Emelia Gorecka wins Britain’s first medal at this year’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona
European junior cross-country champion Emelia Gorecka kick-started Britain’s campaign at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona when she took bronze in the 3000m.
Having won silver in the 5000m at last year’s European Junior Championships, Gorecka’s bronze was her first global medal of her blossoming career. She was unafraid to go with the pace in this evening’s 3000m final and was always among the leaders.
After a moderate opening kilometre of 3:07, Gorecka took up the running at half way and led the field through 2000m in 6:16. Kenyan duo Mercy Chepwogen and Brillian Kipkoech and Ethiopian pair Hiwot Gebrekidan and Haftamnesh Tesfay were in close contact, but Gorecka moved up a gear in the final kilometre.
With a lap to go, it was still anyone’s to play for. Chepwogen moved into the lead but Gorecka responded and the pair were side-by-side as they came into the home straight. The Kenyan kicked again and opened up a gap while Gebrekidan started to make up ground, but Gorecka dug in and held on for the bronze medal.
With the medallists covering the final kilometre in 2:52, Chepwogen stopped the clock in 9:08.88 with Gebrekidan taking second in 9:09.27. Gorecka’s time of 9:09.43 was her fastest ever in a women’s only race, having recorded a slightly quicker 9:08.01 last year in a mixed race.
It is the first women’s 3000m medal won by a British athlete at the World Juniors since Philippa Mason’s silver in 1986. Paula Radcliffe’s best result in the event was a fourth-place finish at the 1992 edition of the championships.
In an event dominated by African athletes – Chepwogen’s gold was the fifth successive title for Kenya – the last time a European-born athlete won a medal over 3000m was ten years ago.
“I’m used to being out there in front,” said Gorecka, who is coached by Mick Woods and trains alongside former world junior champion Steph Twell. “The pace had started to slow down mid-race so I thought it was the right time to get to the front and hold on.
“I know I have a strong finish, I know the other leading girls did too, but I didn’t want to leave the race open to one-lap wonders so I chose to make it hard for everyone. I came here for a medal and I got one in an event that is traditionally very difficult for British athletes.”
There were two other finals on the first night of action at the Montjuic Stadium. In the women’s shot, Britain’s Sophie McKinna finished a respectable sixth – the highest-ever finish by a British female shot putter at the World Juniors. Her 15.98m throw was just half a metre off the medals, and she was beaten by five women who were older than her.
The title was won by Germany’s Shanice Craft, who threw a PB of 17.15m to win comfortably from Chinese duo Yang Gao (16.57m) and Ka Bian (16.48m).
In the final track event of the day, Kenya and Ethiopia once again battled it out in the men’s 10,000m with Yigrem Dimelash pulling off the victory in a PB of 28:16.07. Pre-race favourite Geoffrey Mirui – a sub-27 man at best – finished third behind compatriot Philemon Cheboi.
Earlier in the day, young British sprint hope Adam Gemili won his heat of the 100m with ease. Despite having to contend with the strongest headwind of the round at -2.5m/s, the soon-to-be Olympian posted the fastest time of the day with 10.37. USA’s Tyreek Hill – a 20.14 man over 200m – was also impressive, clocking 10.37 into a -2.3m/s headwind. Gemili’s team-mate Chijindu Ujah progressed from his heat, finishing second in 10.48 (-1.6m/s).
Double UK junior sprint champion Sophie Papps won her 100m heat in 11.59 in still conditions, but USA’s Dezerea Bryant looks to be the favourite after posting an 11.56 heat victory into a -2.6m/s headwind.
UK senior bronze medallist Jessica Judd was easily the fastest in the first round of the women’s 800m, front-running her way to a 2:02.71 win. Team-mate Emily Dudgeon also won her heat (2:05.73), while Morocco’s Manal El Bahraoui, Ukraine’s Anastasiya Tkachuk and USA’s Ajee Wilson also looked good.
Elsewhere, other British qualifiers included James Gladman in the 110m hurdles (13.69), Elliot Safo in the long jump (windy 7.62m) and Nick Percy in the discus (56.89m). 1500m runner Charlie Grice was unfortunate to be drawn in a tough heat, and marginally lost out in a final sprint to finish fourth (3:47.05), just one place away from making the final.