28th June 2012


28 June 2012

At the end of day two at the 21st European Athletics Championship in Helsinki, six Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland athletes have progressed to finals.

Rhys Williams (coach: Dan Pfaff), Nathan Woodward (Nick Dakin), Lee McConnell (Rodger Harkins), Richard Buck (Steve Fudge), Lynsey Sharp (David Sunderland) and Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) will now contest for podium finishes.

Performance of the day goes to Julia Bleasdale (Nic Bideau) in the 5000m final, who shaved over 12 seconds off her personal best to record an Olympic A standard.

Below is a summary of the all action in both the morning and evening sessions inside the Olympic Stadium in the Finnish capital.

Day Two Morning Session

Women’s 800m Update

Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) has had to pull out of the 800m in Helsinki. Under the selection policy, she is considered selectable with 7 As from the longer period as well as major international medals from Berlin, Doha, Barcelona and Paris. Below is a statement from Jenny.

"It has been a battle to get back to full fitness after suffering an Achilles tear earlier this year. I have never been fitter, having spent all winter training on the bike or the Alter-G and mentally I was ready to come here and compete for a medal.

"But my injury seems to have reacted badly to the flight and whilst we all genuinely believed I would be ready to get to the start line this setback means I’m so close yet so far. I know I’m selectable based on my previous 7 A standards, but it is no longer in my control."


Women’s 400m Hurdles Semi-Finals

Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin) bowed out of the European Championships in the semi-finals. The Birchfield Harrier finished last in a time of 57.32.

Disappointment was etched on Beesley’s face post-race.

"It was difficult," she explained. "Lane one was always going to be tough, I ran alright but it was a little bit messy. I just haven’t clicked with the hurdles this year.

I’ve no idea why – every race is just like that, I don’t really know what’s going on with it."

Women’s Pole Vault Qualification

Sally Peake’s (Scott Simpson) time in Helsinki is over after failing to vault 4.25m. The Birchfield Harrier had to settle for 10th spot with a height of 4.15m. However, Peake refused to be too downbeat afterwards.

“It was good that it was my first major championship but I would have hoped to have jumped a little bit better, hopefully I can take some things from it, learn from it and come back a  little bit stronger," she said.

“I learned in qualification anything can happen really. There are a few big names who maybe haven’t qualified for the final and so if you can get yourself in the mix there is a good chance for you, but it just didn’t seem to be my day today.”


3000m Women’s Steeplechase Semi-Finals

Despite running a season’s best (9:57.00) it was not enough to clinch a place in the final for Hatti Archer (Bud Baldaro) as she finished 10th.

“I haven’t done the session this season, I’ve had quite a lot of injury problems and I haven’t got any track sessions in – I’m lacking that speed.

“I feel strong but I’m not used to running that pace. Even when I am fit I find the first lap or two take longer for me to get going than other people and I always like to come through the field – both physically and tactically that’s how I race, but when I’m not fully fit it shows up even more.

“I tried to keep up but I couldn’t – the gap was growing only very slowly and I was running the same pace for a few laps but I couldn’t get back to them which was very frustrating.”


Women’s Shot Put Qualification

Eden Francis’ (Glenys Morton) shot put final dreams have been dashed when she only threw a distance of 16.35m thus failing to qualify in 8th spot.


Men’s Triple Jump Qualification

A best of 16.25m from Larry Achike in group A was below the standard set to qualify for the final.


Men’s 400m Hurdles Semi-Finals

Rhys Williams (Dan Pfaff) and Nathan Woodward (Nick Dakin) are through to the European Championships final. Williams, the 2010 silver medallist, won his semi-final in 49.63 – looking extremely comfortable. It was not the same story for Woodward, who progressed courtesy of being the second fastest qualifier (49.68).

Woodward admitted his race had a number of errors.

“I made a few hashes, I stumbled badly on hurdle two and I think that track got the better of me, but it’s the same for everybody so that’s no excuse. It was scrappy.”

Williams has now got his eyes on a medal in tomorrow evening’s final.

“I just want to do my best, there’s no point me being good in the heats and not doing well in the final, that wouldn’t look very good," he said.

"I do not like coming second, every athlete wants to be their best, who wants to be second. I want to be a front runner.”


Men’s Hammer Qualifying

Mark Dry (Derek Evely) brought the morning session to an end on day two and it did not bring any joy to the Aviva GB & NI team. The Woodford Green athlete failed to make it out of the qualifying round with a best effort of 70.27m.


Day Two Afternoon Session

Women’s 400m Semi-Finals

Lee McConnell (Rodger Harkins) looks set to be returning to form at just the right time. A season’s best of 51.98 in the first semi-final earned her a place in Friday’s evening’s final.
The Scottish athlete finished in third spot, but admitted it was tough going in the Olympic Stadium.

“That was a hard one today – it was tough,” she said. “Yesterday felt really good but that was tough – but it was a season’s best by a few tenths so I have to be happy with that.

