16th August 2016

Nine Progress On Fifth Morning Of Athletics Action In Rio

16 August 2016

On a busy morning of athletics action inside the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Stadium, nine Brits made sure they advanced to the next round.

Cindy Ofili (James Henry) and older sister Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) both progressed with ease from their 100m hurdles heats, finishing first and second respectively.

Ofili was drawn in lane one and she just ran her own race, keeping it clean and tidy to win in 12.75 (+0.9m/s).

“That was the most comfortable race I have had all season – I feel a lot more confident now. The nerves are out and the rust is off, so I’m really excited. The aim is to make the final and then at that point anyone can do anything. I stayed to watch Tiff and she’s through, so that’s good.”

Next up was Porter, and running from the opposite lane to her sister she moved through the field after a slow start to finish second in 12.87 (-0.1).

“It was good. It was all about advancing and qualifying, and I was happy to do that and I’m looking forward to the semi-finals. I’m very happy to have my husband and my sister here. It’s all very special.

Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) led the way in the 200m heats as he, Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge) and Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver) all finished second to advance by right.

Running from lane two, Talbot ran a great bend and looked relaxed down the home straight as he finished second to recent Diamond League winner Alonso Edward of Panama, clocking a new personal best of 20.27.

“I’m very happy with that – I’ve known for a while a PB was coming.

“I missed out on the individual in London but everything happens for a reason and I’m here now and I’m enjoying it! I’ve just got to do the same tomorrow now, relax and enjoy myself. Athletics can be very stressful and it can cause a lot of problems mentally, but I don’t train all year to get to the start line and be nervous, so I want to come here and do my best and just keep enjoying it.”

Adam Gemili followed suit, settling for second place in his heat behind Nickel Ashmeade in 20.20 (0.4).

“I wanted to win the heat but the bends are really tight – but I qualified and that’s all that matters.

“My body is in a great place and I’m excited to start competing with these guys – the semi-final is tomorrow and I want to put myself in the final. Hopefully I’ll get a better lane than lane two for the semi.”

On his role as team captain Gemili added:

“I’m not doing anything differently, I’m just being me – that’s why Neil chose me. I’m just trying to support the team as I normally do and try to bring positive energy to everyone and I think I am doing that. The team’s doing really well and I like to think I have a part to play in that.”

Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver) went in the tenth and final heat, and he was drawn the worst lane of all, lane one. Getting out of the blocks well, the sub 20 man ran a good behind and battled all the way down the home straight to secure second behind Andre De Grasse in 20.24 (1.0).

“Someone had to get it [lane one] and unfortunately it was me! I looked at the lane draw yesterday and I couldn’t see my name. I looked a bit slower and then saw heat 10 and thought ‘someone had to get lane one’. At the end of the day, I am just grateful to make to the next round healthy and I am happy to have another opportunity.

“You have to run hard. It is the top two qualifiers that make it to the semi-finals of the Olympic Games. You can’t take it for granted here because everyone is on their A game. We have got the talent in GB as you see with three semi-finalists.”

 A first time clearance at 4.60m saw Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) punch the air in delight as she booked a place in the pole vault final. Coming in at 4.45m, a height she cleared first time, Bradshaw went on to clear 4.55m at the second time at asking before making light work of the automatic qualifying height.

“That was really good. I had a bit of a shaky warm up but then really got into my rhythm in the competition and started feeling like myself and what I’ve been doing in training. So I was glad that I was able to replicate that and jump really well.

“It has given me a big boost to get another 4.60m. It was an early start this morning and I wasn’t feeling the best and it was hard to get going, but I had so much fun out there. Me, my coach and my husband couldn’t stop smiling all the way through. It’s nice to make it to another Olympic final.”

In the women’s 5000m heats Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) was the only Brit to secure a place in Saturday night’s final.

Running in the second heat alongside fellow Scot Steph Twell (Mick Woods), McColgan was back in ninth place with 1000m to go, but rallied well over the final 400m to grab the fifth and final automatic qualifying spot.

McColgan showed great speed over the last lap, something which she showed when smashing her 1500m personal best with a 4.03 run at the Muller Anniversary Games, to cross the line in 15.18.20.

“I’m over the moon with my run today. There were a couple of times that I thought we were going to go down as there were a lot of people falling and even in the last 300m and then something went wrong with the American so I had to jump out into lane five! With 200m to go I thought it might be over but I just wanted it so badly as it’s been so hard to get here – I’m just over the moon. The aim was to make the final so there’s absolutely no pressure on me now.”

It was disappointment for Steph Twell, who in the same race couldn’t close as quickly finishing eighth, and rather cruelly she was the fastest athlete not to secure a fastest losers spot.

“In the call room I knew what time I had to roughly run seeing the athletes go through the 3km in a time I could cope with. When the group surged at 3k to go, they came forward and I thought that’s perfect I could just sit in the group, but sitting in the group was quite challenging because it was at a steady pace and there were elbows everywhere and heels flying everywhere.

“I tried to keep my balance quite a few times and just about coming up to four laps to go I got clipped and I lost my momentum and dropped a gap of about three places and I think that’s when the break went and I didn’t have it in my legs to finish. I don’t know what happened out there. I know that I’m in the best shape of my life that I’ve been in but everyone can say that but it just really hurts to know that I haven’t got through.”

Laura Whittle went in the previous heat, which saw Japan’s Miyuki Uehara take up the early running and at one point lead by almost 100m. In the end it was Whittle who decided to head the chase, and she got things moving before settling back into the pack.

In the end she couldn’t quite live with the pace as it wound up, finishing 10th in 15.31.30, like Twell just missing out on a fastest losers spot.

“It was tough because obviously the Japanese runner went off quite fast and the rest of the field didn’t seem to want to go with it and I was running really wide.  After a while I thought they say you shouldn’t run wide so I thought ok I’m going to have to go to the front then.

“I thought I will just run at normal pace but then I could hear the others catching up and when they all went I didn’t have the legs. But I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s my first Olympics and I’ve learnt a lot from it. The holding camp in Belo was fantastic – thanks to the lottery for funding that – and I was determined that whatever happened I would enjoy the experience and I really did.”

Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) showed he is over the knee injury that hampered his performance at the Muller Anniversary Games as a classy tactical run saw him through to the 1500m semi-finals.

Moving up on the third lap, O’Hare put himself within striking distance so that coming off the final bend he was in a top five spot and could make sure he protected his positon. Despite a bit of bumping and barging on the final lap, O’Hare was pleased with how it panned out.

“He was running a bit close to me and I was ready to go and I was tripped up a little bit but that gave me a bit of room and once I got a clear run at the finish I knew it was safe. I had another gear to use if I needed it but it was nice to finish within myself. Heats you can get through with 90% but semis require everything. So I am happy to give everything.”

Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) ran a similar race in the slower second semi-final, but he couldn’t quite hold it together down the home straight, fading badly after being bumped. Thankfully after an appeal the Norwegian athlete who shoved Grice was disqualified with the Briton being handed a place in the semi-finals and a second chance.