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Captain Lorraine Ugen leads the way at Athletics World Cup

Captain Lorraine Ugen leads the way at Athletics World Cup

Britain’s female field eventers impress, while USA’s Ashley Henderson is also among the winners on the first evening of action in London

Thanks to some especially good field performances by the women’s team, Britain lie fifth but only three points down on third at the end of the first evening at the Athletics World Cup.

As expected USA have a big lead with 109 points, with France – only expected to have 65 points at this stage – a clear second on 85 points.

Poland and Jamaica have 77 points with Britain on 74 (one down on their projected score) and South Africa on 73 well clear of Germany on 58 and China on 46.

Britain started superbly and after three events – all women’s events – briefly held the lead.

The pole vault was the first event to start and Holly Bradshaw was in superb form as she enjoyed one of her best ever victories.

The Briton had first time clearances at 4.50m, 4.60m and 4.68m and at this stage shared the lead with USA’s Katie Nageotte.

However, another first time clearance for the Briton – this time a season’s best 4.75m – was sufficient for victory and she chose not to jump higher.

“I was really excited to come here and compete and it brought me back to my roots of competing for Blackburn Harriers,” she said. “The crowd was amazing. It picks you up and energises you.”

Next, Olympic bronze medalist Sophie Hitchon was involved in a top-class hammer competition.

After a solid 71.96m opener, she set a season’s best of 73.48m to take the lead in the second round.

That did not last long as world and Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk responded with a 75.77m second round and then a world-leading 78.74m in round two.

The previous world leader Deanna Price of the USA could only throw 64.82m for sixth place – over 13 metres down on her best. That meant Hitchon finished second just ahead of her great rival Alexandra Tavernier of France who was third with a 73.48m throw.

Afterwards the Pole said: “I have great memories of the Olympic Stadium and last year and today. The atmosphere is great.”

Hitchon agreed and said: “It’s always great in this stadium and I love it. I came away crying last year but I’m not today. It’s more than I could have asked for.”

Britain’s other win also came in the field as GB captain Lorraine Ugen dominated the long jump.

Her 6.86m second round jump gave her victory by the huge margin of 38 centimetres as she won ahead of USA’s Quanesha Burks and Jamaica’s Tissana Hickling.

“For me this competition was great fun and a great opportunity to be relaxed and enjoy the night,” said Ugen. “The crowd were fantastic and it was nice to see so many friendly faces in the crowd.

“I have really enjoyed being captain. The team has embraced me as captain and I have tried to inspire them to get maximum points. I hope we can build on this on day two.”

The good results continued on the track too. In the opening race, Commonwealth champion Janieve Russell predictably won with a solid 55.10 but she was followed home by Meghan Beesley who started fast and hung on to a clear second place in 55.90.

Jamaica also won the women’s 400m easily as Commonwealth bronze medalist Stephenie Ann McPherson left her rivals almost a second back with a time of 50.98, with Anyika Onuora fighting all the way for fourth in 52.03, compared to a predicted sixth.

The 1500m saw a fast initial pace by France’s Ophelie Claude-Boxberger of 64.40 at 400m and 2:12.97 at 800m but she faded on the last lap and Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui kicked to victory with a 62 last lap in 4:07.66.

Jemma Reekie fought hard for third and set a PB 4:09.05.

There was a close contest in the women’s 100m with USA’s Ashley Henderson – in her first ever trip outside of America – narrowly winning in 11.07 from double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson’s 11.09.

GB’s Bianca Williams finished fourth in 11.25.

Britain’s 4x400m team set a fast season’s best of 3:26.48 but could only finish fifth in a high quality race.

Up ahead in an exciting finish, USA just held off Jamaica in 3:24.28 to win by a hundredth of a second.

The distances in the women’s javelin were more modest but it was close again as Sunette Viljoen won by less than a metre with a 61.69m final round throw with Kara Winger of USA second with 60.75m.

Laura Whittingham was sixth with 51.74m.

A men’s events report can be found here.

» Full results can be found here and the July 19 edition of AW will include further coverage

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