23rd July 2010

World Juniors Day Five A.m

23 July 2010

It was another successful morning for Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team athletes on day five of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada (19-25 July) with seven from ten progressing through from their heats.

800m duo Niall Brooks (coach: Norman Poole) and Adam Cotton (coach: Geoff James) won automatic qualifying spots in tomorrow’s semi finals (Saturday 24 July at 14.10, 18.10 UK time) finishing first and third in their respective first round races.

Cotton, going off in heat two of six, had a quick pace to contend with as they went through 400m in 53.61. He had to work hard from fourth place down the back straight into third off the bend, clocking 1:50.24 to go through. “Those guys were always going to take it out,” he said of a Kenyan-Quatari pairing who clocked 1:49. “I didn’t want to go too early but I thought I’d put safety first. I’ve beaten the Irish guy (Mark Patterson who finished fourth) a couple of times this season so I thought I’d sit in and wait for the home straight.”

It was an easier outing for Brooks, seventh ranked in the world over the distance coming into the competition but with a recent 1500m best of 3:38.62 – the fastest time by a UK junior in 31 years and second on the All-Time list – to show great current form.

As he took the half mile win in 1:51.10, it was clear his outing over the longer distance had given him confidence.

“It was good, I got a bit boxed in for the first lap and I wanted to be a bit higher up,” he said, having passed through 400m in 54.53. “I had to run a bit wide at 250m to go but got myself out of danger at 120m when it gets a bit pushy and I was relatively comfortable. It was one of the slowest heats so far, but it’s about being patient and I managed to run it in.”

On the in-field, and following the postponement of their event due to heavy rain on Thursday, it was also two from two as world junior number four Holly Bleasdale (coach: Julien Raffalli-Ebezant) and Sally Scott (coach: Steve Rippon) secured their places in Saturday’s pole vault final (14.20, 18.20 UK time).

Both vaulters went through with a height of 3.95m which was enough to progress without any undue effort. UK junior record holder Bleasdale came in at 3.85m before clearing 3.95m on her first attempt, while Scott, the Aviva UK under-20 champion, failed on her first effort at 3.95m before going clear.

It was also good news for Lawrence Okoye (coach: John Hillier), the world number three going into the discus competition, who secured his place in the men’s final with a best effort of 59.56m in the third and final round.

His medal challenge kicks off tomorrow (Saturday 24 July) at 15.30 (19.30 UK time), but he won’t, unfortunately, be joined by team mate Zane Duquemin (coach: John Hiller) who failed to progress with a best of 54.62m.

Also ending their competitions this morning, Isobel Pooley (coach: George Male) and Matthew Graham (coach: Patrick Savage) finished outside of the qualifying spots in the high jump and 3000m steeplechase respectively.

Pooley cleared 1.78m, but her first attempt failure cost her a place in the final on countback.

For Graham, the heat took its toll. The leaders, headed by 2010 world leader Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya) and Uganda’s Jacob Araptany, passed through the first kilometre in 2:52 before picking it up to clock 5:40.53 at 2km at which point the chasing group, including the US-based Scot, were 23 seconds behind. He worked hard to pull clear in eighth, but finished outside his PB in 9:09.36, the conclusion of a long and gruelling season.

Back in qualification, and having opened the morning’s track proceedings, Laura Weightman (coach: Steve Cram) raced to a third place finish and automatic qualifying spot for Sunday’s 1500m final (25 July at 14.15, 18.15 UK time) with a time of 4:17.11.

“We went through 400m in 63 and I thought I’m not going to get through here, but I just kept calm and worked my way through the field and I knew the ones ahead of me would slow down,” said the Morpeth athlete who pulled clear into third at the bell. “Coming into the last lap I knew I had third so I slowed down the whole way. Down the home straight I eased right off because I knew I had it. The first lap really took it out of me, it was five seconds faster than I’m used to but after that it did slow down a bit, but the pace kept picking back up then slowing down. I had a bit of trip when I was spiked on the knee but I’m fine, it didn’t bother me too much, it was fine, I’m happy with that.”

And as the track programme moved from endurance to sprints, world leader Jack Meredith (coach: Donald Moss), got his 110mH medal campaign off to a solid start with victory in his heat (13.77, +0.1m/s).

“It was alright, it’s blown away the cobwebs, one down, two to go,” said the Liverpool athlete who clipped a few of the hurdles en route to victory. “I was itching to get on the track all week and it feels nice to get the first one out the way, get my legs moving and it’s woken me up. It was about getting that first one out my system, it was into a wind, but it was alright.”

And his strategy for Saturday’s semi final (24 July at 13.35, 17.35 UK time) and going forward? “Win, win again and go quicker.” Simple.

The women’s 4 x 100m relay team are first in action for the Aviva GB & NI team on this evening’s programme at 18.40 (22.40 UK time) as they target a place in Saturday’s final.