Olympic24: KJT is European champion while Yarnold leads way

07 March 2015 / 09:59

Katarina Johnson-Thompson fell just shy of a world record as she claimed pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships while Lizzy Yarnold has one hand on the skeleton world title. Here’s our review of the last 24 hours.

  • Katarina Johnson-Thompson wins pentathlon gold in Prague while Lucy Hatton and Serita Solomon claim 60m hurdles silver and bronze respectively.
  • Lizzy Yarnold holds the lead after the first two runs at the skeleton World Championsship after Dominic Parsons finishes seventh
  • Andy Murray and James Ward give Great Britain a 2-0 lead over USA in the Davis Cup
  • Chris and Gabby Adcock and Rajiv Ouseph all crash out of All England Open Badminton Championships at quarter-final stage
  • British Lionhearts suffer heavy defeat to China Dragons

Johnson-Thompson so close to world record

Katarina Johnson-Thompson set a new British record in securing her first major senior title with pentathlon gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.

The 22-year-old ran a personal best of 8.18 seconds in the 60m hurdles and cleared 1.95m in the high jump to lead on 2,259 points after two events.

A 12.35m throw in the shot put dropped her to second but a 6.89m leap won the long jump and an 800m time 2:12.78 minutes set a new British best as ended up with a Championship record score of 5000.

This broke Jessica Ennis-Hill's record of 4,965 and Johnson-Thompson became just the second athlete to score 5,000 points in the pentathlon.

However, she finished 13 points behind Ukrainian Nataliya Dobrynska's three-year-old world record, having required a run of 2:11.86 in the 800m to break it.

"This is a huge breakthrough," she said. "But I am full of regret from the 800m.

"I thought I could easily run that time and maybe took it for granted. It could've been a different story. I should've been able to do that."

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Morgan Lake finished ninth but she had the consolation of breaking Johnson-Thompson's British junior record as she finished on 4527 points.

There was more for Great Britain to celebrate on day one in the Czech Republic as Lucy Hatton and Serita Solomon won silver and third in the 60m hurdles.

Both posted personal bests – Hatton coming home in 7.90 seconds while Solomon finished in 7.93 – but neither could get the better of eventual winner Alina Talay of Belarus, who triumphed in 7.85.

Meanwhile, captain Lawrence Clarke finished fifth in the 60m hurdles final behind a French one-two-three led by Pascal Martinot-Lagarde.

Jenny Meadows reached the 800m semi-final by winning her heat in 2:02.59 minutes and in the women's 400m 20-year-old Seren Bundy-Davies, who leads the European rankings, came through a photo-finish to reach her showpiece.

Yarnold leads at halfway stage of World Championships

Lizzy Yarnold insists she is not getting carried away despite leading at the halfway stage of the skeleton World Championships in Winterberg, Germany.

Having collected European gold already this year to add to the Olympic and World Cup titles she claimed in a stellar 2014, Yarnold arrived in Germany with her sights set on the only major crown yet to find its way into her grasp.

Her previous best at a World Championships was the bronze medal she won back in 2012, but if her first two runs of this year’s event is anything to go by then that could all be about to change.

Yarnold posted the two fastest times of the day – including a new track record of 57.44 seconds in her first run – as she came home in 1:55.06 minutes to hold the lead overnight.

But with two runs still to go and Canadian Elisabeth Vathje just 0.07 seconds behind in second, Yarnold is keeping the champagne well and truly on ice.

“It’s been a great race so far,” she said. “But nothing has been decided yet, there are still two runs to go tomorrow. Things could really get exciting.

Currently sitting third in the standings 0.39 seconds behind is German Jacqueline Loelling, but there is still plenty for Great Britain to celebrate with all three of their sliders in the top ten.

Rose McGrandle is the next highest Brit behind Yarnold in sixth, while Laura Deas rounded off a great first day as she is four places back.

Meanwhile, in the final two runs of the men’s event, Dominic Parsons finished an impressive seventh with a total time of 3:45.99 minutes.

Ed Smith didn't complete his third or fourth runs due to injury while David Swift finished 22nd.

Murray and Ward build early Davis Cup lead

James Ward performed heroics to follow in Andy Murray’s footsteps and give Great Britain a 2-0 lead after the first day of action of their Davis Cup clash with the USA in Glasgow.

