British sprinter grabs 200m medal on disappointing day for his team in Helsinki
Britain’s Danny Talbot took bronze over 200m, but the main news of the day from a British perspective came in the morning session when their women’s 4x100m Olympic hopes appeared to be crushed after a disqualification in the heats.
Their race appeared competent at first and they ran a season’s best of 43.51 to seemingly easily qualify for the final, but when the judges looked more closely they were then disqualified for Hayley Jones running on the line on the bend on leg three. That was probably bad enough, but Poland (43.13) and Switzerland (43.51) gaining legal times meant Britain had dropped from 15th to 17th in the world rankings and they are set to be out of the Olympics, which is only open to the 16 fastest during the qualification period. The 43.51 they clocked would have been sufficient had they not been disqualified.
Charles van Commenee withdrew funding from the the women’s relay squad two years ago as he felt they weren’t reaching the required levels. Ukraine, running two of their three runners who were in the evening’s 200m final, were fastest in 42.93.
The 200m was the final men’s track event on a bad day at the office for Team GB. Talbot led into the straight, but he couldn’t quite hold the speed and 50m out favourite Churandy Martina shot past after a steady bend. Martina won in 20.42, an excellent time in the poor conditions and with the -0.9m headwind. His margin of 0.45 equalled the biggest ever in these championships.
Netherlands made it a one-two with Patrick Van Luijk also finishing strongly. Talbot came under pressure from 400m star Jonathan Borlee, but he held on to take bronze in 20.95 to the Belgian’s 20.99. Chris Clarke was sixth in 21.26.
In a rain-affected discus, Britain’s Lawrence Okoye failed to match his qualification form and he finished last with just 60.09m.
It was a competition, though, that would grace the London Olympics. Two-time world champion Robert Harting won a gold for Germany with 68.30m to go one better than he did in Barcelona 2010. It was his 28th successive victory.
He started with 63.02m, improved to 65.80m in the second round to take the lead and then his winning throw came in the fourth round. He also had the second best throw of the competition with 67.07m in the last round.
Reigning Olympic champion Gerd Kanter was second for Estonia with 66.53m while Hungary’s Zoltan Kovago, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, took bronze with 66.42m.
Another top-class event of near Olympic-standard was the hammer. Krisztian Pars, second in the European and world lists with 82.28m, was the favourite. He had been top qualifier with 78.09m and he dominated with the best five throws of the competition, highlighted by a 79.72m fourth round.
Pars was the silver medallist in last year’s World Championships and third in the 2010 European Championships and this was his first major title at the age of 30. Russian Aleksey Zagorny took silver with 77.40m while 2000 Olympic champion Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland won the bronze with 76.67m.
The heptathlon was won by France’s Antoinette Nana Djimou with a personal best world-class score of 6544 points. Off to a good start in the 100m hurdles with 13.11/0.4, she was second overnight on 3739 points. However, a 6.42/1.2 long jump and 55.82m javelin throw gave her a big lead. That javelin was the longest ever in a European Championships heptathlon.
In the 800m, her 2:17.99 800m gave her gold by 157 points. Lyudmila Yosypenko took silver for Ukraine on 6387 while Laura Ikauniece took bronze with 6387.
It was an exciting race in the 3000m steeplechase with a 3:01 final kilometre and a 66.0 final circuit giving Turkey’s Gulcan Mingir the gold. She won in 9:32.96 with Ukraine’s Svitlana Shmidt behind by just seven hundredths of a second after she kicked past on the inside after the water jump. Germany’s Antje Moldner-Schmidt took bronze in 9:36.37.
Thirty-five-year-old Italian Fabrizio Donato easily won the triple jump. He set a European-leading mark of 17.53m/0.8 in the second round, though that wasn’t the winning distance. He had jumped a windy 17.63/2.8m in the first round and he also had a 17.49m third round for the three best jumps of the competition.
Ukraine’s Sheryl El-Sheryf took silver with a windy 17.28m/2.2 while Aliaksei Tsapik of Belarus took bronze with a very windy 16.97m/3.8.
