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Child and Sharp look good in semi-final wins

Jessica Judd, left, and Lynsey Sharp, right, made the 800m final. Picture: Getty

Jessica Judd, left, and Lynsey Sharp, right, made the 800m final. Picture: Getty

  • by SIMON PEACH
 

MAHIEDINE MEKHISSI-BENABBAD was stripped of his 3,000m steeplechase gold medal at the European Championships for removing his vest on the home straight.

In a bizarre incident, the pre-race favourite from France chose to break the rules by removing his top, putting it in his mouth and waving to the crowd. Mekhissi-Benabbad won the race in eight minutes and 7.45 seconds and was shown a yellow card by the officials in Zurich afterwards.

It had looked like the 29-year-old has got away with his indiscretion, only for an appeal from Spain to see him lose the title, with Angel Mullera promoted to bronze medal position and Yoann Kowal of France taking gold.

France lodged a counter-protest but that was rejected, with Mekhissi-Benabbad disqualified under IAAF competition rules 143.1, 143.7.

Earlier, Eilidh Child looks well placed to this week go one better than her Commonwealth Games silver, having yet again bossed the 400 metres hurdles field in qualifying for the European Championships final.

The 27-year-old was the poster girl of Glasgow 2014, where two weeks ago she just missed out on the crown at Hampden Park. There have been no signs of a hangover in Zurich, though, as she qualified fastest from the heats on Wednesday and then again from the semi-finals.

Child crossed the line in 54.71 seconds and clearly had more left in the tank, cruising to the line with victory already assured.

“My coach just said to do what I did [on Wednesday], but finish it off because I knew girls would be closer to me,” she told the BBC.

“I’m happy with that. Having the inside draw, it’s nice to know what’s going on. Ultimately I’ve got to concentrate on my own race, but it’s nice to know where everyone is when you’re coming down the home straight.

“ I’m just trying to enjoy every race. The Commonwealths was amazing and I’m just loving coming out here and racing again.”

Child has a day’s rest before the final tomorrow, when she will follow reigning 800m champion Lynsey Sharp and Jessica Judd onto the track.

Having seen Alison Leonard, the fastest qualifier from the heats, fail to finish the first semi-final after a knock, the British pair avoided such issues by controlling their race.

Commonwealth silver medalist Sharp and Judd led from the outset, with the former winning the semi in two minutes 01.32 secs and teenager Judd following home in third.

“I felt really good, as strong as usual,” Sharp said. “I tried to stay calm and just run my own race so that’s why I was running from the front.

“It makes a massive difference when you’re running with confidence – I’m a different athlete to when I won the European title two years ago in Helsinki so I’m hoping to build on that.”

Attention inside the Stadion Letzigrund turned to the women’s 200m and Great Britain’s young trio did not disappoint.

Bianca Williams, ranked third in Europe over the distance, came second in her semi-final behind favourite Dafne Schippers, before Commonwealth silver medalist Jodie Williams won hers with ease. The fastest of the three was Dina Asher-Smith, whose wonderful day got even better in the first semi-final of the evening. Having the previous day come agonisingly close to a personal best just an hour after finding out she got into King’s College, the 18-year-old smashed her best time by crossing the line in 22.61secs – a new a British junior record.

The ever-impressive Adam Gemili nailed his 200 metres semi-final, with the British sprinter qualifying quicker than any of his rivals for the European crown. Two weeks on from winning silver over half that distance at the Commonwealth Games, the 20-year-old former footballer looks well placed to add another medal to his collection. Gemili will be the only British representative in the final after James Ellington missed out by less than a hundredth of a second.

William Sharman narrowly missed out on the European crown just weeks after having to settle for 110 metres hurdles silver at the Commonwealth Games. While the 29-year-old secured Great Britain a medal for the third successive night, he was frustrated not to beat reigning gold medallist Sergey Shubenkov. Sharman secured a personal best of 13.16 seconds in the semi-finals but he was unable to repeat that performance in an untidy final he was leading until he clattered a hurdle.

 

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