Murray, playing in Scotland for the first time since 2011, got the ball rolling as he broke world number 47 Donald Young’s serve seven times en route to a 6-1 6-1 4-6 6-2 victory.

However Ward found himself trailing John Isner two sets to none as the Americans threatened to level things up in the second match.

But the world number 111 dug deep and won the next three sets 6-3 7-6 15-13 to claim a memorable victory just three minutes shy of six hours.

"This is by far the best atmosphere I've ever been part of in the Davis Cup,” Ward said.

"I would prefer it if I didn't have to play these five-set matches all the time but the crowd was incredible and really helped."

Lionhearts suffer heavy defeat in China

Super heavyweight Joe Joyce maintained his progress towards qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio with his fourth win of this World Series of Boxing season, but it was another tough night for the British Lionhearts as they lost 4-1 to the China Dragons in Sanya.

The top ranked super-heavyweight boxer at the end of the regular season will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

And his win over Vladan Babic means Joyce is currently top of WSB’s super-heavyweight rankings with his two main rivals, Croatia’s Filiip Hrgovic, who represents the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, and Arlanbek Makhmvdov of the Azerbaijan Baku Fires still to box this weekend.

Joyce’s first round stoppage of Babic was the highpoint of the evening for a Lionhearts team that was unfortunate to be on the wrong end of three split decisions.

At welterweight another strong performance by Ekow Essuman went unrewarded as he lost to Wei Liu. 

The same was true of the light-heavyweight contest which saw John Newell lose out despite a fine performance against Yibulayin Abudureyimu, with one judge scoring all five rounds in favour of the Lionheart.

Defeats for the LIonhearts two overseas boxers, Kelvin De La Nieve, who lost the flyweight contest on a split, and France’s Oualid Belaoura, who was defeated unanimously at lightweight, ensured the China Dragons avenged the defeat inflicted upon them by the Lionhearts in the reverse fixture at York Hall back in January.

Adcocks and Ouseph exit All England

Chris Adcock admits producing an incredibly gutsy display is scant consolation after he and wife Gabby suffered a “devastating” quarter-final loss at the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham.

The Adcocks lost a final-set thriller, going down 21-14, 18-21, 21-19 to fourth seeds Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir in the mixed doubles at the Barclaycard Arena on Friday.

The Brits were slow out of the blocks as the Indonesian duo, who have won the All England title for the past three years, raced into a 5-0 lead before securing the first set in relatively comfortable fashion.

But the Adcocks battled back, with Chris’ overhead smash particularly effective, edging the second 21-18 and reaching 18-18 in the decider before the reigning champions broke the home crowd’s hearts.

And while Chris knows there will be plenty to build on in the long-run, he claims he is almost inconsolable not to pull out the victory in the short-term.

“It is devastating to lose,” he said. “We got ourselves into a winning position after a really tough start – we worked really hard to get there but they took their points at the end.

“It’s hard to think back at the exact point but we did have chances. You just can’t make those errors at key points – they didn’t and we did. We’re really gutted right now.

“At the time we were very happy to bounce back and win the second set and in time – a few hours, days, weeks, years – we might feel better about it but at the minute it’s quite hard to reflect on what we did well.

“Obviously we did some things well because we pushed a pair that haven’t lost here in four years, right to the end.

“And I think you saw from their reaction that we really had them scared. I genuinely thought we had them.”

This meant that Rajiv Ouseph was Britain’s last hope in Birmingham, but he lost to Japan’s Sho Sasaki 21-14 21-11 to also exit at the quarter-final stage.

And while he was disappointed not to capitalise on a golden opportunity to make the semi-finals, Ouseph insists that reaching the All England last eight for the first time means his tournament can be viewed as a success.

“It probably wasn’t my greatest performance out there,” said Ouseph. “I definitely didn’t replicate my performances from the last two days and I think it has probably caught up with me a little bit.

“I haven’t been able to train fully over the past few weeks, so it was good that I was able to play two back-to-back matches but I think this was maybe one game too far.

“I think it has been a successful week for me – looking at the draw, I was probably expected to go out in the first round, so to reach the quarters is a good achievement.

“It’s something I can hopefully reproduce in the future. The crowd were really good but they were probably expecting a little bit more from me.

“I wasn’t able to produce but it was still a great experience for me to get through a couple of matches and to participate on the Friday. It’s given me a taste, so I want to come back and do the same next year.”

© Sportsbeat 2015