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Five athletes progress from afternoon session

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Sarah Claxton In Turin
Claxton: equalled national record in semi-final


06 March 2009

The first day of competition at the European Indoors in Turin, Italy saw five more athletes safely through to their respective next round of competition.

Jenny Meadows (Wigan AC) started her European Indoor campaign with a win in the first round of the women’s 800m. She looked strong throughout, leading the pack from gun to tape, and finished in 2:03.11.

British 800m rival Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) took second place in the second round of the 800m with her run of 2:05.01. She led the race until the final moments but let Ukrainian Tetyana Petlyuk take the top spot, assured of her automatic progression.

Okoro said: “I’m in great shape; I just wanted to make that as easy as possible. Three rounds suits me best, that’s what I’ve been training for all winter. I really feel like I’m making 800m my event now. I take a lot of confidence from my training and support from UKA, my coach and my family. Hopefully 2009 can be a good year.”

Samson Oni (Belgrave Harriers) failed to qualify from the first pool of the men’s high jump after a best effort of 2.22m. Martyn Bernard (Wakefield Harriers) matched his teammate in the second pool with three failed attempts also at 2.22m.

Oni said: “For now it’s just going back into training and working towards the outdoors. I’m ready to win medals, it’s just mentally I’m just not there yet. I’ve just got to try and work on that in the future. It was really busy there in the infield but this is championship athletics, you have to get used to it.”

Bernard said: "There was alot going on in the competition, there was pole vault and triple jump so it took quite a while. 2.22m was the one that kind of got me, by then the competition had taken alot out of me.

"I've cleared 2.27 already this season, with indoor athletics you're kind of subjected to alot of things going on around you, it's a bit of a distraction. I've got my own goals and while sometimes things might not go right, I think im the long term I'm looking to go to these championships and jump highly."

In the first round of the women’s 1500m Susan Scott (City of Glasgow Victoria Park) held a firm position towards the middle of the pack in a rough and bumpy race. She lost ground with two laps to go and found herself struggling in the latter stages of the race. Her sixth place finish of 4:13.40 was not enough to take her through to the final.

Scott said: “I wasted so much energy trying to get round people, it felt a lot faster than 4:13 My plan was to relax in the first 800m and get myself in position. I felt I never really got into my running it was really messy. ”

In the second round of qualification in the 1500m senior GB & NI debutant Hannah England (Oxford City AC) also failed to qualify through to the next stage of the competition. She started the race well and maintained a place towards the back of the lead pack but was unable to make up ground on the final lap. Her time of 4:14.75 saw her finish in seventh place.

England said: “I felt good until the last 200m, I found it hard to overtake anyone, I should have ran a better race than I did. I didn’t want to just make up the numbers, I wanted to make the final. At the moment it just feels like a totally wasted opportunity.”

The experienced Donna Fraser (Croydon Harriers) made her second outing of the day, the women’s 400m. She finished in second place in the semi, gaining automatic qualification with her 53.59 effort.

In the first men’s 400m semi-final Richard Buck (City of York) and Nick Leavey (Thames Valley Harriers) ran side by side as they both made a bid for a place in the final. The race was eventful with some pushing on the final bend of the first lap and defending champion David Gillick (Ireland) taking a spill after clashing with Ioan Vieru (Romania) on the final bend.

Buck gained automatic qualification finishing third in 46.76 while Leavey was left just out of contention in fourth with 47.93.

Buck said: “The Romanian was a little out of order on the top bend I think he hit Gillick (Ireland). It looked to me like it was an elbow push, as soon as I saw Gillick coming off his shoulder on the bend I saw the warning signs and thought ‘I’ll stay out of the way.’

“It’s not been a great day really but I’m very happy to have made the final. I eased off in the first round and lost out on a good lane for the semi. It’s all been part of a big learning curve for me and I’m still hoping I can get my head together tonight and come up with some strategy to really contest.”

British Indoor record holder Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers) qualified for the final of the women’s pole vault after jumping consistently through the rounds. She started on 4.05m and reached 4.40m with only two missed jumps on the way.  Her first attempt and subsequent failure at 4.35m was re taken due to a technical fault with the uprights which was protested among the participants.

Dennison said: “It’s been a bit of a long afternoon, I just need to go and recover now but I’m happy it’s my first major final. The bar was set for automatic qualification at 4.45m and that’s the first time (at a major championships) it’s been at a height I’ve jumped.”

Sarah Claxton (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies) finished eighth in the final of the women’s 60 sprint hurdles with a time of 8.21. She ran a blistering 7.96 in the semi-final earlier in the afternoon, equal her own indoor British record previously set in 2005, but couldn’t find the same form for the final.

In the men’s sprint hurdles semi-finals both men progressed to the final of competition from their respective heats at the beginning of the afternoon session. Allan Scott (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) finished second in his heat in 7.74, while Andy Turner (Sale Harriers) grabbed fourth place with a time of 7.68.

In the final Turner narrowly missed out on a place on the podium, he ran well and looked in contention throughout but missed a bronze medal  by one hundredths of a second, emulating his fourth place at the 2007 Championships in Birmingham. He crossed the line in fourth with 7.62. Teammate Scott came through in eighth place in 7.78.

Turner reflected: “It’s a horrible place to finish; I can’t even describe how I feel now, by one hundredths of a second as well. I’m gutted but I ran poorly in the heat and the semi and if there’s one consolation I can take it’s that I ran well in the final. But really it no consolation because I’m going home empty handed.”

Scott said: “I felt in really good shape but the hurdles keep getting in my way! First, second, third fourth, I think I hit them all. Once the first one went then that was it, I hit the second one and that compounded it.

“Obviously I didn’t get what I wanted out of this indoor season after making the final in Birmingham (2007 European Indoors) and Valencia (2008 World Indoors). At the start of this year my aim was to come here and get a medal.”