Tom Gale (club: Team Bath; coach: Denis Doyle), Alice Hopkins (Oxford City; Marcia Marriott) and the British men’s 4x400m relay team will all compete for medals at the European Under-23 Championships after coming through qualifying on the third morning in Gavle.
Gale, a European junior bronze medallist from 2017, cleared 2.16m to progress in the men’s high jump while 6.31m was enough for Hopkins to book her place in the medal showdown in the women’s long jump on a bright yet breezy morning in Sweden.
In the only track action involving the British team, the defending champion men’s 4x400m relay team, made up of Alex Haydock-Wilson (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow; Michael Baker), Joe Brier (Swansea; Matt Elias), Ellis Greatrex (Woodford Green Essex Ladies; Michael Baker) and Lee Thompson (Sheffield & Dearne; John Henson), comfortably booked a final spot after placing second in their heat.
Gale, who recorded a season’s best 2.26m in Marseille last week, entered qualification for the men’s high jump at 2.12m and got off to a rocky start with two failures however, once clear, he cruised over at 2.16m and was not required to jump again.
He said: “I feel great and I do feel in really good shape. My first two attempts at 2.12m were both failures because I was too close to the bar and that is because I am a lot fresher than I was prepared for. I know I am in really good shape, I know I can clear as high as my mind will let me more than anything.”
Hopkins was the first athlete in qualifying Group A of the women’s long jump to take to the runway and it was her first attempt of 6.31m that would prove enough for her to reach the final in fifth place overall.
She said: “It was a really good experience and I am happy to make the final. The swirling wind was a bit of a challenge and hopefully I can improve next time out. I am fourth and anything can happen in the final with six jumps and I am excited for it. I’m glad it has started after four days of waiting and I can’t wait to finish it.”
The sole track action of the morning session saw the British men’s 4x400m quartet comfortably cruise into the final on the closing evening tomorrow night. Haydock-Wilson ran a great opening leg, passing to Brier who held his own to keep the Brits in the lead at the halfway stage.
Germany would go in front but Greatrex ensured they never ran clear on leg three and handed to Thompson, who stalked his rival on anchor but relaxed as the line approached with automatic qualification secure – second place in the heat in 3:05.93 and second overall.
Greatrex said: “I am happy with it, all the boys ran really well, it was tough in the heat and how hot it was but we all did really well. I was closing back on the home straight which is how I run my race anyway, so in terms of execution personally I am happy – we couldn’t ask for much more.”
Thompson added: “You can expect a lot more from us in the final. We are here to defend the title first and foremost. We have got the team to do it, we are much stronger than two years ago. The boys did a good job today, obviously we wanted to win the heat but we will be going again tomorrow with the full squad and we’ll show them what we are made of.”
Meanwhile in qualifying in the men’s discus, British pair George Armstrong (Newham & Essex Beagles; Zane Duquemin) and George Evans (Colin McCulloch; Shaftesbury Barnet) both narrowly failed to make the final. Armstrong threw a best of 52.45m for 14th overall while Evans recorded 51.90m for 16th.
Action continues this afternoon from 15:55 BST. The timetable for the championships can be found via https://bit.ly/2JurM5T.
British Athletics medal tally (3):
Oliver Bromby – Men’s 100m
Cameron Fillery – Men’s 110m Hurdles
Emile Cairess – Men’s 10,000m