European under-23 champ threw 77.42m on morning that Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson began their heptathlon campaigns in Beijing
Nick Miller threw 77.42m on Saturday to become Britain’s first ever male hammer finalist at the IAAF World Championships.
The British record-holder, whose best is 77.55m from Sweden in July, needed just one throw at Beijing’s Bird’s Next stadium on the opening morning of the championships to advance on his debut at the event and will be joined in the final by throwers including Poland’s defending champion Pawel Fajdek, who with 78.38m was the only other athlete to achieve the automatic qualifying mark.
“Today went well,” said Miller. “It was exactly what I needed to do, just the same as I have been doing in training all week.
“I’m very happy,” added the 22-year-old. “I try not to think about too much and now everything matters tomorrow.”
With 73.87m, Miller’s GB team-mate Mark Dry was 64 centimetres away from making the final and no male Briton other than Miller has thrown further at the World Championships.
Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson got their heptathlon campaigns off to a promising start and the British athletes fill the top two spots in the standings after the first two events.
World junior bronze medallist Nadine Visser of Netherlands had gone quickest in the opening event, the 100m hurdles, clocking a 12.81 PB when beating Ennis-Hill in the final heat. Ennis-Hill’s 12.91 put her just ahead of favourite Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who proved her form with a 12.98 PB – her first time under 13 seconds.
Johnson-Thompson placed third in heat three, her time of 13.37 a PB by 0.04 run in a race won by Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece-Admidina in a 13.21 PB. After the first event, the top three was Visser on 1153 points, Ennis-Hill on 1138 points and Theisen-Eaton with 1127 points.
Ennis-Hill and Johnson-Thompson then had contrasting experiences in the high jump. While Olympic champion Ennis-Hill enjoyed first-time clearances up to 1.86m, Johnson-Thompson required all three attempts to get over her opening height of 1.80m but went on to prove that had been a mere blip by clearing 1.86m on her first try. She again took three tries to get over 1.89m but was the only athlete to manage that height.
After the two events, Ennis-Hill leads with her 2192 points ahead of Johnson-Thompson’s 2162. Visser sits third on 2131 points, while Theisen-Eaton is fifth with 2105, one place behind Anastasiya Mokhnyuk of Ukraine with 2130 points.
Genzebe Dibaba eased through to the 1500m semi-finals, qualifying with 4:02.59 for the quickest ever heat or semi-final time in this event at the World Champs. Both British athletes also safely progressed, though not without incident. Laura Muir got stuck in traffic meaning she only arrived to the stadium five minutes before her warm-up was due to start, while Laura Weightman crossed the line clear but then suffered a heavy fall and banged her head.
“We got delayed on the bus coming over here,” said Muir. “I just had to deal with it, which is what I did, so I’m pleased.”
After being checked over, Weightman was given the all clear and will return to run in Sunday’s semi-finals.
Nijel Amos, Mohammed Aman and David Rudisha were among those to win their 800m heats, but there is no space in the next round for the two British athletes in action – Kyle Langford and Michael Rimmer.
Langford ran 1:49.78 to finish seventh in a heat won by Aman in 1:47.87, while Rimmer clocked 1:48.70 but was narrowly run out of a top three spot in the final heat, won by Rudisha in 1:48.31, and also wasn’t among the fastest losers.
It was a close finish in the first men’s 3000m steeplechase heat, with a slow race meaning a battle was on to secure one of the top three spots for qualification. Evan Jager, who ran an American record in Paris, was among those fighting for the line and he dipped to get second behind Kenya’s 2013 silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto in 8:41.41. Canada’s Matthew Hughes got the final place while France’s Yoann Kowal was among those to miss out with the next two heats quicker.
Commonwealth silver medallist and world leader Jairus Birech won the second heat in 8:25.77, while three-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi took the final heat in 8:24.75.
Christina Schwanitz was among the seven athletes to make the qualifying mark in the women’s shot and will return for the final later on Saturday where she will hope to go one better than her silver in Moscow two years ago. In an event missing Valerie Adams, who decided to sit out the event having felt she was not ready to compete at a major championships after the shoulder and elbow operations she underwent last winter, other athletes to also achieve the 18.30m mark included USA’s Michelle Carter, Hungary’s Euro indoor champ Anita Marton and local favourite Gong Lijiao.
The men’s 100m preliminary round saw athletes including Oman’s Barakat Al-Harthi (10.31) and Ratu Banuve Tabakaucoro of Fiji (10.50) progress to Saturday evening’s heats.