7th March 2009

Record Time For GB


07 March 2009

Mo Farah (Newham & Essex Beagles) took his first ever gold at a major track championships as he won the 3000m on Saturday at the European Indoors in Turin, Italy.  

Farah set a new championship record of 7:40.17 while teammates Nick McCormick (Morpeth Harriers) finished in sixth and Mark Draper (Bedford & County) in eleventh with 7:52.07 and 8:10.19 respectively.

Elsewhere, Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers) set a brand new European record in the 60m as he qualified from the semi-finals alongside team-mates Simeon Williamson (Highgate Harriers) and Craig Pickering (Marshall Milton Keynes) for Sunday’s final.

In the men’s 3000m, Draper led the race for the first few opening laps, followed closely by Farah and McCormick. Farah then proceeded to take the lead and dominate the race as the pack split with four to go, leaving most, including McCormick, behind.

With only the French Bouabdellah Tahri for company Farah kicked with 400m left and gained an important lead which he retained to the line.

The 2008 European Cross Country silver medallist said: “I worked so hard for this, obviously I had a very disappointing year last year and it’s not very easy dealing with that. I haven’t seen a lot of my friends and family because I’ve been away a lot but it’s definitely paid off.

“My best tactic was to go off hard and it was absolutely awesome to have three people in the final (from team GB&NI) Mark Draper helped me out for the first 1k, that was team tactics, the other Europeans do it so why can’t we do it?

“With 400m to go I put my foot down I just had to keep my focus and keep upright. I just wanted to hear the national anthem. I’ve got a great team around me and the talent has always been there.”

Chambers broke the European 60m record by three hundredths of a second in his semi-final with a blazing run of 6.42. He led from gun to tape and is a big contender for the gold medal in the final on Sunday.

In the same race, teammate Pickering also qualified for the final in third place with 6.63.While in his respective semi, Williamson won his race comfortably in a speedy 6.57, confirming three Brits in the final.

Chambers said: “I still have to remain cool as I’ve still got another round to go and more importantly I just want to come home with the gold medal.  It’s all well and good breaking records but if I come home fifth it’s all been in vain. I was kind of aiming for 6.45 but Christmas has come twice for me.”

In the women’s 400m final Donna Fraser (Croydon Harriers) made a valiant effort from lane two to keep up with a fast paced race set by the Russian Antonina Krivoshapka, who started from lane six and dictated until its close. Fraser faded at the finish, placing sixth in 53.58.

Fraser: “Everyone says why am I doing indoors with these legs but I’m enjoying it. I don’t often say this but that was tough in lane two. It’s a rollercoaster for me I have to speed up on the straights and slow down going into the bends and that messes up your flow.

“But I had no choice in order to stay in my lane on the first lap, that’s what I had to do. But it’s done now, I got to the final and that’s a bonus.”

In the men’s 400m final Richard Buck (City of York) succumbed to a similar fate as his female counterpart. Running from lane two, he moved up to 4th at the bell to give himself a fighting chance, but he paid for his early exertions and faded to fifth place in 46.93, while winner Johan Wissman (Sweden) recorded a world leading time of 45.89.

Buck said: “The only way you can win indoors is to commit yourself in the first lap, so that’s what I did. I didn’t have anything left at the end there. At one point in the second lap I thought I was strong. When I tried to dig down and kick it was difficult and I just couldn’t do what I wanted to.”

Kate Dennison (Sale Harriers Manchester) started her first major pole vault final well with a first jump clearance at 4.20m and then second chance clearance at 4.35m. However she couldn’t get over 4.50m, no jumping three times.

The British record holder said: “I had two good shots at 4.50m, I think a personal best would have been the icing on the cake. In my head I had a target of top five and a personal best would have been top five. I feel a little bit disappointed but I think it’s good to have a little bit of disappointment, it keeps you hungry for the outdoor season.”

In the first heat of the men’s 1500m Neil Speaight (Belgrave Harriers) maintained a place in the middle of the pack and qualified as a fastest loser in sixth place with 3:41.96.

He said: “There was a few anxious moments there but at least it was relatively quick, I stuck to my game plan and knew exactly what I wanted to do. 3:41 is still a relatively quick time and obviously it was a sitting and waiting game there. It was in their hands to put my out and they didn’t.”

Both Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet) and Jenny Meadows (Wigan AC) both qualified for the women’s 800m final which is set to be a high quality race on Sunday.

Medal contender Okoro ran a strong semi-final, changing lead with the eventual winner Oksana Zbrozhek (Russia) for much of the race, finally settling for second place in 2:02.63.

She said: “I woke up this morning and felt great, didn’t do much running yesterday and thought ‘I’m just going to go’ but my coach said ‘you’ve got two Russians in your heat who are going to want to suss out what I can handle.’ I was aware of some tactics there, I just had to think quick on my feet and qualify as comfortably as possible.”

Meadows was pushed hard in the second semi-final but produced the goods when it mattered and kept up with the leaders when the field began to spread. She came home in third, crossing the line in 2:01.73.

She said: “You never know how finals are going to go, I don’t think it will be quick, I could be wrong. The Russians have got good kicks, the Ukrainian has and the Italian has but so have me and Marilyn.

“ There will be six girls in the race and we could run it ten times and get ten different results. I would like to improve on my fifth place from two years ago. It would be lovely for one, or both of us to get on the podium."