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24 August 2009 | PR 09/111

Double silver and bronze for Loughborough athletes at World Championships

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin

Loughborough University’s athletes are celebrating after helping claim three of Britain’s six medals at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

Lisa Dobriskey, Martyn Rooney and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey were on world-beating form as they romped home to double silver and a bronze – all three collecting their first ever medals at a senior World Championships.

Graduate Dobriskey produced the performance so many people knew she was capable of in the 1500m final, powering through the final lap to cross the line in third in 4:03.75, narrowly avoiding leader Gelete Burka (Ethiopia) as she crashed to the ground after colliding with Natalia Rodriguez of Spain.

However, minutes later there was the dramatic news that Rodriguez had been disqualified and Dobriskey found herself elevated to silver, agonisingly just one hundredth of a second off gold won by Maryam Yusef Jamal (Bahrain) in 4:03.74.

It was a superb moment for the Loughborough-based athlete, whose late start to the season through injury and focussed rehabilitation with coach George Gandy saw her arrive in Berlin race hungry and in the shape of her life.

Lisa Dobriskey

Lisa Dobriskey

“I thought I was going to go down, it was so close to the finish I just thought ‘don’t screw it up, don’t come fourth, hang onto it, hang onto it’. In doing so I think the opposite happened to what happened in Beijing,” explained Dobriskey who finished just outside the medals in fourth place at last year’s Beijing Olympic Games.

“It was such a great championship race to be involved in. Having come through the rounds it has made me believe that I’m a true championship performer now.

“I just couldn’t finish fourth today. I have driven my family and friends absolutely up the wall playing that DVD (from the Olympics) and with the tears and tantrums.

“I learnt a lot from last year.  George Gandy and I had a really good chat about not giving people too much respect. I can’t afford to give those girls at the front a five or 10 metre head start because they’re just too quick and just too strong.”

Loughborough’s Martyn Rooney ran the anchor leg in the men’s 4x400m relay as Britain and Australia fought it out for the silver medal. 

GB team mates Conrad Williams, Michael Bingham and Rob Tobin had secured second spot by the final handover – second runner Bingham, who trains at Loughborough when in the UK, putting in the hard work to move the team from fifth to second position behind leaders USA.

Rooney protected the position all the way round and crossed the line for silver in 3:00.53 to a joyous reception from the team.

“I think that was probably my worst relay leg ever, but we got a medal and that’s all that matters,” reflected Rooney. “I’m just used to chasing. I had a clear run which was brilliant, but it was a completely different race.

“So many times I have run sub three minutes and haven’t got a medal - we’ve got a medal now and that’s amazing.”

Loughborough sports scholar Harry Aikines-Aryeetey was another anchor runner, providing the final leg in the 4x100m relay and helping the team to bronze in a season’s best of 38.02 seconds. 

If it isn’t broken don’t fix it was the motto for team selection as the successful quartet who finished first in their heat (following USA’s disqualification) returned to the track to contend for a podium spot.

Simeon Williamson, Tyrone Edgar and Marlon Devonish ran the opening legs before handing over to European U23 100m champion Aikines-Aryeetey who kept Japan and Canada at bay to cross in third behind Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

“It’s absolutely amazing to come through the junior ranks and be successful there then come here and have success as part of a senior GB team,” said a delighted Aikines-Aryeetey.

“I'm just happy to compete with these guys and happy to have worked really hard and have got the medal. It's amazing to cross the line on the world class stage and know you've got your medal.”

The women’s 4x400m quartet, featuring three Loughborough graduates, was just outside the medals with a fourth place finish behind USA, Jamaica and Russia.

Lee McConnell, Vicky Barr and Nicola Sanders teamed up with Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu.

McConnell faded slightly towards the end of the first leg and although 400m finalist Ohuruogu took over the baton there was already a lot of ground to make up on the three leading teams.

Ohuruogu passed on to Barr, who held the Brits in fourth position, and then came Sanders with her traditional final leg flurry. Although at this point there was no chance of Sanders making up the 30-odd metres between GB & NI and the medal positions, she still ate up the ground on the home straight and finished strongly for fourth with 3:25.16.

“We did our best,” said Sanders. “We couldn't have run faster than that, we ran a season's best. It was such a weird leg, I was in no man's land a bit.

“I knew they weren't going to catch up with me, it just felt like I went through the motions to finish. At one point I thought, I'm catching them and then I was like 'they are the three medallists' and I've got 50m to go.  It wasn't really going to happen.”

Earlier in the week graduate Will Sharman, who received a late call-up to the British squad after an outstanding performance at Loughborough’s European Athletics meet, sprung a surprise by not only making the 110m Hurdles final but finishing in fourth position with a lifetime best of 13.30 seconds.

“It dawned on me after the semi final and I thought ok, I pranced about a bit in that race and I won my heat. There were only three heats and I won mine so looking at the statistics I’m in with a chance here,” he said.

In the men’s 400m final University student David Gillick provided the best performance from a European athlete finishing sixth in 45.53 seconds, in his first major outdoor final.

Pole vaulters Kate Dennison and Steve Lewis both reached their respective finals in Berlin. Dennison claimed a credible sixth place with a 4.55m clearance – just 3cm off the British best she lowered multiple times this year.

Dennison attempted 4.65m, which would have been a new personal best and British record, but failed to conquer the formidable jump and bowed out of competition at that stage.

“I enjoyed it, it’s better when the bar gets higher quicker, that’s the aim of the competition,” she said. “It was a bit unfortunate the bar didn’t go through 4.60m, and I know 65 is in my reach. It just wasn’t quite there today.

“I’ve got to be fairly happy. If you told me in January I’d finish top eight in the World Championships I’d have laughed at you. So to be here I’m happy but also a little disappointed at the same time.”

Poland’s Anna Rogowska, who regularly visits the UK to train with Dennison at Loughborough’s world class pole vault facility, produced a shock result to defeat Russia’s world record holder Elena Isinbaeva with a height of 4.75m.

In the men’s event Lewis had a rocky start to the final, with an opening falter and clearance at 5.50m then a no height at his first try at 5.65m before easily clearing it on his second attempt.

The usually consistent and confident jumper finally met his match at 5.75m, which would have equalled his personal best. After cutting short his jump on his first two tries he managed to make it to the bar successfully on his final effort but brought it down with him in the process, ending his Berlin dream in a respectable seventh place.

 “I feel good, I've had a really good Championships,” said the 23-year-old. “I've backed up what I did in qualifying but I really feel I'm in better shape.

“5.75m is difficult but on my second attempt I twisted my ankle a little bit as I took off the floor. Then on the third attempt I wasn't sure if I needed a bigger pole or not so I didn't change and then I got a really good attempt, probably my best jump of the year, it was just frustrating that I was on the wrong pole.

“I'm inspired to be part of a competition like that. It was really good experience coming this far and going for a PB in the final would have been a dream ending for me. But I'm still happy, I'm still progressing and this is my best championship result yet.”


For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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