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UK Athletics

European U20 Trials

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson


26 June 2011

On day two of the Trials for the European Junior Championships the Bedford climate made a marked improvement on its bluster and wind of 24 hours before with baking hot still conditions. And although the breeze quickened as the afternoon went on there were plenty of qualifying performances to be had.

Most notable performances came by way of Jonny Hay, Jodie Williams and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who finished their weekend’s work with two gold medals a piece.


As expected, the men’s 1500m final lived up to its billing with a superb performance by Jonny Hay (coach: Mick Woods) in securing a 1500m-5000m double for the weekend.

Hay, who tracked the group running wide for much of the race, took to the front prior to the bell and at 300m moved away from the chasing pack. Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) was the only athlete who could match his pace for the first 200m tracking him closely and almost overtaking at the 200m point, but as they rounded the final bend, Hay kicked once again and opened up a two second gap by the time they crossed the line.

The nineteen year old was delighted with his run, and although having confessed yesterday that 5000m would be his likely target for the European Junior Championships, could not shake off the enthusiasm with which he described taking the middle distance title as well.

“The fifteen seems to go in an instant, I love running it. It’s relentless, full out from start to finish. You either love it or hate it and I love it,” he said.

“Mick and I have sat down recently to talk about the fifteen and my weaknesses and we decided it was my tactics so now I work on running smart. I’ve made too many mistakes in the past in the 1500, so now I try to stay out of trouble. The aim was not to get involved in the stop-start stuff and just try to maintain a good pace throughout.

“It was great to win, and it was a great race with Charlie – he’s a really good athlete and opponent but luckily I got through at the end.”

With Hay currently topping European rankings for 5000m and top ranked Adam Cotton (John Nuttall) choosing to target the 800m this weekend, it would be downto selectors to decide on places. With seven athletes prior to the weekend having secured the selection time, and the top five finishers in today’s final running inside that 3:48 standard, there is no shortage of potential candidates for the coveted 1500m slots in the European Championships.

Later on, Cotton ensured his turn over the shorter distance had not been in vain when he romped home having led from start to finish in the men’s 800m final. The Birchfield Harrier put in a dominant display to cross the line in 1:49.19 ahead of the fast finishing John Bird and Mitch White (Don Lennon) who came home in 1:50.29 and 1:50.44. Guy Learmonth, who already had the qualifying standard coming into the weekend suffered in the closing stages having tracked Cotton’s early moves and faded to fourth in 1:50.50.

Earlier, in the men’s 400m hurdles final there was a disappointment for Ben Hopkins (Marina Armstrong), the only athlete to have secured a European Qualifying standard prior to the weekend as he was disqualified for a false start. However, Swansea’s Paul Bennett (Judith Gooding) took full advantage of the situation and took both the race victory and a qualifying standard in a superb personal best performance of 53.28.

The Welshman’s victory proved very popular, and his reaction to the race was one of disbelief:

“Words simply cannot describe it, I can’t believe I won,” he said. “I knew it would be between me and Ben Hopkins and sometimes the pressure builds up, but I did my best to concentrate.

“I knew I would have a chance of a good run if I could get hurdles eight, nine and ten right, and I didn’t do hurdle ten very well, but I’ll still got there even without Ben in the race.

“I had told my coach that I prefer having someone to race against or chase, but being alone there’s a new motivation as I was out in front and didn’t want anyone going past.”

Over the 110m hurdles, spectators missed out on the spectacle of Andy Pozzi (Paul Bearman) up against Jack Meredith (Don Moss), when Meredith was disqualified for a false start in the final. Pozzi ended up as a clear winner in 13.68, but it was also good news for Meredith’s training partner James Gladman, who ran the best race of his life into a headwind of -0.8 m/s to clock a PB 13.89 for second place – inside the 14 second European Championship standard.

Also demonstrating top class sprint form in taking her second title of the championships was Jodie Williams (Mike McFarlane) who was a comfortable victor in the women’s 200m final with a win in 24.13 – albeit against a -3.4m/s headwind.

Williams, who looked majestic across all her races during the weekend, was pleased with her double title, but less so with her performance:

“I came here to do a job, get qualified and win to secure my place,” she said. “But I’m not happy!

“But then I think I’m comparing everything to last season and how that felt but I know I’m doing well and making progress.

“I’ve not even thought about the Europeans you know I don’t even know where I’m ranked!” She admitted, although unsurprisingly is ranked top in Europe over the 100m, and in seventh over 200m.

Also ensuring her passage to Tallinn during the day was Emma Nuttall (Laurier Primeau), who led the women’s high jump top three to the podium with 1.82m – ahead of Isabelle Pooley (George Male) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) in equal second on the European qualification standard of 1.79m.

As for Johnson-Thompson, the multi-eventer’s day proved to be action packed with turns over the 100m hurdles (winning with 13.90) and long jump (winning with a PB 6.44m) in addition to her earlier medal showing in the high jump. Medalling three times over the course of the day, she reflected on her performances:

“I’m really pleased with my long jump distance, but not that I only did it in the last round,” she said. “Congratulations to Jazmin (Sawyers) who got in a PB which meant I was pushed all the way. My earlier jumps were of similar length but the first round was a no-jump and the second round I was too far back off the board.

“That’s it for me for competitions between now and Tallinn, I’m just going to go back and get some more training in. I’m glad I got some PBs here this weekend.”

Other qualifiers from Sunday’s action included:

Megan Southwart (Colin Bovell) who won the women’s 400m hurdles final in a PB of 59.49 – also bagging herself a championship qualifying mark, ahead of Abigayle Fitzpatrick (Morris Condon) who had already ran a qualifying standard.

Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) won the men’s 400m final with another qualifying mark – this time a 47.61 to add on to his personal and season’s best mark of 47.44.

David Bolarinwa (John Powell) confirmed his status as number one junior sprinter taking the 200m to match his 100m gold from Saturday’s action. However his 21.27 time was just two hundredths short of the required standard for an individual 200m slot in Estonia.

For full results from the day please visit the England Athletics Results Website