The men’s 10,000m was a fairly average-standard event. Halfway was passed in 14:21.93 with Briton Keith Gerrard in the pack. Gerrard lost contact with the leading group of eight at 7km and it went down to a last-lap sprint with Turkish Kenyan Polat Kemboi Arikan taking gold in 28:22.27, courtesy of a 57.2 last 400m.
The pole vaulters had to endure awful conditions and all three medallists cleared 4.60m. Czech Jirina Ptacnikova won courtesy of a clear record until she attempted 4.65m.
Ukraine came close to a clean sweep in the 200m as Mariya Ryemyen showed no ill-effects from her 4x100m relay heat in the morning to win in a modest 23.05, compared to her heat and semi times of 22.82 and 22.77.
Hrystna Stuy, only fifth-ranked from the semi-finals, took silver in 23.17 while defending champion Myriam Soumare tied up in the straight after leading off the bend and finished third in 23.21 with Viktoriya Pyatachenko giving Ukraine three of the top four. Netherlands’ European junior heptathlon champion Dafne Schippers disappointed after a 22.70 semi final and she was fifth in 23.53.
In the 100m hurdles Nevin Yanit was the only runner to break 13 seconds in the wet conditions of the semi-finals. In slightly better conditions in the final she won in 12.81 into a 1.4m/s headwind. Belarus took the other medals with Alina Talay second in 12.91 and Ekaterina Poplavskaya gaining bronze in 12.97.
In the 4x400m, Great Britain won their heat in 3:05.50 with Luke Lennon-Ford (47.0) starting off steadily and Michael Bingham (45.7), Conrad Williams (46.07) and an easing-up Nigel Levine (46.69) giving them a comfortable victory. Richard Buck will probably replace one of the runners in the final.
Belgium, courtesy of a fast Kevin Borlee anchor, won the other heat in a slightly faster 3:05.29.
In the women’s 4×400 Britain were second in their heat in 3:29.96 to France’s 3:29.03. Russia only qualified as a fastest loser with 3:31.35 in fourth in Britain’s heat.
Charlene Thomas was another major British disappointment. The impressive winner of the European Team Championships last year looked in control as she led through 800m in 2:16.59.
However, she lost her position 600m out and at the bell was ninth in 3:07.3 and her last lap was painful 75 seconds as she faded to last. She was the slowest of the 26 competitors but then she was disqualified for running inside the kerb. Ukranian Anna Mishchenko was fastest with 4:08.95.
Tom Lancashire also disappointed in the men’s 1500m. He looked in a challenging position on the third lap but was totally outpaced, in what was a modest-standard event anyway. His last lap was over 58 seconds in a slow-run race and he clocked 3:47.80.
Perhaps less surprisingly, all British vaulters – Max Eaves, Andrew Sutcliffe and Luke Cutts – failed to qualify even though first-time clearances at 5.30m would have ultimately sufficed. Additionally Eaves would have had a better chance of qualifying had he attempted 5.40m instead of 5.50m, at which he exited the competition. Sutcliffe, like Eaves, cleared 5.30m; Cutts just 5.10m.
In the women’s discus qualifying, Jade Nicholls threw a disappointing 51.75m. Having claimed to have thrown 58m in training the day before, a throw of 56.95m would have sufficed for the final. Germany’s Nadine Muller headed the qualifiers with 64.49m.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Britain’s men’s 4×100 team looked good as Christian Malcolm, Dwain Chambers, James Ellington and Mark Lewis-Francis combined to set the fastest time of 38.98. France won the other heat despite poor changovers involving their big stars Christophe Lemaitre and Jimmy Vicaut.
In addition, two of the three Brits made the men’s 110m hurdles semi-finals with William Sharman qualifying easily in second with 13.63 in his heat, though Gianni Frankis only qualified as a fastest loser with his 13.71. Richard Alleyne had trouble clashing arms with the athlete beside him and failed to qualify with a 14.02 clocking.