Solo 4x100m run knocks out Olympic champions Italy, while Brits enjoy smooth progress at European Championships

The morning session of day five (Aug 19) at the European Athletics Championships ended with the bizarre spectacle of Turkey qualifying for the final of the men’s 4x100m relay – by running entirely on their own!

Having protested they had been impeded by Finland in the earlier heat, the Turkish line-up were given a second chance – and had the track entirely to themselves for their lunchtime assignment. They had to beat 39.02 to progress and clocked 38.89 – a time which knocked out reigning Olympic champions Italy, who had been in the final fastest losers spot.

Germany led the way in the heats with a very slick national record of 37.97, while the British team of Jeremiah Azu (10.63), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (9.16), Jona Efoloko (9.37) and Tommy Ramdhan (9.25) qualified very easily after winning their heat in 38.41.

Even without Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita, Britain qualified fastest with a safe and sensible 42.83 thanks to a team of Asha Philip (11.44), Imani Lansiquot (10.40), Bianca Williams (10.62) and Ashleigh Nelson (10.37). Spain ran 42.95 in that heat and France won heat two in 43.24.

In the 4x400m, Britain qualified for the men’s final but it took two very good final legs after they risked resting Matthew Hudson-Smith.

Joseph Briar (46.58) ran a strong first 300m but lost ground and, after a 45.58 from Rio Mitcham, Britain were well over 10 metres back but Lewis Davey ran the fastest of the stage. His 45.16 closed right up on the top three, while individual bronze medallist Alex Haydock-Wilson ran a controlled 45.04 and finished third in 3:02.36 behind the Czech Republic (3:02.07) and France (3:02.09).

A well balanced Spanish squad won heat one in a faster 3:01.27 and Netherlands (3:01.57) with Liemarvin Bonevacia running 44.76 on leg two, were second.
Defending champions Belgium only squeezed through as fastest losers aided by a 44.27 anchor from Dylan Borlee but Poland despite a 44.46 anchor by Karol Zalewski, failed to advance in finishing fifth.

The British women’s team easily won their heat in 3:23.79 (close to the mark they achieved in winning world bronze last month and the fastest ever qualifying time in the Europeans), despite missing Victoria Ohuruogu and Jodie Williams. They led all the way through Zoey Clark (51.21), Ama Pipi (50.80), Nicole Yeargin (50.75) and Laviai Nielsen (easing back 51.03).

Netherlands won heat two with Femke Bol absent in 3:25.84 while the Irish line-up broke the national record with 3:26.06 thanks to a squad of Sophie Becker (52.21), Phil Healy (51.78), Rhasidat Adeleke (a stunning 49.49) and Sharlene Mawdsley (52.58).

Keely Hodgkinson (Getty)

In the women’s 800m semi-finals, there was also safe passage for all three British athletes. Keely Hodgkinson won her race at a canter and looked in control with 200m splits of 28.16, 32.64, 30.28 and 29.59 for a time of 2:00.67 which saw her finish three metres clear of Poland’s Anna Weilgosz. Ukrainian Natalia Krol, winner of the last two European titles, was a non-qualifying seventh in 2:01.84.

The second semi was won impressively by Renelle Lamote, who had been second to Krol the last two championships, in 2:00.23. In second Jemma Reekie (30.07 last 200m) squeezed through on the inside and finished full of running in second with 2:00.30, while Alex Bell came third in 2:00.53 after a strong last 100m.

In the field, Briton Morgan Lake was one of 13 high jumpers who went over 1.87m and made the final with a second-time clearance. Also over at the second time – and on her opening height – was event favourite Yaroslava Mahuchikh.

Laura Zialor failed her opening height of 1.78m.

Not a single athlete came close, meanwhile, to the automatic men’s javelin qualifying mark of 83.50m in the damp conditions as Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch led the way with 81.81m.

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