head to eventually claim the lead 50 metres out for a fine win in 48.25.

 

He said: “It felt good. In the first 200, I got caught by the Jamaican, but I just kept thinking to myself that I’m stronger than all the rest, if I keep my form I should reel them in and that is how it happened. Now, I’m just going to warm down, watch a couple of my mates race, go back (to the athletes’ village) and get a good meal inside me.  It’s all about making that final.”

 

In the women’s 100m, Asha Philip (Newham & Essex) and Ashlee Nelson (City of Stoke) laid the gauntlet down to their rivals as they headed the qualifiers for Thursday’s semi-finals.

 

Philip won Heat 3 in mightily impressive style, easing up in 11.53. Afterwards, the smiling 16 year-old said: “I felt a girl alongside me, but I am always being told to race the time not the person and it helped.

 

“I’ve trained more than ever before for this, so I am hoping for the best.  Now I’m going to try and get some sleep and try and stay off my feet before tomorrow.”

 

In the following heat, Nelson endured the prolonged false-start disqualification of Jamaican Gayon Evans, which rather than distract her, merely inspired her as she came tearing through to win in 11.65.

 

Speaking of the false starts, she said: “It angers me, it makes me run more aggressive. I don’t want to be starting, stopping and starting again. I just want to get on with it. I was just thinking drive, drive, drive all the way through.”

 

In the men’s 100m, there were mixed fortunes for the British athletes.  Jordan Huggins (Enfield & Haringey) battled through to the last 16, whilst Olufunmi Sobodu (Blackheath & Bromley) missed out.

 

Sobodu was drawn in the tough first quarter final, which as it turned out, produced the two fastest qualifiers in Kenneth Gilstrap (USA) and Keynan Parker (Canada). Sobudu was always up against it and finished fifth in 10.79. 

 

Afterwards, he said: “My start wasn’t there, I didn’t run my own race.  I will talk to my coaches and see what they say. My heat was faster and the time I ran there would have got me through.”

 

In the second quarter-final, Huggins was drawn on the unfavoured lane eight, but kept focussed, finishing third in 10.76.  “It’s getting better.” He said. “That was definitely better than the last round. I was by myself and had to focus on my own race. I qualified, so that’s enough.”

 

Looking ahead to Thursday’s semi-finals, he said: “Sleep, that’s all I want to do right now.  I’ve got the morning to myself and time to focus and, hopefully, get myself in that final.”

 

In the men’s 800m, Chris Harvey (Cannock & Stafford AC) had an anxious wait before he was assured of his place in Thursday’s semi finals. After spending most of the race leading with eventual race winner, Samwel Chepkwony of Kenya, he was gobbled up in the closing stretch and finished fourth. 

 

But he was later rewarded for his willingness to take on the pace, by grabbing the second of eight fastest loser slots. Indeed his time of 1:53.14 actually made his the fifth fastest qualifier out of the 24 semi finallists.

 

“It’s a bit of a lifeline.” He said. “I will just try and run the next round the same, but just to be more aware and try and stay as strong as I can over the last 200m.

 

 

Dan Pembroke
Dan Pembroke

In the women’s 3000m final, Beth Potter (City of Glasgow) produced a gutsy effort to place 10th in 9:41.04. “I’m happy with the position but not the time. Top ten, that’s what I was aiming for.  I actually thought that it would be faster than that, the first half was a lot faster.

 

Speaking about racing the Kenyans, who almost inevitably produced the winner in the form of Marcy Cherono in 8:53.94, she said: “It was my first time against them. It was okay at the beginning, but then they just bombed off..”

 

In the field, there was disappointment for Dan Pembroke (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) and Shaunagh Brown (Blackheath & Bromley).  Pembroke was unable to put his recent back problems behind him as he finished 18th in men’s javelin qualifying with a best effort of 63.95m.

 

“It just wasn’t the day for it.” He said. “I’ve had problems with my back and haven’t been able to train for a month and a half.  My core stability has just gone. Next year I’ve got the Commonwealth Youth Games in India and I’ll be on form for them.”

 

In the women’s discus final, Brown could not recapture the 50 metre-plus form she craved.  She produced a best effort of 41.95m, which placed her 11th, outside the top eight and therefore unable to take her full quota of six throws.

 

Less fortunate was Louise Small (Aldershot, Farnham, & District), who missed out on the women's 1500m final by just one place. The 15 year-old ran bravely in Heat 1, where she battled to keep in contention throughout, eventually coming home sixth in 4:31.37.

