Lille, France
Thursday 7th July 2011
So, I am honoured (& rather tired) so the Team GB media officer that is sharing the apartment/physio centre with Rob Denmark & myself, Will Ponissi has offered his word-smith skills for the blog...I am sure you will notice the more professional nature of the reports over the next couple of days.  Thanks Will!!!

After an excellent opening day of competition with an historic first medal for Sophie McKinna (coach: Geoff Capes) who became the first British woman ever to win a global championship medal in the shot put, the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team returned to action with the aim to keep momentum, as more and more events enter crucial phases and medals are awarded. 

No athlete did so more than Hayley McLean (Steve Mitchell), who stunned the crowd at the Stadium Lille Metropole with a brave run in the second semi-final of the 400m hurdles. McLean, looking for a top two placement to advance to the final, put in what she described as "her best run ever" to destroy her previous PB (59.58s) with a new time of 58.74s. As the USA's Nnenya Hailey set a World Leading performance (58.44s), McLean stormed to fourth in this season's World rankings, an astonishing result from the 16-year-old Chelmsford athlete.

"I came here ranked ninth and didn't even expect to make the final, so to actually qualify for it is a dream come true! I'll go out there on Saturday, run like I did today, and have fun. This was my best run ever and I got a massive PB. It was in very difficult conditions, I was in an outside lane and I couldn't see anyone so I had to run making my own pace. I want to thank everyone so much."

McLean's performance was not the only one that confirmed the team's top form at these World Youth Championships.

Lucy Bryan (Neil Winter) started her pole vault competition knowing that equalling her season best of 3.90m would guarantee her a place in the final, to be held in the afternoon. Bryan, who competes domestically for Bristol & West, cleared each mark from 3.50m up to 3.85m at the first attempt, enough for her to rank in the top 12 who gained the ticket to the final pool and postponing the need to jump her current 2011 benchmark to this afternoon. "Conditions out there are ideal, just how I like them. My aim for the final is to go out and jump over 4m - I did it before this season and I think I can do it again." 

Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman), ranked second in the World, had a good run in her 800m heat. The Chelmsford athlete got the lead at the break and led the whole race, only letting Ethiopia's Alem Gereziher through in the last 150m to clinch one of the four automatic qualifying spots for tomorrow's semi-final, her final time being 2:07.35. "I thought I'd go off in a good pace and gradually ease it down, which allowed the pack to slowly come back. I am happy, I feel really good."

Running in heat four, Katie Snowden (James McDonald) had a similarly confident run, playing a waiting game in a relatively slow race and finishing second to American Ajee Wilson in a time of 2:14.10. "The Jamaican athlete (Marleena Eubanks) took the first lap really slowly, and when another girl went past and I just followed her into position. Tomorrow's race will be much more competitive and with much faster times; hopefully I can finish in the top two and qualify."

Callum Brown (Lorraine Brown) opened his World Youth Championships account with a 67.01m throw in the hammer which gave promise of much more to come. Unfortunately, a foul throw in his second trial and a 67.90m effort meant the City of Norwich athlete finished fourteenth and two positions short of qualification. Brown's performance came in a really compact and competitive field, with nine athletes throwing over 70m and the sub-70m positions being decided by mere centimetres.

With temperatures rising in the Stadion Lille Metropole, middle distance runners Robbie Farnham-Rose (Mark Hookway) and James McMurray (Deborah Steer) took to the track for the 1500m after 11am and duly earned automatic qualifying positions in their heats. Farnham-Rose led his race comfortably until the bell, when Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe of Kenya took the burden of leading a very stretched pack; with the top three qualifying to Sunday's final, all the Tonbridge athlete had to do was control the gap from Italy's Lorenzo Dini and finish in second in a time of 3:50.89. 

McMurray's race was a bit more eventful, with a quartet including Mutai of Kenya, Murad of Ethiopia and Son of South Korea leading the British atlete at the start of the last lap. A controlled performance, however, saw McMurray not only leave behind his Korean opponent, but even allow himself the luxury to slow down to jog over the line while still setting a new PB in the time of 3:50.16.

"The race was slightly slower than I expected to" said Farnham-Rose, "I ran the first lap in 61s and I was surprised at how easy it felt to run it. It means I have much more in me for the final."

There was plenty of good feeling from McMurray too. "A new PB, and I feel I could have destroyed the old one had I not slowed down in the last 100m. I knew I had to pass the Korean and I'd have a clear path in front of me, but when I did it he just fell behind. I feel ready for the final, I know I could have run much faster so I could be doing another PB."

The afternoon session will see five Aviva GB & NI athletes in action with semi-finals action for Yasmin Miller (Jared Deacon) in the 100m hurdles at 16:14 (with a possible final at 19:30), Chijindu Ujah (Edwin Stephens) in the 100m at 17:47 (event final: 19:45), Alex Boyce (Stan Roberts) in the 400m and William Gurton (Nick Taylor) and Elliot Slade (Arwyn Davies) in the 800m. 
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