Team England had another great morning at the Commonwealth Games as world 400m bronze medallist and men’s captain Matthew Hudson-Smith (coach: Gary Evans; club: Birchfield Harriers) was among the impressive qualifiers.
England also remained on course for the heptathlon title with all three athletes in contention for medals.
Hudson-Smith could afford to ease up and still comfortably win his one-lap heat in 46.26. Competing on the track on which he trains, the local athlete enjoyed massive support from the packed crowd as he blasted a fast first 300m and came home more than a half a second clear. He thus put to rest memories of the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast when he was disqualified for running out of his lane in the heat.
However, safely through to the semi-finals and after his recent British record of 44.35, he will be a strong contender for gold this time around.
Speaking about his goals to add silverware from here as well as the European Athletics Championships to his success in Eugene, he said afterwards:
“I’ve been saying all year that I came for three medals. I know a lot of people didn’t really believe me, but me and my coach came with a plan and the journey continues.”
Ben Pattison (Dave Regan, Basingstoke and Mid Hants) and Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb, Liverpool Harriers) both qualified comfortably for the 800m final.
Pattison bided his time and attacked around the final bend to win the final heat. After holding off world No.2 Wyclife Kinyamal of Kenya, he stopped the clock on 1:48.00.
Having set a PB of 1:44.60 less than two weeks ago, he will go into the final with high hopes. He told BBC Sport:
“Now I’m seeing on the start lists these 1:43, 1:44 guys and I’m thinking ‘That’s me. I’m there.’ Before I was a 1:45 guy and it’s a massive step to run 1:44. Going into the Commies, massive confident boost… Once you’re in that final, there’s only eight people; you beat half of them you’re fourth and one extra place you’ve got a medal, so that’s where I want to be, that’s what I want to try and get.”
Webb, who came in as a late replacement for the injured Max Burgin, was also convincing as he won his heat with 1:48.86. He told us afterwards:
“I’ve not set the world alight this season but, if I’ve been anything, I’ve been consistent. It doesn’t turn people’s heads, but I’ve run more sub-1:46s this season than I think I have ever ran before.”
It was a similar story in the women’s 400m, where all three athletes in red and white made it through to the semi-final.
Victoria Ohuruogu (Christine Ohuruogu, Newham and Essex Beagles) came through strongly in the home straight to place second in the opening heat. Her time of 51.34 would have been a PB before this season.
Ohuruogu, who was watched in the stadium by her sister Christine, the former Olympic, world and Commonwealth 400m champion, admitted:
“I felt a bit rusty, a few niggles, but happy to go through and on to the next one. But the crowd is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this, so packed out this early in the morning.”
Jodie Williams (Stu McMillan, Herts Phoenix), despite an injury-hit build-up which meant she was slowest in the field on this season’s times, was third automatic qualifier from her heat with a year’s best of 52.47.
Ama Pipi (Marco Airale, Enfield and Haringey) enjoyed a comfortable win in the final heat in 52.46. She said afterwards:
“I just wanted to have a controlled race and try and win it and I did that, so it’s good.”
Overnight heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Aston Moore, Liverpool Harriers) extended her lead after five events. However, England champion Jade O’Dowda (John Lane, Newham and Essex Beagles) is now her closest threat after adding 18cm to her PB in the long jump with 6.52m.
Johnson-Thompson was just a centimetre short of her season’s best as she leaped 6.33m to stay in pole position to defend her title. She now has 4718 points for a lead of 122 with just the javelin and 800m remaining this evening. Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Andover) jumped 6.19m to stay in fourth on 4510.
In the T11/12 100m, European bronze medallist Zac Shaw (Leon Baptiste, Cleethorpes) was second quickest automatic qualifier to progress to the final with 11.01 — 0.12 outside his best — as he won his heat.
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- Image by Mark Shearman