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Euro Champs Latest

Phillips Idowu

 

29 July 2010

For results visit the Sportsresult website

On an evening which began with a huge thunderstorm, the adverse weather conditions didn’t affect the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team as they added two further medals to their increasing tally, gold for Phillips Idowu and bronze for Martyn Bernard.

Idowu (coach: Aston Moore), who has endured the constant build up and focus on Frenchman and World Indoor champion Teddy Tamgho during 2010, gave the new kid on the block a lesson in championship timing with a superbly timed fourth round leap of 17.81m.

Although Tamgho has leaped 17.98m this season, he was yet to face Idowu in a Championship head to head. The reigning world champion Idowu kept his head, when all about him people were losing theirs, and produced yet again the jump of his life in the biggest championship event of the season.

A stunned Tamgho was solid in his series but his best of 17.45m, could not trouble the resilient Idowu and, as it was, lost out on the silver to the experience of Romania’s former Olympic silver medallist Marian Oprea whose fifth round 17.51m edged the better medal..

“I can’t believe it – I’m a champion now – it’s great” smiled Idowu.

“The aim is to keep getting better year after year and improving my personal best. It’s not going to be easy headed towards 2012 to keep improving over the next two years but by then I need to be as close to that 18m mark as I can to win the gold.

“There should be more medals for the British team this week – I didn’t feel the pressure I just focussed and I jump better when I’m like that!”

Earlier in the competition, training partner Nathan Douglas (Aston Moore) exited after three attempts with a best of 16.48m from his second attempt.

The first medal of the evening had come courtesy of a thrilling demonstration of mind over matter.  Martyn Bernard (Dan Pfaff) took GB’s fourth medal of the championship – a bronze- in the men’s high jump final which began during the evening’s worst possible torrential rainstorm.

The Wakefield man – who has come back from surgery last year on his ankle, and relocated to London to work with Dan Pfaff at the UKA National Performance Centre - occupied himself during the storm by literally dancing and ‘singing in the rain’ alongside the song of the same named played over the stadium tannoy.

Gambling against the typical strategy of the high jump field, Bernard entered the competition a height later than anyone else but in clearing it put himself in the driving seat when only four jumpers went on to clear 2.29m.

With two excruciatingly close failures at 2.31, his third failure saw him exit the competition to great applause from the stadium crowd who remembered his earlier entertainment, before watching Russian Alexander Shustov beat compatriot Ivan Ukhov for the gold medal with 2.33m to 2.31m.

The moment however, belonged to Bernard, who enjoyed his time reviewing his evening soon after:

“It's really great to come back from injury with a medal. I missed Berlin last year after an ankle operation so I had to sit that out,” he recalled.

“The ankle looks like a pin cushion with all the acupuncture I've had over the last year so it's great to be back. I want to build on this now for next year - Europe is a really hard event in the high jump so this is good for me.

And his comments on his song and dance routine?

“It rained, I had an umbrella... what else am I supposed to do? It was fun and it got the crowd onside!”

Fellow finalist Tom Parsons (Fuzz Ahmed) however was gutted to exit the final of the competition on the ultra challenging opening height of 2.19m – the highest entry height of his high jump career so far, in what must have been the worst ever conditions:

“I was too cautious on my first two jumps, then added a bit more speed on the last one but by then it was too late,” he admitted

“I could feel the water in my spikes, but I can't use it as an excuse because everyone else is managing. I haven't done enough jumping in the rain.”

There were some great moments during the evening for Brits making progress towards finals, with some intriguing head to heads expected from some impressive semi final runs.

In the men’s 400m hurdles, training partners Dai Greene (Malcolm Arnold) and Rhys Williams (Malcolm Arnold) set up a mouth-watering prospect for Saturday night’s final with two ultra impressive performances that won their respective semi finals.

World finalist Greene was his usual clinical and technically excellent self in winning the first semi in 49.48, before Williams ran a clever race to storm down the home straight, having plenty in reserve and looking equally dominant, crossing the line first in 49.61.

Greene commented after: “It was pretty horrendous conditions out there to be honest.

“At the warm up track with 45 mins to go it was absolutely lashing down, I thought the race was going to be postponed to tell the truth but in the end it was fine, it dried up a bit.”

 

Williams was more outwardly jubilant at his progress:

“I'm in the final so now I'm in contention to do the business. I have given myself every opportunity and I'm pleased with the run. My confidence is sky high!

“When I came here it was hammering with rain which meant a different preparation for the race but I'm through, that's the main thing. I should be used to the rain! First I was saying it was too hot and now it's raining, I'm a true Brit!”

 

Youngster Nathan Woodward (Nick Dakin) however exited the competition in the first semi finishing in fourth place with a time that was just eclipsed by athletes in the second semi final for fastest loser places

Martyn Bernard

In the men’s 200m semi finals both Marlon Devonish (Tony Lester) and Christian Malcolm (Dan Pfaff) looked strong in making Friday night’s final finishing second in each of their heats.

First up was Devonish, who ran a superb bend to be in close contention throughout and maintain the pressure on race winner Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, his 20.55 for second a season’s best and proof of his improvement with each and every race.

“I felt really flat in the first heat - I don't like early starts,” Devonish admitted.

“But tonight I feel lot more nimble and light could have really gone for it and pushed but I thought save it for the final.”

 

In the next race Malcolm and fellow GB 200m representative Jeffrey Lawal Balogun (Clarence Callender) sandwiched the 100m champion Frenchman Christian Lemaitre between them as they lined up in lanes five and seven.

With Lemaitre making a conservative start and lagging behind through the bend, it looked for a moment like Malcolm may stride to the win, but Lemaitre powered through taking the line first in 20.39, with the Cardiff man second in 20.58. Sadly, Lawal Balogun faded after a stunning opening 100m and came home in eighth position with 20.85.

Malcolm was delighted to have made it, but played down his expectations for tomorrow’s final:

“I'm glad I'm in the final and I know anything can happen. Hopefully I'll be amongst the medals.

“I'm not thinking about him (Lemaitre) - I know how he runs, I've seen him on the circuit! And tomorrow's another day!”

 

Lawal Balogun however was pensive with his post-race analysis:

“I think it's an occasion where I've got a lot of learning to do,” was his disappointed reflection.

“Racing is the key to having an education, you need to learn the sport and that's exactly what I am doing.”

However – unable to match the sprint success of the evening was Harrow’s Laura Turner (Linford Christie) who had a tough semi final where she struggled to make an impact on the top places.

Turner, who recorded a personal best of 11.11 earlier this month, crossed the line in fourth with 11.41 – a huge disappointment for the determined sprinter who has made great progress this season.

It was better news however for Michael Rimmer (Norman Poole) who looked to be the class act in the mens’ 800m semi finals, easily qualifying for Saturday night’s final with a first place finish of 1:47.67 in his race – the second of the two semis.

“It was a bit all over the place but I got through and that's the good thing,” he said

“I'm in the best shape of my life so hopefully I will recover now and get ready for the final. I'm looking forward to it a lot, a real lot!”

Earlier in the evening’s worst weather conditions, the 10,000m gold and silver medallists Mo Farah (Ricky Simms) and Chris Thompson (John Nuttall/Mark Rowland) qualified with ease from the 5000m heats, with Thompson finishing a solid fourth in the first heat in 13:35.58, and Farah looking in exciting form in the second heat, winning in 13:38.26. Both athletes now looking forward to a rest ahead of Saturday night’s final.

Friday morning’s action commences at 11am local time with World Champion Jessica Ennis beginning her bid for the European Championship heptathlon gold.