Tom Bosworth (coach: Andi Drake) got the second morning of Zurich 2014 off to a good start, putting in a strong showing in the men’s 20km race walk, which took place on the streets of Zurich city centre. In wet conditions, the Leeds AC man passed 10km bang on personal best schedule, in nineteenth place. Although he slowed slightly in the second half, Bosworth moved through the field well to end up twelfth in 1.23.17, beating plenty of athletes with faster personal bests.
“I am really pleased. I was aiming to get as close to the top ten as possible and I knew I was ranked around twentieth so that was perfect. The plan was to set off at a quite steady but at a fast enough pace and then see how many would come back to me. I knew there would be a handful and I worked out I was 18th coming into the last 8km and I could see them ahead of me.
“I’m happy with the time; it’s my third fastest ever. This is just another stepping stone to the World Championships and Rio 2016. I’m not even close to my peak yet so it’s exciting.”
That was the only final of the morning, with action resuming in the Letzigrund Stadium where it left off last night, with Jo Pavey’s (Gavin Pavey) fabulous 10,000m gold. Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) was the first victor of day two, winning heat one of the women’s 400mH to advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Child got out hard over the first 200m, building up a good lead, which allowed her to ease right off the gas in the closing stages and still qualifying fastest by almost half a second. The Glasgow 2014 silver medallist was pleased with her run, and insisted you have to take these early rounds seriously.
“I was quite nervous this morning – my last race was the Commonwealth’s, which feels like ages ago! It was an early start so I just wanted to get out there, get the race out of the way and qualify with ease; I think I did that so I’m happy now.”
On wearing the blue bib that signifies being ranked European number one, Child added:
“It’s different! I probably felt more nervous for Glasgow as I had all that attention on me, but here I’m obviously the favourite so it is a bit different. I’ve just got to go in and execute my race, and if I do that I’ll be happy.”
It was a similar story in round one of the women’s 800m, with all three GB & NI girls securing top three spots to qualify by right for tomorrow’s semi-finals. Child’s Scotland teammate and fellow Glasgow 2014 silver medallist Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider) looked full of confidence, winning the fourth and final heat in 2.01.55, the perfect start to her title defence.
“This is so important. It’s great to be part of a British team again, as the last time I was part of a British team outdoors was the London Olympics.”
It was senior debutant Alison Leonard (Bud Baldaro) who was fastest qualifier though, winning heat one in 2.01.47. She ran a smart race, sitting on the leaders shoulder the whole way before kicking away with 100m to go.
“I’m really pleased with how I raced it. I thought the Russian might have gone out hard but the younger girl did. I just sat behind her and felt comfortable and I thought about going past her in the back straight but I wasn’t ready, so I just waited until the home straight.
“I’m so happy! It’s taken five years to convert a junior vest into a senior vest. On the start line I was starting to feel really nervous, but I just though no, you’ve waited five years and you’ve always wanted this and I just really enjoyed it.”
Jess Judd (Rob Denmark) also made certain of her place in the next round, running from the front to secure a third place finish in 2.02.30. Afterwards she said:
“I didn’t really plan to take it on! Rob said to just think on my feet and I did that. At the break no one took it on and I so I ended up at the front and so I just kept it going. I always feel rubbish in the heats, so I’m happy it’s over. Hopefully I can come back tomorrow and do better.”
GB & NI also had three qualifiers for tomorrow’s 110mH semi-finals thanks to accomplished runs by William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz), Lawrence Clarke (Arnold) and Andy Turner (Lloyd Cowan).
Clarke was first up for in heat two, and he made amends for a poor run in Glasgow with a third place finish and a 13.46 time. Up next was Glasgow 2014 silver medallist Sharman, and he looked cool, calm and collected, taking victory in a swift 13.29. Afterwards he commented:
“I’m feeling strong. It was a good race – I came out nice and strong then just made an assessment – I’d seen what was happening around me. I felt someone on the far side so I just kicked it up a gear and then just brought it home.”
Special mention must go to Turner who today announced he will retiring from athletics at the end of the season. He was drawn in the final heat, which was the most difficult meaning his fourth place clocking of 13.51 was enough to advance.
In the field, Chris Baker (Sharon Heveran) coped well in wet, slippy conditions to book his place in the men’s high jump final. With first time clearances up to 2.19m, it took Baker three attempts to clear 2.23m, a height which ensured he’ll be back on Friday.
“The first few jumps were okay and I was up there. I’m still working on a few issues but it’s there; I just need to put it together in the final. The wheels nearly fell off [at 2.23m] but in the end it was fine. It was a third attempt, but a strong one – I always seem to do it on the third. I’ve just got to enjoy myself now and think process not outcome.”
In the women’s hammer qualifying, Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson) struggled to replicate her best form, only managing one valid throw of 62.93m, meaning she misses out on a place in the final.
Ashley Bryant (Ian Grant) resumed his decathlon campaign in the first track event of the day, the men’s 110mH. Sitting on 3951 points overnight, Bryant stopped the clock at 14.87 before going on to throw 41.49m in the discus.
It was at this point the decathletes body had had enough though, and after the Glasgow 2014 decathlon 10 days ago, Bryant was feeling achilles and hamstring pain, so withdrew as a precaution.
Full results from all of day one can be seen here: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-championships/2014/schedules-results/
Tune in tonight to watch both the men’s and women’s 100m final, as well as Tiffany Porter (Reider) going for gold in the women’s 110mH. You can watch all the action live on BBC Two from 16.45 UK time.
GB & NI team performances:
GOLD – Jo Pavey – Women’s 10,000m