Stuart Weir wrote this piece on the challenges and drama in the 800 meter semi finals. Such events create excitement and keep fans glued to the track.
High Drama in 800
The semi-finals of the 800m were absorbing races, two semi-finals, six athletes in each with top three in each gaining a place in the final. No faster losers, just a straight race – finish in the first three or go home. It did local interest no harm that all three British entrants had made the semis in both.
The 12 women were from nine countries. The experienced, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, was always in control, never out of the top three, finishing second behind Renelle Lamote of France. The other semi saw the 22 year-old Mari Smith, in her first championship in a British vest claiming third place with a late run. Selina BÃ¼chel, from Switzerland, the 2015 and 2017 European Champion was fourth and out, along with Britain’s Adelle Tracey. Oskan-Clarke in the fastest in the final and must now have a great chance to improve on 2017’s European silver.
Mari Smith surprised a lot of people by coming second in the GB trials – she did not even have the qualifying time, something she achieved at the Muller Grand Prix the following week. She said of reaching the final: “I don’t think it has sunk in yet. It played out exactly how I’d dreamed – I just stayed with them long enough to show my strength in the last 200m. I just planned to try and stay with the group as long as I could, and then I had to make my move because I ended up wider than I thought I was going to be so I thought ‘now’s the time, now’s the time, time to dig!’ There’s only 6 in the final so I’ve done pretty well to get there. I’ll just be running for fun!”
Former World 1500m silver medallist, Hannah England, who trains with Smith tweeted: Hats off to @MariSmith141 fantastic race craft on top of hard work and massive talent gets her a @EuroAthletics final spot. Yet another product of @UBSportAthletic #baldarosarmy ”
There was high drama in the men’s races, where Guy Learmonth overtook Ireland’s Mark English and immediately seem to trip and fall. Of the other Brits, Jamie Webb ran a brilliant race to take second place in his heat but Joe Reid was run out of it.
English commented afterwards: “ItÂ´s ridiculous that someone can go on the inside and get away with it. Hopefully they will disqualify him. I felt really good which is frustrating but what can you do? He pushed in the inside of me and tried to claim it was my fault”.
Learmonth said afterwards: “It’s all a bit of a blur to me, I need to watch it and see exactly what happened. I knew there was a gap on the inside, it was slow through 400m and then we wound it up a bit. I saw the gap, I believe I got through but I think I got nudged either from behind or inside and went down. I don’t think it was an illegal move but I need to see it again. The guy moved into the outside lane and I just went for it. I don’t know whether it’s my fault or someone else’s fault.”
The judges decided it was Learmonth’s fault and upholding the Irish appeal, disqualified Learmonth and added English as a seventh runner to the final.