KJT back on top spot – catch up with days 1 and 2 at the World Athletics Championships

One year out from the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the British team have gotten off to a great start at the World Championships in Budapest.

After a hugely successful recent Para Athletics World Championships in Paris, the team have big boots to fill as we give the lowdown on how GB&NI have fared so far.

Day 1

Day 1 of the championships did not disappoint, seeing the first medal secured for Great Britain in the mixed 4x400m relay. Mixed 4x400m world silver medallists

Starting the morning with a National Record (3:11.19), the British quartet of Rio Mitcham (Birchfield/Loughborough, Leon Baptiste), Laviai Nielsen (Enfield and Haringey), Joe Brier (Swansea, Matt Elias) and Yemi Mary John (Woodford Green Essex Ladies, Alan James) sailed through to the final taking place later in the evening, second fastest. After an unfortunate niggle for Joe Brier, it was Newham and Essex Beagles’ Lewis Davey who stepped in to help the team secure a stunning silver with another British record (3:11.06), after a fall from the Dutch team.

After the race, Nielsen said:

“Our team coach Martyn Rooney has been incredible and he said to me, I’m one of the more experienced members of this team so I had a responsibility to pep talk these guys.

“I know what it’s like to win a medal and how it can change your life. I told these guys that we are capable and we are strong enough so let’s go get it and we did.”

The first day of the championships saw the heptathletes in action with Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Liverpool Harriers, Aston Moore) beginning her campaign.

After a solid first morning in the 100m hurdles (13.50) and the high jump (1.86m) Johnson-Thompson moved up to fourth place in the standings with the shot put and the 200m still to contest. Throwing her third furthest shot put of 13.64, Katarina managed to add another 770 points to her tally. Finishing the first day of her competition with the 200m, Katarina ran a superb bend, holding out along the straight to secure 23.48 to secure second place overall, just 93 points behind the pre-event favourite American, Anna Hall. Speaking on her first day, Kat said:

“I just really wanted to attack that 200m, maybe I attacked it a bit too much around the bend as I was swimming a bit by the end, but it is nice to get a win and end on a high.

“It’s all very close. I don’t think it will be a high scoring heptathlon, but it is very competitive and exciting, so who knows.”

Away from the heptathlon, it was a dramatic women’s 10,000m which saw England’s Jess Judd (Blackburn Harriers, Mick Judd) run a fantastically brave race in tough, hot conditions. Sticking with the pack and kicking as the pace increased, Jess finished in a fantastic 8th place in a highly strategic race with a time of 31:35.38. We caught up with an ecstatic Jess after the race:

“When I crossed the line, I was so emotional, I just couldn’t believe it. I thought last year (2022 Worlds) was good but this year I was a completely different runner.

“When I crossed the line, I was upset I didn’t win a medal! But I am just absolutely shocked to be honest. I couldn’t have ever imagined it going that well.”

Jess Warner-Judd at World Champs

As is expected on the first day of competition, lots of heats and semi-finals took place, with many British athletes securing their semi and final spots across the 1500m and 100m.

Jazmin Sawyers (Stoke AC, Aston Moore), Lawrence Okoye (Croydon Harriers, Zane Duquemin) and Scott Lincoln (City of York, Paul Wilson) unfortunately just missed out on the qualifying distances for the long jump, discus and shot put respectively and did not progress.

Day 2

Day 2 saw the tussle for the lead in the women’s heptathlon continue with a fantastic leap of 6.54m from Katarina to see her take top spot by 19 points after five events. Previously considered one of her weaker events, Johnson-Thompson demonstrated exactly why she is one of the world’s best, remaining composed under pressure to throw a brand-new PB of 46.14m – heading into the 800m in first place with just a three second buffer to fantastic 800m runner, Anna Hall. And what a race it was! Laser focus from the gun, Katarina didn’t let Hall out of her sights crossing the line with a big PB of 2:05.63, and most importantly that gold medal and World Champion status regained with 6740 points.

“I’ve actually got no words. I can’t believe it. It’s like being in a dream. I have been thinking about this for months and months and nobody else could see the vision apart from me and my team. I’m just so happy that it’s come true. It’s a dream come true to do it again.”

The medals didn’t stop there, as Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet, Glen Mills) secured his first individual world medal in a highly competitive 100m final. Not only that, but he also became the first British man to achieve this feat in 20 years. Breaking the British record twice just this year, Hughes has been in excellent form ahead of the championships and this showed as he dipped to beat training partner Jamaica’s Oblique Seville in a time of 9.88, with Noah Lyle’s taking the title in an equal world lead of 9.83. After the race, we asked what this meant to Zharnel:

“I’m super, super, super grateful right now. Thank you to my team, thank you to my coach, thank you to Linford [Christie] round there as well, he gave me a talk. This one’s for you guys back home and means the world to me.

“My heart is full with emotions, I’m just super grateful. I’m glad I finished healthy and believed in myself. I honestly wanted a gold medal but hey, leaving this championship with a medal around my neck I’m so grateful for.”

Zharnel Hughes World 100m bronze medallist

Zharnel will back for the 200m later this week!

Also in action was England’s Katie Snowden (Herne Hill, Stephen Haas) who secured her spot in the 1500m final on Wednesday, smashing her PB at the same time (3:56.72). She will advance alongside Scotland’s Laura Muir and Wales’ Melissa Courtney-Bryant.

Over the 400m it was a similar story with Britain’s Ama Pipi (Enfield and Haringey, Linford Christie), Victoria Ohuruogu (Newham and Essex Beagles, Christine Ohuruogu) and Matt Hudson-Smith (Birchfield Harriers) with a season’s best also progressing through to the next round.

Across the sprints, Daryll Neita (Cambridge Harriers, Marco Airale) and Dina Asher-Smith (Blackheath and Bromley, John Blackie) sailed through to the semi-finals of the 100m whilst Imani-Lara Lansiquot suffered a false start.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, Tade Ojora (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) finished first in his heat (13.32) to advance to the semi-final.

Featured image by World Athletics/Getty Images. Jessica Warner-Judd & Zharnel Hughes pictures by Mark Shearman

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