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busy morning for gb as young stars progress to next rounds

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World Junior Champs 2012

12 July 2012

With the team still buzzing from the excitement of Adam Gemili’s epic 100m victory last night, the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland returned to action in a very busy Thursday morning at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona.

Eleven athletes wearing British colours took to track and field in a day 3 that provided us with the hottest morning of the Championships so far. The heat, however, was no distraction for the long jump duo of Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) and Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) who took two jumps and one jump respectively to go beyond the qualifying mark of 6.30m.

“It’s hot, but I sure like it better than the rain so the conditions don’t affect me too much so long as you stay in the shade when you can” said Johnson-Thompson, whose second jump landed at 6.51m – a new PB for the soon-to-be Olympian. “It was important to get the automatic qualifier early and get this round out of the way.”

World Rankings leader Sawyers took only one attempt to book her place in tomorrow’s final. The young athlete’s first jump measured 6.33m, short of her 6.64m PB but sufficient to be second in her Qualifying Group and to ensure an early departure from the baking heat of the track.

As the two girls finished their job in the field event, two boys ensured another 100% progression rate on the track. Reigning European Under 20 Champion David Bolarinwa (John Powell) had no trouble keeping Teray Smith of the Bahamas at bay to win his heat in a time of 20.78s.

“It was a good race, I felt good and I did my job, which was to get through the round with no trouble” said the Newham & Essex Beagles athlete after his trial. "Now I can concentrate on doing well in the next rounds, it is hot out there so it’s important to save energies.”

Josh Street (Matthew Thomas) ran 21.30s to finish fourth in a fast heat won by Delano Williams of Turks and Caicos. The Caribbean sprinter set a time of 20.66s; and Street, despite the initial disappointment at his finishing position, could draw a breath of relief as he qualified to the next round as one of the fastest non-automatic qualifiers.

The 200m saw a convincing performance by our team’s girls as well, with both Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) and Desiree Henry (Mike McFarlane) easing through to the next round.

“I was blind in lane 9, so I needed to make sure I was in a good position after the bend and make sure I qualified” said Asher-Smith after a blistering start that saw her enter the final 100m miles ahead of her rivals. “It felt really comfortable and I am happy I qualified. Desiree’s in the semis as well and that’s great for the team and looking ahead to the relays.”

For Henry, whose early season was dogged by injury, qualification is a relief, albeit she was always confident in her abilities. “I ended on such a high last year, winning the World Youth Championships, and being at the World Juniors was always the plan. The season didn’t start too well but now I am here and I am feeling good.”

The 2011 World Youth Champion clocked a time of 23.78s, a new season best, after a rocket start and a more controlled final 100m. “I could have pushed more on the home straight but I know I have much more in me, and I am thankful I have been given the opportunity to be in this semi-final. I am happy with my performance.”

“I want to say that the injury I had is 100% behind me, mentally and physically. I have locked it out of my mind, but I still have to do all my physio work.”

The brilliant performances of these athletes went a great length to improve a morning that had started in a shaky fashion. Matti Mortimore (Esa Utriainen) and Katie Byres (Julien Raffalli-Ebezant) were early victims of some punishing qualification rounds.

Ipswich javelin thrower Mortimer, coming in the competition with a PB of 70.60m, could only muster 63.24m on his second throw, finishing 19th in his group and bowing out of a contest led so far by Australia’s Luke Cann (74.54). Byres went into the competition strong of a 4.52m personal best but was caught out and, entering the event at a height of 4.05, failed to record a valid jump to progress to the automatic qualifying mark of 4.10.

The morning saw also the start of the heptathlon campaign by Emma Buckett (Bill Jewers) and Katy Marchant (Antonio Minichiello). The two British athletes were separated by only 0.03s in the first event of the day, the 100m hurdles: Marchant set the 12th best time of the field in 14.15, a new PB, while Buckett was 13th with 14.18.

The pair then went on to the high jump, with Buckett leaping 1.69m and Marchant 1.63m. These results place them in 14th and 18th in the standings so far; Emma Buckett is currently on 1795 points and Katy Marchant on 1728.

The final event in the morning session – well into the afternoon, with a start time at 2:35pm – was qualification for the women’s hammer.  Abbi Carter (Dave Smith) opened in style with a throw of 60.75m – a new personal best for the Kingston upon Hull athlete and her best effort in the three trials. The qualifying distance of 62m remained elusive for all but group leader Alexandra Tavernier of France, who threw 66.22m, but Carter’s distance was enough to qualify her to the final with the seventh best performance of the whole field.

“I did not expect a PB, surely not on the first throw” said Carter. “The circle feels good, and I hope this form carries on to the final.”

The afternoon session sees the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team on the hunt for more medals as Pippa Woolven (Janet Nash) goes for glory in the final of the 3000m Steeplechase (19:30), Nick Percy competes in the discus throw final (19:55) and James Gladman tries to reassert himself as the world’s best in the 110m hurdles (20:20). The spotlight will then go on the final of the women’s 800m, where Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman) and Emily Dudgeon (Stuart Hogg) enter the race with the two best times of the semi-finals. The gun goes at 21:15.

Desiree Henry and Dina Asher-Smith return for the semi-finals of the women’s 200m (18:30), while their counterparts in the men’s race, Josh Street and David Bolarinwa, take to the track at 19:00.