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european championships day three

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Robbie Grabarz Helsinki 2012

29 June 2012

The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team emerged with two gold medals and one silver on day three of the European Championships.

Robbie Grabarz (coach: Fuzz Ahmed) became Britain’s first male high jump champion at European level since Alan Paterson in 1950.

Rhys Williams completed his set of European 400m hurdles medals with gold. While Lynsey Sharp (David Sunderland) produced a stunning performance to win silver in the women’s 800m but agonisingly missed out on the Olympic A time.

Below is a summary of the all action in both the morning and evening sessions inside the Olympic Stadium in the Finnish capital.


Day Three Morning Session

Men’s Discus Qualification

Despite the glorious sunshine, Abdul Buhari (Mark Wiseman) and Brett Morse (Vestienn Haffsteinsson) could not provide any rays of light for the Aviva GB & NI team this morning. The duo failed to make it out for group A into the final, both falling short of 60m.

Buhari’s 58.57m was something of a disappointment.

“It was a poor performance by myself, no excuse I should have performed much better.” he said.

Morse was at a loss to explain his best of 58.71m: “It was strange because I actually threw really well. The first round I completely missed it – it tore off my hand, the second round it went 63m but I smacked it out of the sector which is quite strange for me, I never do that.

“That would have probably made the final. In the third round I just pulled away a little on the left side. My technique up to a point was very good, but maybe I was a little eager to throw far.”

However, there was one sun beam in group B: Lawrence Okoye (John Hillier). 64.86m sealed a place in tomorrow’s final. The British record holder is relishing competing against the world’s best.

“Luckily the sun is shining – it is a good day to throw and it’s a nice circle,” he said. “The best guys in the world are here so luckily I just got the job done, which is what qualifying is all about and I can look forward to tomorrow’s final and pull out some big throws.

“It’ll be fun competing with the world champion tomorrow and hopefully I will do something good.”


Women’s Hammer Qualification

Sarah Holt (Robert Weir) bowed out of the hammer competition at the first hurdle on Friday morning. 61.18m was not enough to make an impression to qualify for the final.

“It was just one of those days where it didn’t happen,” she reflected.  “Obviously I’m really happy to be here, and it’s a great stepping stone for me and over the season as a whole I’ve improved by two metres which is the most I’ve improved by for a couple of years now so in terms of distance progression this year I am happy with that.”

There was joy for Sophie Hitchon (Derek Evely) as she progressed into the final with a throw of 67.08m in group B. The British record holder pulled it out of the bag on her last throw. Hitchon has vowed to perform better in Sunday's final.

"The last throw actually hit the cage, so I was shocked it was that far," she said. "I thought that was it to be honest, my warm-ups weren’t great and I don’t really know what happened, but it’ll be better on Sunday."


Men’s 200m Heats

Danny Talbot (Daniel Cossins) and Chris Clarke (Nick Dakin) ran impressive heats to progress to this evening’s semi-finals.

Talbot won his heat in 20.82, with Clarke finishing second 20.83.

"I was hoping for a bit faster but there was a bit of wind out there," said Talbot. "Hopefully that will die down for later on. I’m pleased though I got through the heat – it’s all good."

Women's 200m Heats

Abi Oyepitan (Tony Lester) continued her impressive 2012 summer season form to blitz into the semi-finals. A comprehensive victory in the final heat (23.05) comfortably secured her place and another current Olympic A standard.

"Yes the A standard, that’s what I wanted to get," she said. "That’s what my coach Tony (Lester) told me to do - just get the A standard so it is out of the way."


Men's Long Jump Qualification  

A season’s best of 8.01m for JJ Jegede (Peter Stanley) was enough for him to progress into the men’s long jump final. Elsewhere there was no such luck for 2010 European bronze medallist Chris Tomlinson (Frank Attoh), who is suffering from a loss of form this summer season and could only manage 7.84m – thus failing to qualify. Julian Reid at (Chris Harvey) 7.73m also exits the competition.

Jegede is now aiming to achieve the Olympic A standard in Sunday’s final.

“I’ve got another chance of getting the A standard, this is just like the invitation to get to the party – I’ve got the invitation now," he enthused. "The real fun and excitement starts at the final, if I get six jumps I’ll get closer to the qualifying distance. I’m looking forward to it.”

While Tomlinson was cursing his bad luck with injuries. “It’s a bit disappointing,” he admitted.

"I just need competitions. With the injury I would have loved to have come back here in two days and got somewhere close to the take off board.

"There’s absolutely no doubt about it, I’ve not hidden from the fact I’ve had an operation. I haven’t hidden the fact that I didn’t get back as quickly as I would have liked."


Day Three Evening Session


Men’s 200m Semi-Finals

The European 200m final beckons for Chris Clarke (Nick Dakin) and Danny Talbot (Daniel Cossins) after both progressed after finishing second in their heats.

Times of 20.90 for Clarke and 20.69 for Talbot were outside the Olympic A standard, but both will have the chance to claim a medal and chase the time on Saturday evening.

