Hatton moves to third on UK all-time 60m hurdles list with 7.96 at European Indoor Championships, while Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Morgan Lake get a strong start in the pentathlon
After some qualifying events on Thursday evening, the first full day of European Indoor Championships action got underway on Friday morning in Prague.
There were personal best performances by the first four British athletes up on the O2 Arena track and all in the 60m hurdles.
Lucy Hatton had been handed a discretionary place on the GB team for the Euro Indoors after missing the qualifying standard by just 0.01. She justified that selection by clocking 8.02 in Sweden at the end of last month and in the third heat proved she’s not in Prague just to make up the numbers by dipping under eight seconds for the first time. Her 7.96 betters her own British under-23 record and puts her joint third on the UK all-time list.
Joining her in this afternoon’s semi finals is Serita Solomon who clocked an 8.03 PB to win the final heat. Others to progress include heat winners Hanna Plotitsyna of Ukraine and Alina Talay of Belarus, both with 8.04, and Germany’s Cindy Roleder with 8.07.
“The track is absolutely fantastic,” said Hatton. “I pushed it forward and gave everything. But of course, there is still some space for improvement. Still two more races ahead of me today but I feel ready.”
There was a strong start for Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the pentathlon as she took 0.07 off her 60m hurdles PB with 8.18 for 1088 points and an early lead in the five-discipline event. She was among a number of athletes to clock personal bests, with Netherlands’ Nadine Broersen running an 8.31 PB behind France’s defending champion Antoinette Nana Djimou with 8.25. In the second race, 17-year-old Morgan Lake clocked an 8.81 PB in a race won by Ukraine’s Alina Fyodorova in an 8.49 PB.
Given Johnson-Thompson’s current record-breaking form, which has seen her revise the national high jump and indoor long jump marks this winter, an obvious target would seem to be Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British pentathlon record of 4965 points set in 2012. Though speaking ahead of the competition, the 22-year-old explained how she doesn’t have her sights set on breaking records and that her aim is to be competitive and do herself justice.
However, record-breaking seemed increasingly possible after Johnson-Thompson extended her lead with a second win after soaring over 1.95m for 1171 points and the best ever high jump clearance in a European Indoors pentathlon. British athletes filled the top two spots as Lake cleared 1.92m to join Johnson-Thompson in the top three after two events – Johnson-Thompson on 2259 points, Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam second on 2128 and Lake on 2082.
Broersen was in tears after requiring three attempts at her opening height of 1.77m in the high jump – the world indoor pentathlon champion having suffered ankle problems recently. She retired from the competition after two failed tries at 1.80m.
Fyodorova improved her shot put PB to 15.07m for the best throw of the third pentathlon event. After winning the first two events, Johnson-Thompson placed last in what is her weakest event. Her best of 12.32m saw her drop a place overall as Thiam’s 14.80m shot PB saw her replace Johnson-Thompson at the top. Lake’s first throw was her best, her 13.91m a PB. Thiam has 2976 points after three events ahead of Johnson-Thompson’s 2941.
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde led the men’s 60m hurdles heats, with France’s three athletes all winning their races. World indoor silver medallist Martinot-Lagarde clocked 7.58 in heat three ahead of GB team captain Lawrence Clarke with 7.65, Dimitri Bascou ran 7.65 in heat one and Wilhem Belocian 7.63 in heat two. Russia’s Konstantin Shabanov took the final heat in 7.61. Clarke’s younger team-mate David Omoregie also progresses, his 7.72 for fourth in heat two enough for a fastest loser spot.
All three of Britain’s 400m runners progressed to this evening’s semi-finals. European leader Seren Bundy-Davies ran a smooth race to clock 53.07 and win heat four, while Laura Maddox ran 53.67 to win heat three and Kirsten McAslan was a close second with 53.27 behind Ukraine’s Nataliya Pyhyda with 53.20 in the final heat. Heat one was won by Netherlands’ Madiea Ghafoor in 53.06 and heat two by France’s Marie Gayot in 53.04.
The noise in the O2 Arena went up a notch as host nation favourite Pavel Maslák eased over the line to take the third 400m heat in 47.23. Britain’s sole representative in this event, Jarryd Dunn, was also among those to make it through to the semi-finals, his 47.47 enough for a fastest loser spot.
Despite having suffered a cold in the run up to the championships, Jenny Meadows eased to victory in her 800m heat, clocking 2:02.59. Russia’s Yekaterina Poistogova was the quickest qualifier with 2:01.44, winning the first heat ahead of Iceland’s Aníta Hinriksdóttir who bettered her own European junior indoor record with 2:01.56. Shelayna Oskan-Clarke missed out on a semi-final spot, her 2:05.08 for third in heat three not enough to make it through.
Scottish runner Guy Learmonth was among the men’s 800m heat winners. He clocked 1:49.38 to take heat five. Ireland’s Mark English will be joined by team-mate Declan Murray in the semi-finals, while Britons James Bowness and Mukhtar Mohammed don’t progress.
Front running paid off for Emelia Gorecka in the 3000m as she won the second heat in a 9:03.97 indoor PB. Laura Muir also progresses after second in a close heat one with 8:57.71. Kate Avery missed out on a place in the final by one spot with 9:05.1 putting her fifth in heat two.
A clearance of his opening height was enough to see France’s Olympic champion and world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie through to the pole vault final but it took him all three attempts at 5.70m. Russia’s Dmitriy Sorokin was the sole athlete to better the automatic triple jump qualifying mark with 16.76m. Portugal’s European leader Nelson Évora was also among those to progress to Saturday’s final with a best of 16.61m.
Serbia’s Ivana Spanović and Germany’s Sosthene Taroum Moguenara were the two athletes to automatically qualify for the women’s long jump final with best leaps of 6.76m and 6.72m respectively.
» For full results see www.european-athletics.org