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Hurdlers Progress in Serbia

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Lawrence Clarke keeps cool at Euro Juniors
Mad dogs and Englishmen - Clarke keeps cool before his heat this morning


24 July 2009

In a scorching morning at the Karadjordje Stadium, the Aviva GB and NI team were back in qualifying action, spurred on by their first medal on Thursday evening courtesy of Simon Lawson in the 10,000m

Decathletes David Guest (Bridgend); Daniel Gardiner (Leeds City) and Ashley Bryant (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) started their morning with the 110m hurdles.

Gardiner clattered hurdles along the way to second in his heat and finished in 14.61 for 897 points. Bryant, following in the next heat scampered his way to a personal best of 14.96, just hitting one hurdle and taking 854 points. Finally Guest was fifth in his heat with 14.91 and 846 points.

Going into the discus, Gardiner was in third with 4967, Guest in ninth with 4787 and Bryant up to 19th with 4425 points.

Gardiner was best of the trio with 41.77m to take 701 points. Bryant, clearly starting to find the zip he felt he had lacked yesterday took his second personal best of the morning with 39.72m whilst Guest struggled with two no throws and a best of 36.72m for 598 points.

It meant that after seven events Gardiner was in second, just two points shy of Belgium’s Thomas Van Der Plaet holding first place. Guest had slipped to 12th position with 5385 and Bryant remained in 19th with 5084 points.

The next event in the decathlon is the pole vault scheduled for 12.45, an update will appear on www.uka.org.uk

Elsewhere, Brit sprint hurdlers Ben Reynolds (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow); Lawrence Clarke (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow); and Jack Meredith (Liverpool Harriers) all qualified for the afternoon’s semi finals.

Up first was Reynolds, and running from lane eight got a superb start but mid-race clattered a hurdle and struggled to keep his rhythm thereon. Dipping through in a tight third position he was left waiting to see if he would make the semi final stage with his 13.90 (-0.4m/s), just 100th off the automatic qualifying spot.

“I’ve never hit a hurdle so hard in my life, to be third by one-hundredth is so hard. The guy who dipped me was in lane one and I was in eight so it’s tough,” he said.

Next, Clarke put on a superb show with a dominant performance in his heat winning comfortably in 13.60 (-1.3m/s) but immediately after he was disappointed:

“I’m happy with the time but I know I can go quicker, a lot quicker in fact I never really got into it,” he then paused seeing the wind reading announced on the stadium screen.

“Oh, now I’m happy – you can scrap just what I said – that’s not so bad. I want the british record (13.44) this week, that’s what I want to do and I’m looking forward to the semi.”

Finally World Youth Silver medallist Meredith made his European Junior bow with a solid second place in his heat in 13.73 (+1.1m/s). Pleased with his first run he reviewed his performance:

“It was smooth but I made a few mistakes so I know what I have to fix for the semi,” he said.

“The heat has been doing me in here but I know now what to expect for this afternoon and how to sort it out in the semi final now.”

Jo Moultrie (Victoria Park, City of Glasgow) and Stacey Smith (Gateshead) had differing experiences in the heats of the women’s 1500m. Moultrie ran a safe considered race to finish fifth in her heat with 4:23.03 and looked forward to making the final after making it through as a fastest loser.

“There was lots of pushing there,” she said. “But I wanted to finish strongly and try pick off as many as I could - I thought fifth would give me a good chance of the fastest loser place to go through. 

“It’s quite hard because there are no lap times (on account of the stadium clocks not working) – it makes it hard to judge lap times especially in the heat. At least now I know what to expect in the final.” 

Smith suffered badly in a fast heat - becoming detached at the bell in seventh position. It was clear she was suffering as she dropped off the pace and with 150m to go, dropped out from the race with heat exhaustion.

Receiving instant attention from the GB&NI team medical staff, Smith was stretchered from the track but thankfully under the supervision of the team doctor was soon up and about and reflecting on her hard championship debut. 

Next up on the track were the men’s 800m heats. Niall Brooks (Sale) finished first in his heat with 1:51.59, looking remarkably cool considering the blistering heat taking its toll on competitors.

“I felt really good, I had a good warm up, kept in the shade, kept the drinks coming,” he said. “My plan was to sit in then at 300m get in the mix, but it all went well and it’s good to get the first one out the way.”

Brooks who was also ranked highly for 1500m – his favoured event, was happy to step down to the two lap race for the championship:

“Running for Great Britain is an honour, You can’t really get much better than pulling on the vest so I’m happy to be doing the 800m.”

Robbie Schofield (Newham & Essex) also qualified with ease, crossing the line in relaxed style in third place in his heat clocking 1:51.19. Schofield looked almost as cool as Brooks and was pleased with his run: 

“I could feel the group was bunching up but I ran well and felt strong in the straight,” he said. “My aim was to defend my position well and that’s what I did, I moved out to get a straight line to the finish and was able to hold them off.”


Jack Green (Kent) was the first of the British representatives in the 400m hurdles to run his heat, and managed to battle his way through to the semi final stage despite a last minute panic. Off the pace somewhat into the final 100m, he needed to pull something out the bag and sprinted his way through into second in 52.67.

“I’ve been trying not to kick through the final bend as that’s what’s caused me my problems in recent races,” he explained. “But as a result I nearly didn’t get there. That was too close for comfort, I’m going back to my normal method now.

“That was hard, I’ve smashed my knees and now I’m bleeding, but at least I’m through.”

In the fourth and final heat, Niall Flannery  put on a show of one-lap hurdling that showed the Gateshead athlete to be in top form and eager for championship success. Making no allowances for competition stage he set out as he would any race, only easing off the gas when he knew the job was done:

“I just thought I would go out like normal. Regardless of whether it is a heat, semi or final, I just had to get down to business and not mess around,” he said. 

“At about 120m to go I had a little look round and saw I was ok so eased off a bit, after all you can’t give it all for three rounds and there are some tough races ahead, but I always like to win in the heats as it gives you the best lanes and confidence going ahead. 

“It’s been good as I’ve had a couple of days to acclimatise which has helped, but I’m not relaxing no matter where I was ranked coming into this there are always athletes that pull out big times in championships and I want to make sure I go back with the medal.” 

Finally, in the field, Andrew Sutcliffe (Sale Harriers) qualified for Sunday’s pole vault final with a third time clearance of 4.95m in the morning’s qualifying pool.