Looking good for Rio as Old Etonian Clarke leads new Brit pack
22:05 GMT, 8 August 2012
No medals in the Olympic Stadium for
the British on Wednesday but a glorious day for the generation of
athletes who will be wearing the colours in Rio.
Super Saturday may never be matched
but this was a wicked Wednesday for the class of 2016 that gave us a
splendid glimpse into the future.
This was youth having its first moment
in the sun, and how well they grasped their opportunities. They did
themselves and their team proud.
Leap of faith: Clarke has reached the 110m hurdle final at the Olympic Stadium
As hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon, 21, put it: 'We all sit together at dinner and cheer our team-mates. It's beginning to sink in that I'm part of a great team.'
The star of the day was 22-year-old Lawrence Clarke, Old Etonian, heir to a baronetcy and dead ringer for the aristocratic hurdler Nigel Havers played in Chariots of Fire, emulated him by reaching an Olympic hurdles final.
Clarke, first cousin four times removed to the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, ran the fastest 110metres hurdles of his life in 13.31sec to qualify himself to run against the aristocracy of the hurdles.
He would probably regard it as a small mountain to climb after ascending Mont Blanc at the age of 13 and he certainly made light of it. He finished fourth in the fastest race ever run in Britain which saw American Aries Merritt win gold in 12.92sec.
'The goal was to make the semi-finals so this was a bonus. I tried to produce the best race of my life,' he said, and that was precisely what he did.
In contention: Lynsey Sharp is in the semis of the 800m
Cameron Sharp has been through too much
in the last 20 years of his life since a car accident crippled the 1980
Olympic sprinter to get excited over something as insignificant as
sport. But daughter Lynsey, 22, managed to bring a smile to his face
when she Skyped him on the eve of her 800m heat.
'It's the first time I have seen emotion from him. It was great to see
him smile,' she said after she made him prouder still by qualifying for
The pressure was greater on her than almost anybody in Team GB. Four
other women, better qualified on time if not performance, were left out
of the team to include her as Britain's sole 800m representative.
'I have tried to block it out but the media hasn't helped by harping on.
Today is a big confidence boost. That was the minimum I wanted. I have
shown my selection is warranted,' she said.
Sadly, her father could not be there to see it. A ticket was available
but a journey from his home in Scotland was too much for a man who had
to learn to walk again after his accident.
Hitchon became the first British woman to qualify for the final of the
hammer, another of the Rio generation not over-whelmed by the presence
of 75,000 spectators.
Impressive: Britain's Lisa Dobriskey
'I was used to performing on stage when I was training to be a ballet dancer,' she said.
She fluffed her first two pirouettes in the circle, clipping the hammer
cage with her first launch and dropping a second short. But the third
flew out to a distance of 71.98m, her third British record of the season
and far enough to put her in 10th place in qualifying.
'It was pretty much all or nothing when I produced my big throw but as soon as I let go, I knew,' she said.
Steve Lewis, 26, another who has broken a British record this summer,
qualified for the chance to become the first Briton to finish in the
first eight of the men's pole vault with a vault of 5.50m, a height he
shared with five other finalists.
Lisa Dobriskey, fourth in the 1500m in Beijing, suffered a stress
fracture of the femur in February and was rushed to hospital in May with
a blood clot on the lung.
Remarkably she made it through to tomorrow's final, finishing fourth in
her semi-final in 4min 05.35sec. So did the Steve Cram-coached Laura
Weightman, 21, with a career best of 4min 2.99sec.
Only long jumper Shara Proctor missed out. She led the qualifiers on
6.83m but was way off that mark in the final, failing to make the cut
for the last three rounds after jumping 6.55. Gold went to American
Brittney Reese with a massive leap of 7.12m.