“It’s fantastic (to be in the final). t’s been 10 years since I won bronze in the Europeans, so it’s nice to be in the final again.”


Women’s 5000m Final

Julia Bleasdale (Nic Bideau) agonisingly missed out  on a European Championships medal when she finished fourth in the 5000m final. The Hillingdon athlete smashed her previous PB by over 12 seconds – 15:12.77. Despite not walking off the track with a medal around her neck, Bleasdale confessed she will draw upon the many positives from the experience. 

“A silver would have been great and a bronze would have been great,” she said. “I came here to be competitive and  really mix it around, give it my best.

“I possibly expended a bit too much energy on the penultimate lap, which might have showed at the finish. It was a great experience though and I know what I can go away and work on and be more competitive the next time round.”

There was disappointment for Helen Clitheroe(John Nuttall)  who finished 16th (15:49.13).

“It wasn’t great. I’d set myself a massive target after stepping back on the track after a nightmare few months. I had plantar fasciitis which is something I have still been managing coming into this. I knew I had a big test on my hands.”


Men’s 800m Semi-Finals

There will be no Aviva GB & NI representation in the men’s 800m final as Gareth Warburton (Darrell Maynard) and Mukhtar Mohammed (Mustafa Mohammed) failed to qualify in their semi-finals, with both athletes short of the Olympic A standard.

Warburton finished 8th in 1:47.37, confessed today was a race too far.

“Yesterday took it out of me, I didn’t have it in the legs and everyone just came past me. I basically was pacemaker for everyone else, but I had to go for it, I needed the A standard again. I need to wait now to see what happens.”


Men’s 400m Semi-Finals

Richard Buck (Steve Fudge) was delighted to seal his spot in the final after finishing second  (46.13) in the third semi-final but admitted a win would have been nice.

“It’s a major final so I am happy to be there, looking at the time I feel like I should have had it in me to win that semi, but I’m at least in the final now so I need to go and recover and see what I can do tomorrow.

“I’m not focussing so much on the time, I just wanted to do what I can at a championships. So I need to recover now and see how tomorrow goes.”


Women’s 800m Semi-Finals

Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) and Lynsey Sharp (David Sunderland) have qualified for the final. With Olympic places up for grabs, the duo demonstrated their credentials with professional performances to ensure their passage to the showdown tomorrow evening.

Although both times were outside of the A standard (Sharp: 2:01.88 and Simpson 2:01.64), the duo are relishing the final.

“I knew the heats wouldn’t  be that fast and I didn’t want to risk taking it on and them all coming back at me,” said Sharp. “I wanted to make the final to give myself a chance of a really fast time and it’s going to be really good.”

Simpson added: “I just feel like every race I’m a lot stronger. It’s just about getting my strength back – it’s only my third proper race this season so I am gradually getting back, and that was probably the strongest I have felt especially down the home straight. It should be a good race. I just hope to get my legs back, after competing at the trials and I’ll see how it goes.”


Men’s 100m Final

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Michael Khmel) was left ruing his injury misfortune after finishing fourth in the 100m final in 10.31.

A hamstring problem curtailed the Sutton athlete’s rhythm and as a result was unable to make his mark.

“Halfway through as I came out the drive phase, I was in contention and I felt my hamstring go,” he said.

“I don’t know how bad it is. I don’t think it’s too bad, but if you watch it from about 40 onwards you can see me limping.

"I’m a bit disappointed but this is the life of a sprinter. I have had the most unlucky of years this year, it had to be this year – seven years of wanting that dream, that goal and it has come down to injuries and timing really, but fourth place at Euros is not bad."


Men’s Decathlon Day 2

Ashley Bryant (Ian Grant) was delighted with his performance of 12th on his senior international debut. The Londoner earmarked the high jump as the highlight of his competition. 

"I’m happy to get through and to finish 12th in my first championship," he said.

"It’s not the score I want but I’m happy with it. I put a lot of work into my high jump yesterday and that is probably my highlight of the competition. It was good to throw a good javelin again so overall not too bad.


How to Follow

The Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team are present for the five day track and field extravaganza. The squad flew out to Scandinavia on Monday and you can follow the action in various ways:

Live on the European Athletics website

BBC Red Button & Online – Friday 29 (16:00-20:35) and Saturday 30 (17:00-20:35); BBC Two & Online: Sunday 1 July (14:00-18:00)

Daily reports will be available here on the UKA website along with Twitter updates @UK_athletics

Ones to Watch

Robbie Grabarz – High Jump
Lawrence Okoye – Discus
Abi Oyepitan – 200m
Rhys Williams, Nathan Woodward – 400m hurdles
Aikines-Aryeetey, Dwain Chambers, Tyrone Edgar, James Ellington, Christian Malcolm, Danny Talbot – 4x100m

Aviva GB & NI squad