Johnson-Thompson builds heptathlon lead on Gold Coast day six

Following a strong day one, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Liverpool Harriers, Bertrand Valcin) maintained her position on top of the heptathlon standings thanks to a 6.50m long jump and a 40.46m javelin.

It leaves the 25-year-old on 5448 points with just one event, the 800 metres, remaining. That’s a lead of 174 points over Canada’s Nina Schultz.

18-year-old Niamh Emerson (Amber Valley & Erewash, David Feeney), the 2015 Commonwealth Youth champion in the high jump, continued her progress, with a 6.06m long jump, just 15cm shy of her pb, then consecutive personal bests in the first two rounds of the javelin. Her 40.34m throw in the second round was her first time ever over 40 metres.

Emerson sits in fourth place overall on 5110 points and will relish the 800m.

In the men’s 4x100m heats, a quartet of Reuben Arthur (Enfield and Haringey, Ryan Freckleton), Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet, Glen Mills), Richard Kilty (Middlesbrough (Mandale)) and Harry Aikenes-Aryeetey (Sutton, Benke Blomkvist) sped to a 48.15 clocking to qualify impressively for Saturday’s final.

Arthur, making his senior championships debut following a late call up to the team only days before departure for the Gold Coast, produced a solid start before passing the baton to Hughes, who flew down the back straight, making up metres on the Jamaican team who were on the outside.

Kilty ran the third leg and used all of his relay experience to ensure the baton was safely passed to Aikines-Aryeetey, who pulled clear down the home straight.

It was a happy morning for Hughes following his disqualification from Thursday’s 200m final.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night but I’m just glad we got the job done,” he said. “I’m proud to be part of this team and I did my very best for them.”

“It makes me very hungry now. The guys have been very supportive. I am giving my best going forward for them, to be the best of my ability to help us win a medal. It would be very special to win a medal tomorrow but nothing is certain; we have to go out and execute it.”

It was a happy morning, too, for Arthur, who savoured the experience of lining up with athletes he’d previously watched from afar.

“These are people I've watched on tv going through the ranks,” he smiled. “I remember where I was when I was watching Harry run the last leg in Berlin, I remember watching Richard win World Indoors in 2014. To be in amongst that is good and a good indication that I'm moving in the right direction. It's good that you meet people and they're really nice to get along with.”

A quartet of Matt Hudson-Smith (Birchfield, Lance Braumann), Dwayne Cowan (Hercules Wimbledon, Lloyd Cowan), Rabah Yousif (Newham and Essex Beagles, Carol Williams) and Jack Green (Kent AC, June Plews) lined up for the heats of the 4x400m, but, just 50 metres into the race, Hudson-Smith pulled up having suffered an injury.

Cowan offered his commiserations to his teammate and reflected on what might have been:

“It is very frustrating and I’m just sorry for Matt. He’s in really good shape so it was a good opportunity for us to get the gold. Our team was in good shape; Jack nearly won a medal in the hurdles so he was looking strong too.”

“There was something there for us, so that makes it even more disappointing.”

With four athletes to qualify from each of two 1500m heats, Charlie Da’vall Grice (Brighton Phoenix, Jon Bigg) produced a strong tactical display to qualify for the final.

Staying within a few metres of the lead, he entered the home straight as part of a quartet of athletes that pulled clear of the field and looked full of running as he placed fourth in 3:47.19.

“It was all about getting the right tactical position and I managed to do that,” he confirmed. “I’ve got it done in the heats so I’m excited to get back out there for the final.”

“I definitely want a medal. I had to go back to the drawing board last year, which was a bitter pill to swallow. But I have been putting the work in over the winter and it appears to be paying off; we’ll see in the final.”

Athletics resumes this evening at 19:25 local time (10:25 UK). Full results can be found here.