16th July 2011

European Under-23 Championships Day Three Morning Session

16 July 2011

UK record holder and European number one Lawrence Okoye (coach: John Hillier) opened his Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland account on the penultimate day of action at the European Under-23 Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic (14-17 July) with a relatively straightforward qualification in the men’s discus, but European number two Brett Morse was left disappointed with three no-throws.

Okoye admitted that he encountered some self doubt prior to his red flag in round one, but he soon recovered to record 59.97m, the best throw overall in qualification, to progress automatically.

“I was pleased with my warm up but I think a couple of demons got into my head at the start and my timing was a bit off, but I managed to banish them,” he said. “It’s just about getting one in, it’s not about distance, although I’m quite happy with 59m, that wasn’t bad. I can look forward to tomorrow now.”

The look of devastation on Morse’s face said more than a thousand words could.

There were also impressive performances by newly crowned European Under-23 100m champion James Alaka (coach: Clarence Callender) and Danny Talbot (coach: Dan Cossins) as they qualified automatically for this afternoon’s 200m final in 20.59 (+0.8m/s) – a brilliant new lifetime best – and 20.75 (-0.2m/s) respectively.

The pair offered perfect inspiration for the Aviva GB &  NI 4 x 400m relay quartet of Louis Persent (coach: Stephen Garnham), Thomas Phillips, Harry Doran (coach: Raymond Twentyman) and Jamie Bowie (coach: Piotr Haczek) who made no mistake with victory in the first round in 3:06.77 in their first outing at the Mestsky Stadium.

1500m trio Stacey Smith (coach: Mick Woods), James Shane (coach: Martin Brown) and Dan Clorley (coach: Tony Simmons) were also in action for the first time, but while Smith and Shane progressed, Clorley missed out in a high standard first round.

In the women’s heats, European leader Smith knew she must finish in an automatic qualifying position to make it through to the final after an exceptionally quick first heat in which five athletes – led by European number two Tugba Karakaya in 4:08.63 – ran under 4:10.00.  

“I felt quite comfortable; I was just focused on finishing in the top four,” she said after clocking 4:15.05. “I wasn’t worried and I wasn’t going to bust a gut trying to win it, but it’s good to get out and race at last.”

Shane, in spite of a credible 3:39.11 PB, was ranked only seventh coming into this competition.

In a fast first heat he was in a great position at the bell, but he found himself boxed in down the home straight until at last, a gap appeared on the inside for him to kick through into fourth (3:41.55).

“I felt terrible,” he said, “I just didn’t feel myself. I dropped back a bit on the last bend to try to make some space but it didn’t open up and they kept coming past me. I had a bit of work to do but I managed to find a kick in the last few metres.”

Clorley had started his race boxed in but found his way onto the outside with two laps to go, albeit with a lot of work to do. He moved into fifth at the bell but couldn’t respond as the leaders pulled clear and he finished in tenth (3:47.74).

“I got myself into quite a good position (with one lap to go) but there was pushing and shoving and bodies everywhere. I knew it was going to be hard but even when I found a position I just couldn’t hold it; this is so different to when I ran at the European Juniors two year ago.”

There was also disappointment for Lorrain Ugen (coach: Frank Attoh) in the women’s long jump qualification round and Emily Diamond (coach: Jared Deacon) in the women’s 200m semi final as both athletes failed to progress.

Diamond finished seventh in 23.98 (+0.7m/s) while Ugen failed to record a mark over three attempts.

The European Under-23 Championships will be shown daily on Eurosport – 09.00-10.30 UK time and 18.45-20.00 today – in addition to being streamed live by European Athletics with English language commentary through their website at www.european-athletics.org.

Live streaming will also be available with Czech commentary through: www.sportzive.cz

Daily session reports will be published on the UKA website: www.uka.org.uk