An eventful night on the Gold Coast saw English athletes compete in seven events in conditions that ranged from warm and humid to torrential rain in the space of three hours.
Andrew Pozzi (Stratford Upon Avon, Benke Blomkvist) finished sixth in a strong 110m hurdles final that saw Jamaica’s Ronald Levy take the gold ahead of teammate Hansle Parchment.
Pozzi, who took the world indoor title over 60m hurdles in Birmingham last month, drove hard from the blocks but hit the first hurdle and thereafter struggled for rhythm. Another blow at hurdle eight saw any chance of a medal fade and he settled for equal sixth with Barbados’ Shane Brathwaite in a time of 13.53.
“After hitting the first hurdle, I just tried to stay calm and recover,” the 25-year-old explained. “I felt like I did a reasonable job but when I got to halfway, I was just rushing the hurdling rather than doing it properly and ultimately it meant I got a bit close to some. It just wasn’t good enough. Timing and rhythm is everything in hurdles and you just can’t get away with making mistakes.”
In the men’s T54 1500m, Nathan Maguire (Halton and Frodsham, Steven Hoskins) placed a fine fourth in 3:12.73, while teammate Dillon Labrooy (Weir Archer Academy, Jenny Archer) took fifth just 0.09 behind him.
The English pair had been led out in the race by a third Team England athlete, Rich Chiassaro (Harlow AC, Jenni Banks), but the 2017 bronze medalist over 400m at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships suffered the heartbreak of a puncture just 300m into the race.
The 36-year-old had put himself into an excellent position after 100m, but he faded to 8th after holding on to his lead for as long as possible.
“It was an argy-bargy kind of race where you just try and not get boxed in,” said the 20-year-old Maguire. “It was a bit annoying – people kept coming on my outside and I was having to fight them off a little bit. It just came down to the final sprint. Someone came round me and got me boxed and I couldn’t get out quick enough to be able to make my move. The sprint at the end was great and the guys were phenomenal. 3rd, 4th and 5th came across the line within 0.3 of a second, so it was nice to be able to share that with Dillon.”
Labrooy was more than satisfied with his night’s work, having aimed for a top five placing.
“It was pretty good – I came in hoping to finish top-five,” he confirmed. “I just got boxed in over the last 250m. I probably could have been higher, but I’ll just have to learn from it and try and improve next time. My tactics were just trying to keep up with whoever was trying to go with Rich at the beginning and then do my best to get round the pack at the end.”
Chiassaro reflected on what might have been.
“My tyre exploded after 300m – I couldn’t believe it. I tried to hold my pace, but over the last 300m I just couldn’t keep it going. The chair wasn’t holding the bend properly. It could have been anything that caused it, I just don’t know, it’s never happened to me before. I’m a bit gutted as I know the sorts of times I can do, but it’s just one of those things.”
Late fling sees Lane surge to sixth
A battling two days of competition saw John Lane (Sheffield and Dearne, Toni Minichiello) place a creditable sixth in the decathlon, thanks in part to a personal best 43.79m in the discus and a 4.80m pole vault on day two to go with strong performances in the 100m and long jump on day one.
The 29-year-old, who finished in fourth place four years ago, finished on 7529 points, 774 behind the winner, Lindon Victor of Grenada. It was a surprise gold medal for the Caribbean nation after the pre-event favourite, Damian Warner of Canada, failed to record a height in the vault.
“It’s been up and down, as most decathlons are,” reflected Lane. “But I'm happy to get to the end, happy to finish – I’ve no idea what I scored. I’ve had a few little niggles along the way, but that’s about it really.
“I got a PB in the discus – it was one of those ones where I thought I’d let every bit of frustration out and I just caught a good one. It’s been coming for a long time in that event, I just never seemed to have done it.
“Overall I’m happy. I struggled to do some of the things I wanted to do with some of the little niggles, but no excuses. I had a great time. It was brutal – only eight of us ended up finishing. It’s not uncommon but it’s been an odd competition.”
Sarah McDonald (Birchfield, David Harmer) was the highest place English athlete in the women’s 1500m, a race that saw South Africa’s Caster Semenya take the title in a Games record 4:00.71, which was also a personal best.
McDonald finished 8th in 4:05.77 after Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech set a searing early pace, presumably trying to negate Semenya’s finishing kick.
Katie Snowden (Herne Hill, Rob Denmark) was 11th in 4:06.55, while Jess Judd (Chelmsford, Mick Judd) was 14th in 4:08.82.
“I had nothing to lose today, so I just had to execute my race,” said McDonald. “I’ve got the European standard, so it’s good. I was reinstated as it was decided that my race was impeded by the other athlete’s fall yesterday, so it was really a free shot for me. I’m happy with how everything went considering yesterday.”
Snowden was less satisfied with her run: “I’m a bit disappointed if I’m honest. Although I was only a fastest loser in the heat, I actually felt quite good in it. But I just couldn’t go with that pace today and it went out from the gun.
“It’s great to be mixing with these girls. It’s my first proper champs at senior level and it’s so promising to have a training partner with a bronze medal. I just need to go back now and keep working to get in good shape for the season.”
Sophie Hitchon (Blackburn Harriers,Tore Gustafsson) recorded three no throws in a women’s hammer final won by New Zealand’s Julia Ratcliffe with a throw of 69.94m.
The 26-year-old Olympic bronze medalist reflected on the competition: “It just wasn’t quite there today. The warm-ups were really good but it just didn’t happen. I’ve been working on a new technique and I’ve got to keep working on it because it is definitely the way forward. When I land it, it will go very far. It’s track and field; it happens sometimes – I didn’t execute so it didn’t quite work.”
“It’s part of the sport. I was utterly devastated after the world final last year but I told myself after London that I wasn’t going to cry. No one in 2014 thought I was going to win a medal in Rio, so two years out from Tokyo, I’ll be ready for it.”
Emerson on track ahead of marathon
In the women’s T54 1500m, Nikki Emerson (British Wheelchair Athletics Association, Ian Thompson) enjoyed a return to track racing following a spell focusing on the roads.
The 29-year-old settled into the pack in the early stages, but wasn’t able to respond to the surges of Australian pair Madison de Rozario and Angela Ballard.
Still, it was a satisfying night’s work for Emerson, who will compete in Sunday’s marathon.
“I’m really pleased,” she said. “I think the race showed up the really obvious bits I need to work on. The girls used the tactic of very much picking the speed up and then slowing down and I wasn’t able to keep up on the sprint. So it’s great to having something to learn from for, fingers crossed, Europeans later this year.”
“We said that the 1500m here could be very much like the first 1500m of the marathon – because of how the course is, the Australian girls will be trying to drop people, so I know I’ve got three days now to work on that very short, sharp kick. I’ve not track-raced in a long time, so it’s easy to forget that these girls are world class and I’ll need to be on it on Sunday.”
In the women’s 400m semi finals, Anyika Onuora (Liverpool Harriers, Rana Reider) and Emily Diamond (Bristol and West, Jared Deacon) bowed out following fourth place finishes in their respective semi finals, but both were happy with improved showings from their heat performances.
33-year-old Onuora battled hard in the home straight, only allowing Australia’s Morgan Mitchell to pip her to third spot in the final strides, as she recorded 52.76.
Diamond, a bronze medallist over 4x400m at the IAAF World Championships last year, clocked 52.02 to finish as the fastest non-qualifier for the final.
Day 4 gets underway at 19:00 (AUS) / 10:00am (UK). Click here for full results.