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7 Aug 2017

Judd and Learmonth on form at London 2017

Middle distance runners Jess Judd and Guy Learmonth acquitted themselves superbly over the first three days of action at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, both just missing out on finals spots.

Judd was the first Loughborough athlete in action, competing in the women’s 1500m heats on Friday night. The Human Biology student showed maturity beyond her years, laying down the gauntlet to the rest of the field with a superb front running performance. Her valiant effort was rewarded with a semi-final spot and new personal best of 4.03.73.

"It was amazing! It was so, so good and to get a personal best was fantastic. And the crowd - I've never heard a cheer like that, ever. That really was the highlight of my year. It was stacked and I was ranked 10th fastest going in, so I thought 'my goodness, this is going to be hard', but I didn't expect to go off that fast. I couldn't hear myself breathe, and I normally go off my breathing or how I'm feeling, and I couldn't even hear it! When I came into the home straight and saw there were six of us and six go through, I knew I could ease off a little."

Come the semi-final, Judd put in the same effort and commitment, but eventually just ran out of steam over the final 300m, finishing 10th in 4.10.14, to just miss out on a final berth.

“That was so hard but I gave it everything and I wouldn’t have run it any other way. I wanted to put myself out there and I think I did a good job. But I want more so I’m just going to keep working hard to come back. I’m really, really proud that I went out there and gave it a go, my legs just couldn’t quite do it for me today, but I couldn’t have done anymore.”

Guy Learmonth also did himself proud, in both the heats and semi-finals of the men’s 800m, ultimately just falling short of a place in the final. Running a smart race in the heat, the Loughborough alumnus sat on the shoulder of the leader, crossing the line third in 1.45.90, the second fastest time of his career.

Drawn in the first of three semi-finals on Sunday, the Scot put in a gutsy performance, but couldn't quite negotiate a messy, tactical race, fifth in 1.46.75 meaning he was within half a second of a final place.

“I’m disappointed as I knew there was a spot in the final up for grabs, but I just got caught on the inside and there was pushing and shoving even from the first 150m. I just couldn’t get going until the last 120m and I was moving down the home-straight but I just gave myself too much to do. As I said yesterday, I need to stick to these guys like glue to give myself any chance, and tonight I just couldn’t close the gap.

“Overall I can’t complain and what I’ve taken away from this is it doesn’t matter what times people have run or where they’re ranked; people would have written me off but in the heat and today I’ve beaten some good guys. Everyone is human and I believe I can beat anyone, you’ve just got to be brave enough.”

In his first senior global championship David Omoregie was just shy of making the 110mH semi-final, the second year Economics student crossing the line in 13.59. The Welshman was naturally disappointed to just miss out, but he has a very bright future ahead of him.

“It’s a little disappointing; I clipped a few hurdles and it wasn’t the tidiest race. Pozzi and I, we train together, and these last three weeks we’ve put in some of the best sessions of the year, so I knew I was coming here in good shape. Ever since last year, missing out on the Olympics, it was my goal to come here and make the team. Stepping out on the start and seeing all the crowd was amazing.”

His training partner Andrew Pozzi went one better, advancing to the semi-finals, but leading to hurdle eight, the Loughborough based hurdles was just run out of it. In the end his fourth place finish in 13.28 wasn’t quite enough for a spot in the final.

"It is a run that isn't good enough. I came here to be in that final and push for the medals. I didn't do that tonight and that is very poor from me. I felt like I started behind and then came through really well. I think I just sat on hurdle nine and lost momentum. I just didn't have enough on the run in."

Emily Diamond was naturally disappointed not to advance to the women’s 400m semi-finals, the Sports Science graduate just missing out with a fifth place finish. It was a similar story for Martyn Rooney in the men’s event as he finished sixth in his heat in 45.75, his second fastest run of the year not enough to progress. Both former students will now hope to get on the podium as part of the British 4x400m relay teams.

Alumna Beth Potter put up a brave effort in the women’s 10,000m final on Saturday night, crossing the line 21st in 31.15.88, just ten seconds down on her personal best set earlier this year. The former Physics student has switched her focus to triathlon over the last 12 months since the Olympic Games, and she’ll now return to that event after a great effort at the World Championships.

Loughborough based Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon made light work of qualifying for the women’s hammer final, taking just one massive 73.05m effort to book her place.

"It feels good but it is just about going through the qualification, no matter how you are throwing. It is just about being in the final, really. My memories of London 2012 are nice as I went through the qualification with a PB. Hopefully things will go as well in the final."

It was close but no cigar for Asha Philip, who ran a terrific first half of her 100m semi-final before just running out of steam. Having qualified from the heats, the European Indoor 60m champion posted a time of 11.19 for seventh place, and will now turn her attention to the 4x100m relay, having won bronze in that event in Rio.

“I’ve had such a fantastic year, it’s just I haven’t followed through with the 100m, but I thought that might take a bit more time than expected. It’s not the result I wanted but I gave it my all and I’m not going to say I left any stone unturned.”

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Pete Matthews
PR Officer (Sport)
Loughborough University