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Ennis-Hill and KJT on course for heptathlon medals

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Jessica Ennis-Hill
13 August 2016


With just two events to go in the women’s heptathlon, Jessica Ennis-Hill (coach: Toni Minichiello) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) are on course to win Team GB’s first Olympic athletics medals of Rio 2016.

Leading overnight, Ennis-Hill produced a solid long jump performance to leave herself just five points behind the current event leader Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium, whilst Johnson-Thompson moved up from fourth to third in the overall standings, just 51 points adrift.

Much has been made of Johnson-Thompson’s three fouls in the long jump in Beijing twelve months ago, but she banished those demons (if she hadn’t already) with a 6.51m jump in the first round, which would prove to be her best. Ennis-Hill meanwhile, jumping in the other pool alongside Thiam, also produced her best jump of 6.34m in the first round, before watching the Belgian produce a personal best of 6.58m with her final attempt.

With just the javelin and 800m left to go this evening, reigning Olympic champion Ennis-Hill and European Indoor pentathlon champion Johnson-Thompson know their 800m is better than the Belgians, but it will be a case of limiting their losses in the javelin.

In the blue ribband event, the men’s 100m, two of the three Brits in action advanced to the semi-finals tomorrow evening.

Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) was first to go in heat one, and he ran a good race to take the second of the two automatic qualifying spots in 10.13 (-1.2m/s), credited with the same time as the winner.

“It’s not a fast track, but at these Olympics it can’t be about times. You’ve just got to run your race and focus on tomorrow and getting into the final, that’s my main aim.”

Running in heat seven of eight, James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) lined up against Usain Bolt, just as he did in London 2012. Despite the slowest reaction time of the whole field, Dasaolu moved through to finish third behind Bolt and Fisher, and secure a fastest loser spot. Of his 10.18 (-0.4) run Dasaolu said:

“Obviously running against Usain Bolt everyone is watching him, but for me I’ve always got to try focus on my own race and try and execute. I didn’t get out of the blocks too well but the second half of my race was strong, so I know there’s definitely more to come if I can get that first half of my race.

“The track feels fine – it’s a track and at the end of the day you’re here just to compete at the Olympics and make it through every round.”

In the heat prior to that James Ellington (Linford Christie) failed to make the kind of impression he would have hoped to, finishing fifth in 10.29 (-0.8), which wasn’t quick enough to advance.

“I’m in really good shape, I just messed the start of the race up. I literally nearly fell flat on my face. The start’s been the weak part of my race all year, it’s been 50/50 and sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t. Today, when I really wanted to get it right, I got it wrong.  So it is something I am going to have to work on consistently for next year, because I can’t afford to keep on falling out of the blocks like that.

“The relay is now the focus - I’ve got to come back and execute because we’ve got big hopes.”

Running from the outside lane in the first round of the women’s 400m, Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) used all her experience to run a perfectly judged race, coming through for second place and automatic qualifying spot for tomorrow’s semi-final. Less than a tenth of a second behind American winner Natasha Hastings, Ohuruogu ran 51.40 and once again looks like she is rounding into top shape at the perfect time.

Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) went in the next heat, and whilst she couldn’t bag one of the top two automatic spots, her 51.76 time in fourth saw her through as a fastest loser.

“I’m chuffed as I woke up at 1am two nights ago with food poisoning.  At one stage I didn’t think I was even going to make it onto the start line, so the fact that I made it on to the start line and even ran sub-52 has made me really happy. I am so pleased I was able to make it to the start line and become an Olympian.”

There was disappointment for Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) though, as running from lane two she never really got into the race, finishing seventh in 53.63 and so does not progress.

“I don’t really know where to start and I don’t really know where I’ve gone wrong. It’s one of those where I need to go back and look at it, but I would have been disappointed to not even run a PB in that race and I’ve run 53 seconds, so I’m really disappointed.”

There was also disappointment for Lennie Waite (Steve Sisson) who was unable to produce the kind of form that saw her selected for the Olympic Games, finishing 17th in her heat of the 3000m steeplechase in 10.14.18.

“It’s not obviously how I pictured the Olympics going three weeks ago – but last week I was questioning as to whether I would even be able to make it around or not. I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt; it’s a hard thing to go in and race some of the best people in the world knowing that you haven’t been able to put your foot on the ground very much. I’ve not been able to put spikes on or hurdle since London as I have a tear in my plantar, so it was a hard thing to overcome mentally.

“It tried to give it my best but on the first lap it was obvious it wasn’t going to be there for me today.”