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European Under 23 Championships Day 2 AM report

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Johanna Jackson
Johanna Jackson

Friday the 13th – renowned as the worst date in the calendar for the superstitious – began with a personal best for Johanna Jackson (Redcar RWC) on the second morning of the European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.


She rose at 4.30am, breakfasted while her Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team mates slept peacefully and, as the steamy temperatures rose towards 30° Celsius following last night’s thunderstorms, finished a superb seventh in the women’s 20km walk (which started at 8am local time, 7am BST) in 1 hour 36 minutes 28 seconds, a PB by 49 seconds. Not bad on an unlucky day! “I didn’t even realise what date it is, I was up so early this morning,” she said as she recovered from her exertions in a race won by Tatyana Shemyakina (Russia) in a Championships record of 1:28:48. Jackson, coached by mother Maureen, negotiated the 2km laps of the Debrecen sports park and zoo in 9:52, 9:36, 9:27, 9:26, 9:28 (through 10km in 47:49), 9:30, 9:39, 9:43, 9:49 and 9:48. She said of her race: “I set off with some very good walkers and went through 10km in just under 48 minutes, which is my fastest. With 2km to go, I saw two cards [warnings] on the board so I had to slow down a bit [to avoid a third warning, which would have resulted in disqualification]. “My top target time was 1:36:40 but I was forgetting about times really: I just wanted to race.”


As the track action unfolded later in the morning…


Jessica Ennis
Jessica Ennis

Women’s 100m hurdles first round: Only four days after leading the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team to victory at the European Cup Combined Events Super League in Poland, Jessica Ennis (City of Sheffield AC) eased back into action by clocking the second-fastest time of the heats, 13.06 seconds. “I felt a bit rubbish in warm-up,” she said. “But as soon as I got on the track and did a blocks start, I was OK.” She was second in her heat to Nevin Yanit (Turkey), who ran a season’s best of 13.03. Ennis added: “I was happy to run that time. One down, two to go hopefully!”


Women’s 3000m steeplechase first round: Former UK senior steeplechase record holder Lizzie Hall (Herts Phoenix) discovered how cruel life can be on Friday the 13th. 13 months after being put out of action by a stress fracture in her right foot, she finished 13th qualifier and thus missed a place in the final by just one position. Hall, who resumed training six months ago, said: “I have come so far on the recovery road and I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think I could do it. But I had nothing left. I’m sure I’m in better shape than that.” She was sixth in her heat in 10:24.34. The fastest qualifier for the final was Elodie Mouthon in a French Under 23 record of 9:55.19. Hall’s PB is 9:48.51.


Men’s pole vault qualifying: Steve Lewis (Newham and Essex Beagles) qualified for the final, Paul Walker (Sale Harriers Manchester) missed out – and Joe Ive (Belgrave Harriers) suffered a hairline fracture of the right patella.

Lewis finished equal first in his pool with first-time clearances at 5.15m and 5.25m and said: “The only aim was to do as few jumps as possible so I’m really happy. I used soft poles and was a bit worried, but I’m a bit more relaxed now. I’ve moved down to the shorter poles that I jumped my PB [5.60m] with. So I’m hoping for a big jump in the final.”

Walker cleared 4.95m at the first attempt, 5.15m at the second attempt but missed at 5.25m. Having arrived in Debrecen with a PB of 5.31m, Walker was at a loss to explain his morning. He said: "I was in good shape. Warm-up went well. In the competition, things went not as well as in the warm-up. Every time I've jumped a PB, it's been in a good quality meeting or championship but it just didn't seem to come together today. Good luck to Steve. And Joe's come out of it a bit worse than me."

Ive, named only last week the UK Challenge Athlete of the Month of June, suffered his knee injury on his second attempt at 5.15m. After receiving treatment beside the track, he had one brave effort at 5.25m but found it impossible. He said after he returned from a local hospital on crutches: "I took off too close, my top hand slipped and it just shot me into everything. As for the third attempt, I thought, 'Why not?' But there was too much pain running through my legs. I couldn't run-up properly. These things happen. I'll be all right!"


Men’s 3000m steeplechase: Luke Gunn (Derby AC) took the most economic route he could to the final by finishing sixth in his heat in 8:37.60, feeling confident it would be good enough to get him through as a fastest loser. He was right: it was quicker than the time of the other heat winner. He has had five weeks off racing since ending his USA collegiate season, explaining: “I don’t want to burn-out before the end of our season.”