A UK 100m hurdles record and a solid high jump takes Jessica Ennis into the lead in the heptathlon while Katarina Johnson-Thompson also excels
The 100m hurdles has always been Jessica Ennis’ strongest event but surely nobody could have predicted she would tear to a UK record and the fastest time ever recorded in a heptathlon hurdles in the first track event of the morning.
Ennis enjoyed her blistering trademark start and helped by a following wind of 1.3 m/sec, the gold medal favourite stopped the clock at 12.54 for the best possible start. While Ennis’ performance was her best hurdles in a heptathlon by 0.39, world champion Tatyana Chernova was slow out the blocks and finished eighth and outside of her season’s best with 13.48.
The heptathletes confirmed the track is a fast one for the sprinters as the first five athletes from Ennis’ heat set PBs. Medal contenders Jessica Zelinka from Canada and Hyleas Fountain from USA were second and third in 12.65 and 12.70 respectively.
Reigning Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska from Ukraine was understandably not at her best in Götzis as she missed a lot of training after the death of her coach and husband in March but she set her third fastest 100m hurdles time ever of 13.57.
To put Ennis’ performance into perspective, she eclipsed world fourth placer Tiffany Porter’s UK record by two-hundredths and her time equalled Dawn Harper’s winning time in the 100m hurdles in Beijing. It would have also won seven of the ten Olympic 100m hurdles finals.
Let’s not forget, Ennis might take part in the individual event too.
Ennis’ high jump perhaps isn’t as good as it once was but the 2009 world champion delivered a solid 1.86m performance which was one centimetre better than what she achieved en route to her UK record in Götzis.
This brings Ennis’ score to 2249 which compares favourably to her 2194 total after two events in Götzis.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson is also excelling on her major championships senior debut. The 19-year-old, who broke Ennis’ UK junior record earlier this year, equalled her PB of 13.48 in the 100m hurdles before upping her high jump PB to 1.89m which brings her total to 2146. She’s currently third overall although her shot put isn’t her strongest event.
Commonwealth champion Louise Hazel opened her day with 13.48 in the 100m hurdles and 1.59m in the high jump.
Culson leads 400m hurdles heats
World-leader Javier Culson was the fastest qualifier in the 400m hurdles. Unbeaten this year, the world silver medallist eased through his heat in a swift 48.33 ahead of Kerron Clement, who set a season’s best of 48.48.
World champion Dai Greene wasn’t unduly fazed with his lane one draw as he qualified comfortably with 48.98. Despite finishing fifth in his heat, Rhys Williams was the seventh fastest qualifier with a season’s best of 49.17 .
Greene’s training partner Jack Green followed in former Olympic champion Felix Sanchez 49.24 to 49.49 in the sixth heat.
The most noteworthy non-qualifiers were former European champion Periklís Iakovákis from Greece and reigning world bronze medallist LJ Van Zyl who were both outside 50 seconds.
Ohuruogu fourth fastest for 400m semis
Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu looked in good form in the 400m heats although she allowed Francena McCorory to win the heat in 50.78 to Ohuruogu’s 50.80 which was two-tenths faster than her time in the heats in Beijing.
Fastest in the heats were world champion Amantle Montsho from Botswana with 50.40 and world-leader Antonina Krivoshapka, who blasted through the first 300m before easing down to 50.75.
Shana Cox, 52.01 in heat two and Lee McConnell, 52.23 in heat five, also qualified automatically.
Day one round-up
World indoor champion Yamilé Aldama was just one of two athletes to qualify automatically with her first jump in the triple jump qualifying. Competing in her fifth Games, Aldama eased to a 14.45m jump to qualify as the third longest jumper for Sunday’s final.
Alex Smith performed well in the hammer as he went out to 74.71m in group A. His qualification prospects looked unlikely but surprisingly, only one athlete from group B surpassed Smith’s distance and he became the first Brit to qualify for the Olympic men’s hammer final since 1984.
No surprises in the 3000m steeplechase as the three Kenyans easily progressed to the final along with Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi and US record-holder Evan Jager.
Stuart Stokes was last in the third heat in 8:43.04.