World pentathlon champion has 2111 points after 100m hurdles and high jump, while session features top 800m qualifying round led by Caster Semenya
Katarina Johnson-Thompson leads the Commonwealth Games heptathlon with 2111 points after the first two events on the Gold Coast.
The world pentathlon champion first clocked 13.54 for fourth in a 100m hurdles race won by Australia’s Celeste Mucci in a 13.19 PB and went on to clear a best of 1.87m in the high jump – the same height as Mucci’s team-mate, Alysha Burnett – after soaring over 1.81m, 1.84m and 1.87m on her first attempts.
The 25-year-old, who has a high jump PB of 1.98m, waited more than an hour and a half to take her first jump after choosing to pass the first 10 heights of the competition.
Johnson-Thompson’s England team-mate Niamh Emerson retired from the high jump after clearing 1.84m, which the 18-year-old added to a hurdles time of 14.08.
Nina Schultz also cleared 1.84m – a PB for the Canadian – to go with her 13.47 in the hurdles, while Northern Ireland’s Kate O’Connor recorded a personal best of 1.78m after a time of 14.99.
Johnson-Thompson had earlier been the first athlete over to Katie Stainton when her team-mate suffered a fall in the hurdles. Stainton returned to competition in the high jump, clearing heights from 1.54m up to 1.63m on her first attempts before making it over 1.66m and 1.69m on her second tries and 1.72m on her third.
Scotland’s Holly McArthur ran 14.17 in the hurdles and cleared a 1.69m PB in the high jump.
Behind Johnson-Thompson after the first two events, Schultz has 2084 points to sit second, while Mucci is in third with 2012.
Emerson sits fifth with 1996 points behind Burnett’s 2001, while McArthur is in joint ninth with O’Connor (1796) and Stainton in 13th after her 879 points in the high jump.
Also taking place during Thursday’s morning session, the women’s 800m qualifying round was easily the highest standard ever at the Commonwealth Games as nine athletes went out of the competition despite running quicker than the previous fastest non final qualifier of 2:01.83.
Back on the track after her 1500m Games record for gold, South Africa’s Caster Semenya won the first 800m heat in 1:59.26 ahead of England’s Alex Bell, who ran a well-judged race to come through for the runner-up spot in a PB of 2:00.11 to also make the final.
Kenya’s Margaret Wambui and Emily Cherotich Tuei won won the next two heats in 2:00.60 and 2:00.58 respectively.
England’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke finished third in 2:00.81 in a race which saw Northern Ireland’s Ciara Mageean place seventh in 2:03.30, while Scotland’s Lynsey Sharp was fourth in her heat in 2:01.33 and England’s Adelle Tracey sixth in hers in 2:02.03 so they will not join their fellow British athlete Bell in the final.
The quickest non qualifier for the final was New Zealand’s Angela Petty, who clocked 2:00.62.
England’s Tiffany Porter and Alicia Barrett progressed through to the 100m hurdles final after clocking 12.99 and 13.19 respectively in their heats. Wales’ Caryl Granville missed out after 13.98 for sixth in her heat.
Quickest overall was Jamaica’s 2015 world champion Danielle Williams with 12.69.
The event is missing Australian favourite Sally Pearson, who was forced to withdraw ahead of athletics action getting under way on the Gold Coast after an Achilles injury “flared up considerably”.
“At this point, I’m pleased to confirm my place in the final,” said Porter. “The time isn’t really what I’m focusing on, the objective was simply to get through to the next round and I’m excited to race in another Commonwealth Games final.”
The second of the T12 100m heats was won by South Africa’s Ndodomzi Jonathan Ntutu in a Games record 10.80. His team-mate Hilton Langenhoven had won the first heat in 11.27 ahead of England’s Zac Shaw with 11.58, while Wales’ James Ledger was third in 11.77 and Canada’s George Quarcoo suffered a heavy fall. With only the top athlete in each race guaranteed a place in the final, Shaw and Ledger’s times were not enough for them to advance.
Nathan Douglas’ leap of 16.27m secured him a spot in the triple jump final as Yordanys Duranona Garcia of Dominica led qualifying with 16.75m as the only athlete to achieve the automatic qualifying distance of 16.60m. Douglas’ England team-mate Nathan Fox announced on the eve of the event that he had been forced to withdraw due to “an acute injury”.
Describing it as “an incredibly tough decision”, Fox added: “At this stage of the season the risks outweighed the rewards.”
Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres enjoyed a strong start in the discus, throwing 66.20m in the first round of qualifying to make the final.
Jersey’s Zane Duquemin recorded a best of 57.66m for fourth in group A and he was also guaranteed to progress despite not making the automatic qualifying mark of 62.00m, with space for 12 athletes in the final and eight athletes throwing in the later group B.
In that second group, Australia’s Matty Denny – back in action after his hammer silver – received huge cheers as he achieved the automatic qualification mark with 64.67m. Traves Smikle will join his team-mate Dacres in the final after a throw of 64.69m.
New Zealand’s Valerie Adams goes for a fourth consecutive shot put title on the Gold Coast and she launched the shot out to 18.52m to qualify with ease. England’s three athletes – Rachel Wallader (17.20m), Sophie McKinna (17.24m outdoor PB) and Amelia Strickler (16.57m) – will join her in the final.
» See the April 12 and 19 editions of AW magazine for in-depth event-by-event coverage from the Gold Coast Games