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personal best and silver medal for judd in barcelona

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World Junior Champs 2012

07 July 2012

One medal a day keeps the doctor away, the saying could go. Surely, if you are a member of the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team at the IAAF World Junior Championships, this held true today as Jessica Judd (coach: Jeremy Freeman) set a new 800m Personal Best en route to a silver medal.

The Chelmsford athlete, who last year won bronze at the World Youth Championships in Lille, went ever so close to snatch victory from the USA’s Ajee Wilson, but in the end the slenderest of leads, 0.05, separated the two as the British athlete crossed the line with a time of 2:00.96, her first time below the 2:01 barrier.

The race started with a very strong pace, and a still compact pack reached the 400m mark in 58.29s. The deadlock only broke around the 600m point, when Judd and Wilson kicked away from the rest of the opponents. Emily Dudgeon (Stuart Hogg), who had kept contact with the leaders up to that point, was unable to hang on and, despite a brave performance, paid the price of her excellent runs in the first two rounds. The finishing time for the Scot was 2:04.68, valid for sixth position.

“I am really emotional, I didn’t expect to get a silver” said Judd after posing for pictures with rival Wilson, “I gave it absolutely all I had tonight, and with one hundred meters to go I thought I was going to win the gold. I just didn’t quite have the reaction, but I am still so happy.”

“To win a medal like I did takes a lot of guts; I got boxed quite badly the first time on the home straight, I got spiked, but I stepped in and kicked in the last 200 – unfortunately, I couldn’t keep it going until the end.”

“I really have to thank my coach Jeremy Freeman, without him I couldn’t have done this, and John Bigg whose advice was so important. And my dad too – he watched me start from the age of 10, and to get to see me win a silver medal at the World Juniors repays him of all he has done.”

“[To lose the gold] In Lille was soul-destroying: to lead all race and see the girls pass you is much harder to come back from. Tonight Ajee was always there, she didn’t just zip past, she just had an extra kick I didn’t have.”

“I am only 17 – the plan is to go to the World Juniors in two years, in America, and win the gold there.”

On the field, Nick Percy (John Hillier) achieved a top 8 position – and the right to three more trials – with his third throw of the discus, which went to 57.59m. The Shaftesbury Barnet athlete, who had thrown in the 56s and 54s before, was however unable to improve on his distance and finished in eight position, a remarkable achievement considering the top 6 all threw above 60m, a distance that didn’t even figure in the Scot’s pre-season plans but will surely be his aim for the remainder of 2012.

James Gladman (James Hillier) ran a similar race to his semi-final – and the time reflected that, stopping on the same 13.37s mark recorded yesterday. Unfortunately, the strong recovery run displayed by Gladman after a slow start was not enough to halt the imperious run towards gold by World number 1 Yordan O’Farrill of Cuba, who set a new leading time with 13.18s. An Australian National Record propelled Nicholas Gough to second (13.27s), with France’s Wilhem Belocian third in 13.29s.

Gladman, who entered the Championships with the second leading time in the world with 13.30s, was left with fourth place, but at least the consolation of being beaten by three athletes that delivered exceptional performances on the night.

Steeplechaser Pippa Woolven (Janet Nash) suffered the novel experience of running two 3000m races within three day as she finished ninth in a final won by Kenya’s Daisy Jepkemei in a new World Leading Performance of 9:47.22. The Wycombe athlete clocked a time of 10:27.95.

“I am really disappointed, it was very tough and I just didn’t have the fitness” was Woolven’s first, perhaps harsh, reflection on her race; “but to have come this far, in a season when I didn’t even expect to make the World Junior Championships to start with, is still a big positive to take away.”

“It is the first time I run in heats and final and that, together with the heat, probably caught me out a little, but I learnt a lot from this experience and this will make me a better athlete for the future.”

There was also plenty of non-final action involving British athletes. The 200m semi-finals saw three out of four British athletes involved go through to tomorrow’s finals. Desiree Henry (Mike McFarlane) and Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) booked their place in tomorrow’s showdown courtesy of two good runs in a fast field, prompting hopes that two of the youngest girls in the field might pop a surprise to their older counterparts.

“It was a recovery run after coming third in my heat, but all the support I had gave me so much confidence to do well” said Henry. “I am feeling well for tomorrow and I know that anything can happen in a final. In a Championship it is all about delivering on the day, and I think I proved I deserve to be in the tomorrow’s race.”

Henry, who won the 200m in last year’s World Youth Championships, is feeling confident of being able to deliver the goods come tomorrow. “I am a big Championships performer, a lot of athletes cannot cope under pressure but so far I have been doing alright. I love running, I really enjoy it and my mindset before a race shows that: I have fun when I run and it translates into better times, better executions and better results.”

Asher-Smith finished third with a consistent race that resulted in a time equaling her PB of 23.57. The time did not guarantee her automatic qualification to the final, but the Blackheath & Bromley athlete found relief in clinching a spot in tomorrow’s showdown with the seventh best time overall.

“I wasn’t so strong towards the end but I think that was enough to get me a place in the final” the youngest athlete in the field, at 16, said before finding out her rivals’ times. “I am 16, and that means there is potentially one more chance to be at the World Junior Championships, but to qualify this time would be amazing.”

In the men’s semi-finals, reigning European Under 20 Champion David Bolarinwa (John Powell) beat both rival Tyreek Hill (USA) and a slight headwind to win his race in a time of 20.85s – the second fastest in the whole field. Josh Street (Matthew Thomas) had to face much worse conditions, with a headwind setting the gauge at -2.8m/s, and finished in 21.36s – sadly, in sixth and outside of the positions that would have qualified him to the final.

“The race felt good, I felt I could have easily run a little bit harder” said Bolarinwa. “The start I did was ok and then I just had to make sure I made it to the final.”

“I think I can win tomorrow. I definitely can get a medal, and so long as I get one I will be happy about my performance. This is a stepping stone towards bigger things, senior Championships and competitions.”

The heptathlon continued with the shot put and the 200m. Katy Marchant (Antonio Minichiello) and Emma Buckett (Bill Jewers) acquitted themselves well with 11.15m and 11.54m performances respectively in the first event, before Buckett set a new PB in the 200m with 25.91s. Marchant finished the same race in 26.78s.

After four of the seven events in programme, the British athletes stand in 16th (Buckett, 3231 pts) and 21st (Marchant, 3063 pts).

The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team returns tomorrow to try and keep the medals number growing for the fourth day in a row. Shadine Duquemin (John Hillier) makes her World Junior Championships debut at 9am in the discus throw, before Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) takes on the heats of the 100m hurdles at 10:05. Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon) opens his 3000m steeplechase at 11am, Jennifer Walsh (Deborah Rowlands) joins Jessica Judd in the 1500m at 11:40 and Sean Molloy (Mark Hookway) and Ben Waterman (Steve Mann) run the first round of the 800m at 12.20. The heptathlon returns with Emma Buckett and Katy Marchant at 10:30 with the long jump, and the morning session is closed by hammer duo Michael Painter (John Painter) and Nick Miller (John Baumann) at 13:45.

Buckett and Marchant close their campaign with a 800m run at 20:50, towards the end of an evening session also featuring their javelin event and the debut of the 4x100m relays (women: 18:35; men: 19:05). There are plenty of finals, however, to keep our athletes entertained: Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) compete for the gold in the long jump at 19:55, while Desiree Henry and Dina Asher-Smith go for the 200m honours at 20:15. The final event of the day is the 200m men’s final where David Bolarinwa will try to add the World crown to his European one.