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Lisa Dobriskey
Olympic fourth placer Dobriskey qualifies in Berlin

18 August 2009

Tuesday morning in the World Championships in Berlin Germany saw a further five Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes get past the opening stages of their events.

Marlon Devonish (Coventry Godiva) took to the track in the men’s 200m heats as GB and NI’s sole representative, after Dwain Chambers (Belgrave) was forced to withdraw from his second event of the championships due to a calf injury.

On a blustery cool morning in the Olympiastadion, Devonish got a conservative start out in lane eight but powered round the final bend entering the straight with a lead that was never bettered.

Crossing the line in 20.92 seconds he progressed to the evening’s quarter-finals with relative comfort.

“That was relatively easy,” Devonish said after. “I feel fit and fine – it was good.”

Next on track were the men’s 400m heats. Rob Tobin (Basingstoke and Mid Hants) opened his world championship account in the first heat in impressive style, winning in 45.50 and automatically reaching Wednesday night’s semi final.

“A good start is what you want in a champs and to then carry it on through the rounds,” he said. “I’m going back to have a massage and relax then get ready for the next stage.”

Michael Bingham (Unattached) followed Tobin into the semi finals, after finishing second in his heat in 45.54, behind Chris Brown (BAH).

Martyn Rooney (Croydon) had a tough draw in the ultra tight inside lane but also qualified for the semi final stage. After receiving the marker for a first false start, he settled in his blocks again before running a conservative opening 200m.

On the home straight however he ran himself back into contention and crossed the line in third in a blanket finish for 45.45. He was however the fastest of the three GB men progressing to the next stage.

“Job done - It was a bit harder than I would have liked but it’s a world championships what do you expect?” he said after.

“I didn’t actually think I’d false started – I thought it was the best reaction of my life!

“I knew where I was coming into it and I was quite happy – I would have liked to have won it but I did what was necessary to advance.”

Charlene Thomas (Wakefield), Steph Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District) and Lisa Dobriskey took part in the 1500m heats with varying degrees of success.

UK trials winner Thomas was unlucky to lose a shoe after a faller in her heat forced her to produce a mid race hurdle, losing her spike as she did. Required to run the remainder of the race minus one piece of footwear, she became detached from the last lap burn-up along the back straight and although she rejoined the pack in time for the home straight, she lacked the legs to find her way through the mass finish, ending up tenth in 4.09.91.

“I think it happened when the American fell, I hurdled her then I think she either pulled down on my heal or it fell off,” recalled Thomas after.

“It was half off and I was running trying to get it back on again for about 250m but I couldn’t so I kicked it off and ran the rest of the race with only one shoe on. It’s just really disappointing but when you’re running with only one shoe on you can’t do anything about it. I was feeling so good, I was relaxed, I wasn’t nervous. I had my race ready to go and I just can’t believe it.”

With top six guaranteed a place in the semis plus a further six qualifiers – it meant Thomas would have a nervous wait.

Dobriskey in the next heat however made sure of her place by finishing third in 4:07.90. The pace of her race however meant Thomas was precariously positioned in the sixth fastest loser spot with one more heat still to run.

“I’m really happy with that, I didn’t think it would be really quick and I knew there were a few girls putting their effort in a little bit too early,” said Dobriskey.  “ I put myself in the position that I had to be in the top four to qualify which kind of gives you that security. I noticed that the girl in front of me had fallen so I just tried to stay on my feet, then I thought ‘Just re-group and forget it’ so I could get my head back into the race.”

With Twell in the final heat, eyes were on the youngster to see if she could progress to the semi final following her appearance in the Beijing Olympic Games where she just missed out on a place in the final.

But for some reason Twell lost ground on the rest of the field and at the bell was detached as the main group sprinted away in a last-lap burn up. Trailing home in twelfth position on a time of 4:18.23, she was desperately disappointed.

“I just didn’t feel right from the start,” she said soon after. “It felt like I was working harder to try and fight for a space rather than working to run my own race and move forwards. I was working to maintain my position.

“The laps went by without me realising because it was such an elbow fight really and then approaching the bell the group just moved away together and I didn’t have the response that I normally do. I’m so bitterly disappointed and I wanted to get so much further in this championship.”

Following the final heat Thomas unluckily fell out of the fastest loser spots, leaving Dobriskey the only Brit to progress from the heats.