 

But it was not quite enough and after the second and final heat, she lay 13th overall and just outside qualification. Afterwards, she said: "There was lots of pushing and shoving. I was in the second lane for a lot of the race, when I really wanted to get to the inside." No doubt the experience will hold her in good stead for the future.

 

 

Shaunagh Brown
Shaunagh Brown

World Youth Championships Day 1: AM Report

The sprinters amongst the Norwich Union GB & NI team came bursting out of their blocks in superb style as the World Youth Championships got underway in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Wednesday morning, whilst thrower Shaunagh Brown (Blackheath & Bromley) secured a spot in the women’s discus final. 

 

Asha Philip (Newham & Essex), Ashlee Nelson (City of Stoke), Olufunmi Sobodu (Blackheath & Bromley) and Jordan Huggins (Enfield and Haringey) all cruised through to the first round of heats in the women’s and men’s 100m competitions.

 

Philip, ranked world youth no1, took heat 3 in impressive style in 11.61, over half-a-second clear of her opponents.  Afterwards, she said: “It was okay.  You can’t go too easy because you never know in the heats.  You have to run fast, make sure you qualify, but not put it all out there.  Three rounds to go!”

 

Nelson, younger sister of Alex, who took 100m silver behind fellow Brit Harry Akines-Aryeetey at these championships in Marrakech, Morrocco two years ago, was equally impressive.

 

The 16-year-old made a superb start and never looked in any trouble whatsoever as she won heat 7 in 11.70. “I got out for a change.  My start is improving.  Mike McFarlane (UK Athletics sprints coach) has been helping me out with it.” She said.

 

“Once I got in front, I was aware of what was happening around me and could take it kind of easy. I’m just looking forward to the second round now.  I’m just going to go out and chill and block everything else out.” She said.  The second round of the women’s 100m is scheduled to begin at 17:00 UK time.

 

In the men’s event, Sobudu, a training partner of Philip, had an early scare before securing his passage. “I false started, so there was a bit of pressure. But it went alright.” He said. 

 

On running from lane 1, he said: I don’t really like it, but I’ve had it four times this year, so am getting used to it.  I’m looking forward to the semis now.  I just want to make the final and anything can happen from there.”

 

In heat 9, Huggins was second to USA’s Kenneth Gilstrap who clocked 10.81, with the Brit qualifying just one-tenth of a second adrift.  However, the 16 year-old, who has a PB of 10.45, was far from happy with his performance.

 

“I didn’t feel good at all.  Maybe it was nerves or something.” He said.  “None of it was good; the start, the middle and the finish.  But, I’m okay, I’ve just got to step it up for the next round. I have to think about what I’ve done wrong, what I’ve got to do right and make it happen.”

 

The second round of the men’s 100m takes place at 17:55 UK time. In the field, Brown’s first round effort of 45.07m was enough to see her finish fourth in Group B and ninth overall of the 12 qualifiers for tonight’s women’s discus final which takes place at 18:10 UK time.

 

Afterwards, she said: “I’m ranked fourth in the world and I only qualified ninth, so I’m a bit disappointed.  But I qualified and that’s the main thing.  I just have to pull out the big guns for the final now.

 

“I will go home, sleep, rest and eat some bananas for energy.  My main problem was my arm going through before my hip, which means that the discus flutters rather than flies through the air. But I feel glad I got to the final.  Now things can only get better.”

 

The other British action from Wednesday morning session came in the men’s shot qualifying, where Michael Wheeler (Herne Hill Harriers) and Curtis Griffith-Parker (Cambridge Harriers) both missed out on the final. 

 

Wheeler was ninth in Group B with a second round throw of 18.19m to finish 19th overall, with the top 12 progressing to tonight’s final.  Griffith-Parker was 11th in Group A with a third round effort of 18.15m, to finish one place below Wheeler overall. 

 

Afterwards, 15 year-old Wheeler: “I’m pleased I got 18 metre-plus.  I’m trying to keep over 18 metres all year.  I didn’t use my legs properly, I collapsed a little on my left.  I’m happy though, I’ve got another year in this age group.

 

On what he learned, he said: “Just seeing that there is a different world out there. Britain is just a small island.” Meanwhile a disappointed Griffith-Parker said: “I’m going to go away and do lots of drills and try and correct what was wrong.  I wasn’t getting my feet down quick enough.”