Richard Kilty and Asha Philip lead the way as host nation athletes advance at European Indoor Championships
All five of Britain’s 60m sprinters progressed to the semi-finals on a largely successful morning for the host nation team at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.
Following a golden evening of action for GB in the Emirates Arena, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Laura Muir having claimed pentathlon and 3000m titles respectively, defending 60m champions Richard Kilty and Asha Philip kept their aims of adding to that medal tally on track as they cruised through to the semi-finals.
It hadn’t been a smooth route to the championships for two-time winner and 2014 world indoor champion Kilty. Making a comeback after injury, the 29-year-old had not been able to achieve the 6.60 qualifying standard set by British Athletics. But his season’s best of 6.63 was well inside the European Athletics standard of 6.78.
He wasn’t initially included on the host nation team but later received a special invitation from European Athletics allowing him to compete.
Kilty’s campaign started with 6.68 for second in his heat behind Konstadinos Zikos of Greece with 6.66. Ojie Edoburun will join them both in the semi-finals as the Brit clocked 6.67 to win his own heat. Turkey’s Emre Zafer Barnes and Slovakia’s Ján Volko both ran 6.69 to win their heats.
“It’s the first major championships I’ve done for a while, so it’s a relief to be here and get things under way,” said Kilty.
“I sat in the blocks and obviously didn’t get the best start after that, but I won’t be doing that in the semi-final or final.”
The men’s semi-finals take place from 19:20, with the final at 20:50 (local time).
Philip was among the heat winners in the first round of the women’s competition as the British record-holder clocked 7.23 in the first race. She’ll be joined in the semi-finals by team-mates Rachel Miller, who won the third heat in 7.24, and Kristal Awuah, who ran 7.26 behind two-time world champion Dafne Schippers’ 7.24 in heat six.
“Hopefully I can qualify for the final and produce something big,” said Philip.
“It would mean a lot more to know that I’ve done it twice (winning gold) because not everyone can say that.”
Poland’s joint European leader Ewa Swoboda went fastest overall with 7.14 to win heat two.
Their campaign will continue with the semi-finals from 18:50, before the final at 20:35.
Britain’s reigning 60m hurdles champion and world indoor gold medallist Andrew Pozzi wasn’t sure that he’d have an indoor season at all following injury, but a third consecutive major title remains a possibility after he finished second in his heat with 7.62 behind Spain’s Orlando Ortega with 7.61.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could compete to a good level,” said Pozzi. “I absolutely love championships so everything that has come before is irrelevant when I come into this environment because I feel this is where I should be.”
GB’s David King also secured a semi-final spot as he ran 7.66 for third in a heat won by France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in 7.64.
After her bronze in the pentathlon the day before, France’s Solène Ndama returned to the track and won heat three of the women’s 60m hurdles in 8.04, just missing her PB. She’ll be joined in the final by Nadine Visser of Netherlands, who went quickest overall with 7.99, and Germany’s defending champion Cindy Roleder (8.04).
Holly Bradshaw and Abigail Irozuru also added to a strong morning for the host nation squad as they progressed in the pole vault and long jump respectively.
Bradshaw’s first-time clearance of 4.50m was enough to see her through to Sunday’s final, where she will be joined by defending champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who only needed one attempt to qualify. One hour and 45 minutes after the competition started, Stefanidi entered the competition at 4.60m and cleared it on her first try.
Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova – competing as an authorised neutral athlete – cleared both 4.50m and 4.60m first time to progress.
Irozuru had an anxious wait to learn if her 6.50m would be enough to put her in the long jump final. It was, as it placed her eighth, but she won’t be joined by team-mates Jahisha Thomas (6.34m) and Jazmin Sawyers (6.28m).
Meanwhile, Tim Duckworth enjoyed a solid start to his heptathlon campaign and he leads the competition after two events.
He first clocked 6.85 to finish second behind Estonia’s Karl Robert Saluri with 6.75 in the 60m, before a leading leap of 7.79m in the long jump.
He ended the first morning with 1943 points ahead of Saluri’s 1905.
» See the March 7 edition of AW magazine for in-depth coverage of the championships