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Strong Start in Barcelona

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Perri Shakes Drayton

 

27 July 2010

In the unsheltered heat of the Spanish morning sunshine, the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team started their European championship campaigns making good progress in the women’s 400m hurdles and the men’s 400m, with all athletes through to their next rounds.

First to fly the team strip featuring the Union flag was Aviva UK Trials winner Perri Shakes-Drayton (Coach: Chris Zah) who ran a well structured race to finish a confident second behind Romania’s Angela Morosanu , Shakes-Drayton’s time of 55.35 a strong opener in the first track race of the championships.

With the top three guaranteed to progress in each race it was job done for the Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets athlete who said: “That was hard. It’s so hot but also so early in the morning!” she gasped soon after, “I hit my knee on a hurdle and the lactic is starting to kick in so I’m off to physio!”

Two heats later and it was time for team mate Eilidh Child (Stuart Hogg) to take her place, and out in lane eight she made no mistakes and went out hard, taking the field through the first few flights of hurdles.

Entering the home straight Bulgaria’s Vania Stambolova took the lead from an inside lane – leaving Child to battle for second spot alongside Russia’s Natalya Ivanova, the Brit taking the second with 55.82.

 “In the warm up area it was pretty cool and shaded but out on the track it was just completely open but it was ok,” concluded the Pitreavie athlete.

“I used to be really bad in the heat, obviously… I’m from Scotland! But the Aviva camp in Portugal has definitely helped me.

“I had to just go out hard - because I was in lane 8 - and didn’t know what was behind me, but it’s fine because now I have the whole day tomorrow to rest and recover.”

Leading the qualifiers into Wednesday night’s semi final was Russian Natalya Antyukh – who dominated the fourth heat in an easy looking 54.29 demonstrating just why she is ranked third in the world in 2010.

 

Michael Bingham

Next up it was the turn of the men’s 400m representatives with Martyn Rooney (Nick Dakin), Conrad Williams (Linford Christie) and Michael Bingham (Ken Harndon) featuring in the first, fourth and fifth heat with the top four in each race guaranteed places in the next round.

Rooney, like Child, was cursed with lane eight, but ran a strong first 300m leading the field into the straight. Belgian one-lapper Kevin Borlee, challenged over the final 50m and just took the line ahead of Rooney who looked easy as he slowed to a conservative 45.82 for second place.

“I ran to 300m and then stopped running,” he revealed. “I did my job, and did what I had to do.

And then reflecting in his comments in Monday’s official team press conference where he declared the track to be his favourite kind of surface: “The track is beautiful, it’s the best track in the world!”

Williams, the third Brit of the morning to take the outside lane, ran a solid race to be in contention in the home straight.  He crossed the line in third position behind Russia’s Vladmir Krasnov and Frenchman Teddy Venel, clocking 46.35 and taking an automatic qualifying slot for Wednesday night’s semi finals and clearly setting his sights on going beyond that stage:

“That was fine, I just had to make sure I qualified and I’m happy with that, because everything is feeing ok. It was a good start for me,” he said.

“My aim is clearly the final, not making that would be a big disappointment.”

Almost as if saving the best for last, Michael Bingham had the strongest qualifying performance of the morning from the GB team, dominating his 400m heat and easing over the line in first place in 45.49, having had the luxury of looking all around for challengers on the home straight.

It was a confident performance from Bingham whose heat featured world finalist Leslie Djhone, but the Frenchman was forced to settle for second behind the determined Brit.

“The last 100m was pretty lacklustre,” he admitted – “I could have run a lot faster and I did what I needed to do.

“Could I have gone under 45? Maybe - but I didn't and I'll see what happens tomorrow in the semi final.”

Tonight’s Aviva GB & NI team interest starts with the men’s high jump qualifying featuring Tom Parsons and Martyn Bernard at 19:10 local time, with Mo Farah and Chris Thompson the first Brits to take part in a final at 21:05 in the men’s 10,000m.

Keep an eye on www.uka.org.uk for the latest updates.