Above: James Preston wins his 800m heat at World U20 Champs in Bydgoszcz. Photo by Getty Images.
James Preston ran an impressive first-up race in the heats of the men’s 800m at the World Under 20 Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The 19 year old Wellingtonian only needed to finish in the top four places in his heat, but ended up winning his race in 1:49.69, his second fastest ever time.
Despite going into the championships with the 27th fastest time of the 33 competitors, Preston ran a well-paced race to finish the first round with the tenth fastest time of the 24 to make the semi-finals, to be run on Sunday morning.
The tall student, coached by Evan Cooper, repeated the heat victory by team member Alison Andrews-Paul in the women’s 800m on day 1 of the championships.
Olivia Burdon finished sixth in her heat of the women’s 1500m in 4:21.49, outside the top four who gained automatic qualification, but fast enough to make the final as one of the next fastest four athletes. The final will be run on the last day of the championships on Monday morning NZ time.
The US-based 19 year old Kiwi who calls Queensland home, was New Zealand’s best placed athlete at the 2015 World U18 Championships, and will be hoping to at least match her ninth placing in Cali, Columbia last year.
Georgia Hulls ran the World Under 18 Champs in Cali last year too and had the unusual experience of being disqualified in her 200m but was then allowed to run a solo rerun after the disqualification was overturned, only to miss out on progressing to the next round by fractions of a second.
This time around the 16 year old Hastings student was not called for a false start and powered into the 200m semi-finals with a run of 23.99 in her heat, finishing fourth and qualifying automatically for the semi-finals.
Later in the day Hulls ran 24.06 in her semi-final race, not quick enough to get to the final. She finished with 20th place overall.
Olivia Eaton finished fifth in her 200m heat, clocking 24.13 and had the agony of missing out on the semi-finals by just one place and 0.02s. Her overall ranking was 25th.
Disaster struck the women’s 4x100m relay team in their heat after they crossed the line first in 44.57s following a stunning run to seemingly break the New Zealand senior relay record of 44.60. Moments later came the news that they were disqualified, not for the usual relay problem of baton change infringement but because one of the runners stepped on the line during the race.
The team of Brooke Somerfield, Lucy Sheat, Zoe Hobbs and Olivia Eaton were disappointed in the result but buoyed by the knowledge they have the ability to run very fast times.
The men’s 4x100m relay team finished fifth in their heat, stopping the clock at 40.80, not fast enough to make the final.
On day 5 at the championships James Preston will be the only Kiwi in action, racing in the 800m semi-finals.