"Just coming out I probably relaxed too much as I’ve been told not to get too tense, so I was probably too relaxed and couldn’t stay with them but hopefully if the conditions are still tomorrow then I might get that A standard – but it’s just great to be in a senior final," said Talbot.


Women's Javelin Final 

Goldie Sayers (Dan Pfaff) narrowly missed out on a podium place with a throw of 63.01m. In a field littered with her London 2012 rivals, the Belgrave Harrier, who finished fourth in Beijing was left to rue a medal misfortune again.

"It’s frustrating," she said. "I always miss the medals by a few centimetres and it’s the same today. I really felt my second best throw was further but the wind took it fractionally. I tried to wait for the headwind to calm down, it just didn’t.

"It was a good competition, and I had some good feeling on the run up and that’s probably the best I’ve felt on a runway since Beijing, so I’m pleased with the way it went in terms of feel."


Men's High Jump Final

Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed) became Britain’s first male high jump champion at a European Championships since Alan Paterson in 1950. 2.31m was the winning height although it was a close affair with Raivydas Stanys pushing Grabarz all the way.

With a first major championship title under his belt, Grabarz was understandably delighted.

"I found out a lot today," he said. "I learned a lot about myself and came here to learn, to compete under pressure of expectation and I have achieved my goal of the title I didn’t jump too high but I’m really happy with that result.

"I was really happy in myself and confident in the training we’ve done and the support team I have behind me and that the stuff I’m doing does work."

Samson Oni (Trevor Llewelyn) failed to clear the bar at all.


Women's 200m Semi-Finals

Abi Oyepitan (Tony Lester) failed to qualify for the final after finishing 5th in 23.22. The McCain Power of 10 leader recorded her second current Olympic A standard earlier in the day during the heats, but the semi-final was a race to far.

"I suppose I got the qualifying time – the A standard for the Olympics, that’s as much as I can takeaway," she reflected.

"It was very disappointing. I only did two races at the trials so that wasn’t really a problem – I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and see what’s wrong."


Men's 400m Final  

Richard Buck (Steve Fudge) scrapped for a bronze medal but missed it by a whisker. A tenth of a second denied Buck a podium finish and the York athlete admitted athletics can be a cruel sport.

“A tenth of a second over a quarter of a mile, it’s a cruel sport,” he stated.

“I’m obviously really disappointed not to get a medal when I knew I could have done. It’s been a great experience, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it, but like I said I’m bitterly disappointed with that, because a tenth of a second over 400m is nothing."


Women's 800m Final

Lynsey Sharp (David Sunderland) produced a stunning personal best performance to win silver in the women’s 800m but agonisingly missed out on the Olympic A time (2:00.52)

“I’m totally speechless,” she managed to say.

“I just don’t know what to say. I was running the race to place as high as possible and completely forgot about the time like it was just a race, I’m happy to be here and whatever happens happens.

“Later on I’m going to be frustrated at getting a PB and not an A but I know it’s there - it’s so there.”

Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) finished seventh.


Men's 400m Hurdles Final

Rhys Williams completed his set of European 400m hurdles medals with gold and achieving another Olympic A standard in the process. 49.13, a season’s best, has put the Welsh hurdler is pole position to make Team GB ahead of rival Nathan Woodward (Nick Dakin), who finished seventh.  

“I feel relief, relief more than anything,” said Williams. “It was 2003 when I won European Juniors – I didn’t think it was a going to take nine years to finally win a senior title so I wanted to make the most of this opportunity.

“I always wanted to come into this championship and just treat it like any other – just go there and try to win.”

Woodward said: "Huge congratulations to Rhys. I would have preferred it to be me, but credit where credit’s due he’s had a fantastic week so it’s fully deserved."


Women's 400m Final

Amid Lee McConnell's (Rodger Harkins) disappointment of finishing fifth and outside of the A standard at 52.20, the Scottish athlete was upbeat on her outlook for the summer ahead.

"I knew it was going to be tough tonight having ran two runs Saturday and Sunday, but I’ve enjoyed the championships," she said. "It’s tough to run at a championships and get the time you’re looking for off the back of the Trials.

"I’m running better than I have done and I’m moving in the right direction. Unfortunately maybe just not quick enough for selection for London. But I think come London, I definitely think I’ll be where I really should be now and hitting those times."


How to Follow

The Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team are present for the five day track and field extravaganza. The squad flew out to Scandinavia on Monday and you can follow the action in various ways:

Live on the European Athletics website

BBC Red Button & Online - Saturday 30 June (17:00-20:35); BBC Two & Online: Sunday 1 July (14:00-18:00)

Daily reports will be available here on the UKA website along with Twitter updates @UK_athletics

Ones to Watch

Lawrence Okoye – Discus
Aikines-Aryeetey, Dwain Chambers, Tyrone Edgar, James Ellington, Christian Malcolm, Danny Talbot - 4x100m

Aviva GB & NI squad