Usain Bolt looks incredibly smooth in his 200m heat, but injury-hit Britons bow out in the opening rounds of their events
There was a mixture of success and tears for British athletes in the morning session on day five.
Triple jumper Phillips Idowu and national javelin record-holder Goldie Sayers had both been touted as genuine medal hopes, but despite trying to compete through the pain, both athletes saw their Olympic dreams end in the qualifying round of their respective events.
Just last month Sayers had beaten the world’s best throwers by improving her own UK record to 66.17m at the London Diamond League, but she tore a ligament in her elbow in that same competition.
Here, Sayers didn’t look fit to compete and, clearly in pain, recorded three fouls that all landed short of the 50-metre mark. 2008 Olympic champion Barbora Špotáková qualified strongly with 66.19m, as did German pair Christina Obergföll and Linda Stahl and world leader Sunette Viljoen, who all threw in excess of 64m.
After the controversial lead up to the Games surrounding the form of Phillips Idowu, the 2009 world champion was also found to be short of form, recording a best mark of just 16.53m and failing to qualify.
Favourite Christian Taylor of the USA and defending bronze medallist Leevan Sands qualified with the farthest jumps of 17.21m and 17.17m respectively.
The heartbreak continued in the heats of the men’s 110m hurdles. Having enjoyed a massive breakthrough this year which saw him place fourth at the World Indoor Championships, there was high hopes that Andy Pozzi could progress to at least the semi-final.
But he had been suffering with a hamstring injury since the London Diamond League and here looked uncomfortable from the gun before pulling out after the first hurdle.
He was by no means the only big name to crash out though. After bitter disappointment in front of his home crowd four years ago, 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang once again bowed out of the heats in dramatic fashion, hitting the first hurdle and having to be carried off the track in a wheelchair.
Britain’s Andy Turner ended up winning that heat in 13.42, while team-mate Lawrence Clarke placed second in his behind world champion Jason Richardson.
The other heat winners included European Champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia, Cuban pair Orlando Ortego and defending champion Dayron Robles and world leader Aries Merritt of the United States. Merritt’s 13.07 was the fastest ever clocking in the first round or quarter-finals at the Olympics.
Fresh from their PB runs to finish seventh and eighth in the 10,000m on Friday, Julia Bleasdale and Jo Pavey returned to the track for the heats of the 5000m and qualified comfortably for the final.
Clearly in the form of her life, Bleasdale clocked a personal best of 15:02.00 in fourth, while Pavey was seventh in a season’s best of 15:02.84. Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka and 10,000m medallists Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego were the top three in that race, while 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba won the first heat with a fast 14:58.48. Despite running a personal best of 15:12.81 in that heat, Barbara Parker finished ninthand failed to qualify.
In the men’s 200m heats, Christian Malcolm indicated that he could be finding his best form at the right time, finishing second in 20.59. James Ellington a long way off his best in heat seven, clocking just 21.23 for sixth.
But Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake cruised through as heat winners in 20.39 and 20.38 respectively, while team-mate Warren Weir also looked relaxed, winning his heat in 20.29. France’s Christophe Lemaitre spearheads the European campaign having won the first heat in 20.34.