There was a clean sweep of sprint and sprint hurdles qualifications on morning two of the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, while Tim Duckworth’s (Toby Stevenson; Liverpool) search for a first senior medal on the international stage began strongly as he heads into this evening with a 38-point lead at the top of the men’s heptathlon leader board following the 60m and long jump.
A morning which saw three reigning European indoor champions begin a defence of their titles – Asha Philip (Steve Fudge; Newham & Essex Beagles), Richard Kilty (Benke Blomkvist; Middlesbrough) and Andrew Pozzi (Stratord-upon-Avon; Santiago Antunez) – it was largely a case of last night’s success rolling over into day two of the championships at the Emirates Arena.
First to take to the track on day two, and looking to follow the shining example set by fellow multi-eventers Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin; Liverpool) and Niamh Emerson (David Feeney; Derby & Erewash) who clinched pentathlon gold and silver respectively last night, Duckworth kicked off his campaign with a 6.85 clocking over 60m for 936 points.
Come the long jump, Duckworth’s first effort proved to be his best, as a season’s best leap of 7.79m – just 1cm short of his previous best mark indoors – saw the Liverpool Harrier wrestle the lead from Karl Robert Saluri (EST) and move out in front on 1943 points to the Estonian’s 1905. Action in the heptathlon resumes with the shot put this at 18:02 this evening.
Wearing the orange ‘reigning champion’ race bib with pride, Philip opened up her Championships with a comprehensive victory to progress to the semi-finals of the women’s 60m, victory in heat one coming courtesy of 7.23 seconds.
Philip said: “It was a decent run for me but I couldn’t feel the girl running closest to my left so I had to push a little bit harder. It wasn’t one of the cleanest of runs for me but I know it was what I needed to do to get to the final. It would mean a lot more [to defend the title] to know that I’ve done it twice because not everyone can say that and it really would mean a lot to me.”
In the same event, and going in heat three of the six, Rachel Miller (Linford Christie; Thames Valley) showed little sign of nerves on her senior British debut as she too breezed through with victory in 7.24.
On her safe passage and the experience of representing Britain for the first time, a delighted Miller said: “I am absolutely thrilled. I just wanted to get through to the next round and I’m feeling really good and I’m really happy. I didn’t feel like I was pushing even if I looked like I was, I didn’t feel any pressure in any way. The aim is to stay relaxed, but I am going to watch the race back and see if there’s anything I need to work on for the semis.”
Kristal Awuah (Matthew Thomas; Herne Hill) then ensured it was three from three as she took second in her heat in a swift 7.26 – the fifth quickest of her career with plenty to spare – behind Dafne Schippers (NED).
The men’s equivalent saw fellow reigning champion Kilty remain unfazed by a false start in his heat as he began his assault on a third consecutive European indoor title with little drama, qualifying second from heat five with a time of 6.68.
Ahead of returning to the Emirates Arena this morning, Kilty said: “I didn’t push the whole way through and I didn’t start so great, so it was a bit of a sloppy race but I just wanted to get through nice and easy and then see what comes from the semi-final. It’s the first major championships I’ve done for a while, so it’s a relief to be here and get things underway.”
Leaving nothing to chance and looking equally comfortable in qualifying, Ojie Edoburun (Fudge; Shaftesbury Barnet) will join Kilty in the semi-finals this evening following victory in his heat with a time of 6.67. After a reasonable start, Edoburun clawed back the metres on Kevin Kranz to move beyond the fast-starting German and take the win.
Enjoying being in the form of her life, a buoyant Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn Harriers) – a European indoor champion in 2013 – chose to enter at 4.50m in the qualifying pool of the women’s pole vault, with a comfortable first-time clearance vindicating the decision.
Though two failures followed at 4.60m, Bradshaw’s clean scorecard at her opening height left her securing the eighth and final spot for the final and not needing to attempt the height for a final time.
Back on the track, and leading the British charge in the men’s hurdles while sporting the orange bib that marks him out as the man to beat, the returning Pozzi showed well to navigate the opening heat without cause for concern as a season’s best of 7.62 saw him progress to the semi-finals this evening.
“I felt really good after a good warm-up. It was really smooth – I could build my way into the race,” said Pozzi post-race. “I’ll keep getting better every round. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could compete to a good level. I absolutely love championships, so everything that has come before is irrelevant when I come into this environment because I feel this is where I should be.”
The recently crowned British indoor champion, David King (James Hillier; City of Plymouth) joins Pozzi in racing once again later today as he dipped over the line for third in his heat in 7.66 behind European champion Martinot-Lagarde (FRA) and Finland’s Elmo Lakka.
In women’s long jump qualifying action, the trio of Abigail Irozuru (Tom Cullen; Sale Harriers), Jazmin Sawyers (Lance Brauman; City of Stoke) and Jahisha Thomas (John Shepherd; Blackheath & Bromley) went in search of the automatic qualifying mark of 6.65m with a view to making tomorrow evening’s final.
With only the top-eight competitors advancing, it was Irozuru who fared the best of the three, with an opening round jump of 6.45m being improved by 5cm to 6.50m with her final jump to leave her in eighth and sweating on progression.
After two consecutive fouls left her needing a clutch jump over 6.50m to break into the top eight, Sawyers could have been the athlete to knock Irozuru out of a spot in the final. Only able to muster a best of 6.28 after a long wait for her third and final jump, it was a sigh of relief for compatriot Irozuru as her progression was finally confirmed.
Speaking afterwards, Irozuru said: “I was frustrated in the first round as I jumped 6.45m and was way behind the board. I just didn’t want to give away any centimetres. I was so nervous after the final jump because it was 6.50m but I didn’t know if it would be enough. When I got through to the final I just didn’t know what to say.
“I feel so happy but I’m also relieved; it was a relief to just make the team to be honest. I’m so thankful and ecstatic to reach the final. I want to go out there and represent my nation, myself and my team who have got me into this position. I’m thankful for all their support in getting me to this position.”
An athlete who didn’t experience any troubles getting on the board, it was a case of not being able to find enough distance on the day for Thomas as jumps of 6.33m, 6.20m and a third-round best of 6.34m saw her place 14th in the qualifying pool and without a spot in the final.
Action continues this evening from 18:00. The timetable for the championships can be found via.