The sprints are always a draw in the championships. There were some innovations in this championships, and Stuart Weir writes on how athletic fans took to the changes in sprint rounds.
Jan Volko (Slovakia) won the 60m in 6.60 beating Emre Barnes of Turkey by one hundredth of a second. He said of the race: “I donÂ´t remember much of that final. I was running and running and then suddenly I turned around and my name was on the board and I just felt amazing. I got the gold but the talent around me was incredible”.
Richard Kilty (Great Britain), defending champion, was fourth in 6.66. Kilty did not make the final of the GB championships and was not selected for the GB team – he was still getting back to full fitness after Achilles surgery. This was a little controversial as neither of the two athletes who gained the automatic selection places by finishing first and second in the trials, had the qualifying time. Then European Athletics gave Kilty a wildcard which UK Athletics accepted.
Inevitably there was an element of “I’ll show them!” in the eyes of the media if not in Kilty’s mind. “Considering I’ve finished a lot higher than the majority of the team I feel l’ve justified myself. It’s just unknown for me not to win. Anything less than a gold would have been a failure today. I only want to win. There is a lot of emotions going into it, after all that was said to me about getting ready to prove people wrong, it’s hard to not have that in the back of your mind but I’ve got no excuses about coming back from surgery, it’s just horrible and I’m gutted”.
Ewa Swoboda (Poland) won the women’s 60m in 7.09, no surprise as she has dominated the indoor sprints this year. Dafne Schippers (Netherlands) was second in 7.14 and the strongly fancied Mujinga Kambundji (Switzerland) fifth in 7.16. Third and fourth went to GB. Asha Philip, defending champion was fourth in 7.144 with Kristal Awuah was clocked at 7.145, a PR.
The bronze medallist said: “I’m still grateful that I’ve come back here and won a medal. Obviously I wanted to win gold and retain my title, but you know that’s what happens in a final. It was a very messy race, but I kept my composure and I was still able to get a medal.
Philp is simply one of the nicest people in the sport as her follow-up comment showed: “Honestly I was so hurt to know I had taken it away from Kristal – I could feel her and I thought she’d got it. We both had the exact same times and I was the fortunate one to get the bronze medal. I could see her future is so bright she is a talented, talented girl and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.
Kristal Awuah, at 19, showed a mature attitude in her comments: “Three rounds in a day is long, but we had a great speech from our team captain – we had a great evening last night ‘ladies night’ but I loved it and it gave me great confidence and I knew this was going to be such a great championships”.
There was an innovation at the semi-final stage where the qualification system was 3 races, first 2 in each and the two fastest outside the top two. After the first heat the third and fourth runners were detained to sit in the Hot Seat, holding a big sign “ticket to final”. Then, after the second and third heats, any non-automatic qualifier whose time was faster than the two in the hot seats was invited to replace them in the hot seats.
Reactions to the innovations were mixed – aren’t they always – with the purists not liking it. One athlete commented that he wanted to warm-down and prepare for the final if he qualified rather than spending 10 minutes sitting. The positive was that it helped spectators to understand the process and to know that 7.31 was time to beat after the first race and to be part of it. Opinion was also divided as to whether of not this was the first time it had been used at an event