03 March 2007
Gardener and Pickering the best of the rest
The afternoon session on day 2 of the Championships featured a number of semi-finals, along with the continuation of the men’s heptathlon. The highlight for the home crowd was the sight of Jason Gardener and Craig Pickering qualifying one and two for tomorrow’s final of the men’s 60m. Their training partner Ryan Scott also made it through, as did Ireland’s Paul Hession.
The main competition to the British contingent is likely to come from Ronald Pognon of France, who matched Pickering’s time of 6.58secs in finishing second to Gardener in his semi-final. Sunday’s final starts at 1620GMT.
In the women’s equivalent, defending champion Kim Gevaert set the best time in the world this year – 7.10secs – in qualifying for the final.
“I didn't expect to do so well,” said the Belgian. “I'm really happy to be in the final because I haven't done very much in this competition. I am confident and hope that everything will go well for me, but I know that I cannot make any mistakes tomorrow.”
Britain’s Jeanette Kwakye was the second fastest qualifier – setting a personal best of 7.17secs in the process. Ekateríni Thanou from Greece also qualified for the final which goes off at 1605GMT on Sunday.
The stand-out performances in the men’s 800m semi-finals came from Miguel Quesada from Spain and the Netherlands’ Arnaud Okken. Britain’s Richard Hill had made the running for much of Quesada’s heat, but faded towards the end to finish fifth – outside the qualifying places for the final. Ahead of him, the Spaniard finished strongly in 1min 48.62secs making him the fastest qualifier.
“It was not easy today. Richard went out early and ran well but I was able to come back. I know I am strong in the last lap. Now, I must relax and not worry too much about the final. It can be hard to enjoy the races sometimes but tomorrow I must focus if I want to win,” said Quesada.
Okken, meanwhile, controlled the other semi from the gun and won comfortably in a time of 1min 49.65secs. “Today is just about getting through to the final and this is all I wanted to do, but it was good to also win this race as well,” he said. The final is at 1510GMT on Sunday.
In the women’s 800m, Russia’s Oksana Zebrozhek and the Ukraine’s Tetyana Petlyuk were impressive in winning their respective semi-finals. “I am very happy to win this race. My time was also very fast. I tried to save a bit of energy for my last lap and was able to come through,” said Zebrozhek.
They will be joined in tomorrow’s final (which gets underway at 1455GMT) by the British pair Marilyn Okoro and Jenny Meadows. Okoro clocked a personal best of 1min 59.87secs in coming third in her heat, whilst Meadows was second behind Petlyuk in 2mins 00.79secs.
The potential of a Spanish one-two-three in the men’s 1500m is very much on after Juan Carlos Higuero, Arturo Casado and Sergio Gallardo finished as three of the fastest qualifiers from today’s semi-finals. Casado looked in particularly good form in winning his race, whilst Ireland’s James Nolan and Britain’s James Thie also made it through. “The race was a good one to win. It was quite fast and I'm feeling good for the final. That makes three Spanish into the final, which is very good for us,” said Higuero. The final takes place on Sunday at 1550GMT.
And finally, day one of the men’s heptathlon finished with defending champion Roman Sebrle in control having opened up a 102 point lead over Aleksandr Pogorelov of Russia. Showing no ill effects from his recent training accident, the Olympic champion from the Czech Republic won three out of four of the day’s events – long jump, high jump and shot put – to pull clear. Pogorelov himself is 101 points ahead of Germany’s Jacob Minah who currently occupies the bronze medal position. The final placings will be decided after tomorrow’s 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1000m.