England’s sprinters, middle-distance runners, jumpers, throwers and all-rounders were on form again at the Commonwealth Games as Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) was among the impressive performers.
On the third morning at the Alexander Stadium, the full crowds enjoyed another perfect record of home-team qualification.
Hughes and Adam Gemili (Blackheath and Bromley) were both a class apart in their respective 200m heats on their way to the semi-finals.
First, Hughes took advantage of a 3.4m/sec following wind to post 20.30, clearly not full-out as he won by more than half a second.
The Englishman is clearly pleased to be back in his preferred discipline after not making the final over 100m at the World Championships last month.
“I’m enjoying myself,” he told the BBC afterwards: “This is my main event. The crowd is amazing. It absolutely blew my mind when they said my name; it gave me the energy I needed.
“What happened in Oregon is behind me now. This is my main focus. I’m here, home crowd and I’m looking forward to participating well."
“There is a lot more there. As you can see, I was having a nice stroll in the park.”
Hughes was quickest of all the qualifiers but Gemili needed only 20.92 (+0.1) to easily win his heat six.
“We’re just trying to get through with as little energy as possible,” he said after sailing through. “I feel like I did that. Quite comfortable heat into the semi. So tomorrow I’ve got to run my heart out and I’ll give it my best.”
England’s two 1500m runners, Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield Harriers) and Matt Stonier (Chris and Sonia McGeorge, Invicta East Kent), both made it through to their final.
Giles, though better known as an 800m runner, looked comfortably safe in gaining the last of five automatic slots, more than a quarter of a second ahead of his nearest challenger. His time was 3:37.98. He said afterwards:
“I thoroughly enjoyed mixing with those boys, especially over 1500m… It was fun.”
In the much slower second heat, Stonier showed tactical nous to come home behind only world champion Jake Wightman of Scotland, as he clocked 3:48.50, finishing ahead of world indoor bronze medallist Abel Kipsang of Kenya.
Stonier, who has improved his PB by more than three seconds this season, said: “It was a really tactical race… I just had to position myself. I knew the slower it is, the nearer the front you have to be. Some gaps opened up and it was just a flat-out last lap.”
Anna Purchase (Mohamad Saatara, Nottingham AC) was third best in hammer qualifying with 66.45m. While one of the favourites, Lauren Bruce of New Zealand, suffered three no-throws, Britain’s second furthest ever thrower made sure she produced the goods in the opening round. However, she admitted after two further fouls: “It was a little bit rocky. I had trouble finding my throw, but obviously we have the finals on Saturday and I can figure it out for then and it’ll be all good.
England will have three athletes in the women’s high jump final after competent performances from Emily Borthwick (Robbie Grabarz, Wigan & District), Morgan Lake (Robbie Grabarz, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) and Laura Zialor (Julian Reid/Jade Surman, Marshall Milton Keynes).
Although the automatic qualification was 1.90m, the competition was declared over after 1.81m whittled the field down to the requisite 12 athletes.
Lake, who won silver in these Games four years ago, came in at 1.76m and had first-time successes there and at 1.81m. Zialor, who competed at the recent World Athletics Championships for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also had a perfect record as she jumped at 1.71m, 1.76m and 1.81m. Borthwick bounced back from one failure at 1.76m, with a first-time clearance at 1.81m.
Harry Kendall (David Hull, Tonbridge) lies sixth in the decathlon behind defending champion Lindon Victor of Grenada after three events.
The England champion opened with 11.25 (0.0) in the 100m but was then much happier with his 7.10m (+2.2) long jump, which is three centimetres below his outright PB. After improving round by round in the shot put, his 13.62m gave him 2349 points – 163 short of the athlete in the bronze medal position. The high jump and 400m will be up this evening.
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- Image by Mark Shearman