British trio come through heats

Jodie Williams, right, and Bianca Williams, left, are targeting more success

Jodie Williams, right, and Bianca Williams, left, are targeting more success

First published in National Sport News © by

Bianca Williams, Jodie Williams and Dina Asher-Smith will be vying for a place in the European Championships final later today after easing through the 200 metres heats.

The trio represent an exciting new era for women's sprinting in the UK, with all three medal contenders in Zurich this week.

Bianca Williams, ranked third in Europe over 200m, was first up at the Stadion Letzigrund on Thursday morning, winning the first heat with ease in 23.38 seconds.

"I've now made sure I've got a good lane for the semi-final," the 200m bronze medallist at Glasgow 2014 said. "You've got to forget about the Commonwealth Games and concentrate on here."

Commonwealth silver medallist Jodie Williams joined her in this evening's semi-final, winning the following heat in 22.88secs without exerting too much energy.

"I felt good," she said. "The track is very fast. I felt relaxed and I ran quicker than I thought I would so I'm happy.

"I've never run on this kind of surface before, it's very hard and I'm happy with my time. It's nice to get another sub-23 seconds under my belt - it's all about consistency."

Asher-Smith, competing in her first individual senior event, ensured the full complement of female British 200m sprinters would be taking to the track again later.

On the morning in which the 18-year-old received her A-level results, the world junior 100m champion won through in the final heat, crossing the line in 22.75s - beating Jodie Williams to the second fastest time in the heats, behind Holland's 100m champion Dafne Schippers.

Ireland will also be represented after Kelly Proper qualified in 23.37 - a boost after the disappointment of Laura Reynolds pulling out of the 20km race walk after 12km, suffering cramps and breathing difficulties related to asthma.

Elsewhere, Commonwealth gold medallist Steven Lewis made it through to the pole vault final although Luke Cutts, who finished runner-up in Glasgow, was unable to make it through qualifying.

"It was good," Lewis said. "I was definitely in the right head space this morning to make easy qualification and I've done it with two jumps.

"I feel like I've got a new lease of life and I definitely want to aim for the podium and just think big. It felt good standing on the podium in Glasgow, so I want to try and feel it again."

The last British interest of the early session in Zurich saw attention return to the track for the men's 200m heats.

Like their female counterparts, all three men secured automatic qualification, with James Ellington first through after finishing second to Christophe Lemaitre in 20.55.

Danny Talbot, bronze medallist in Helsinki two years ago, won the next heat in 20.63, before Adam Gemili laid down the gauntlet to his rivals by winning the final heat in 20.39 - the fastest time in qualifying.

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