Lizzie Bird qualifies for Olympic Steeplechase final

lizzie bird

As the programme in Tokyo unfolds there were many promising performances and key tactical lessons to be reflected upon on one of the hottest Olympic days so far at the athletics stadium - 37 degrees at one point!. British record holder, Lizzie Bird, made history by reaching the final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

No Team GB athlete has ever reached the showpiece of the women’s 3000m steeplechase final at an Olympic Games before, but Bird (handicap -1.0) looked comfortable throughout her heat. .

She joined a front pack of five in the final few laps and ultimately crossed the line in fifth place, behind heat winner and former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng. Bird’s time of 9:24.34 was enough to see her book a spot in Wednesday’s final as the fifth of six fastest non-automatic qualifiers.

“Wow I didn’t know that [being the first British woman to reach the Olympic 3000m steeplechase final – that’s pretty cool,” said the 26-year-old, who will be back for the final at 12pm BST on Wednesday.

“I didn’t know what time I needed to get; it was just about trying to finish as high as I could.

“I didn’t want to come here and just be here for the experience, I wanted to compete and get as high as I can, and this year more than ever, I knew I could be competitive.”

Aimee Pratt (handicap -1.2) also made her Olympic debut in the morning’s 3000m steeplechase heats.

Pratt finished 11th in 9:47.56 in heat two, behind the likes of world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) and heat winner Courtney Frerichs (USA).

After three high-quality men’s 800m semi-finals, Elliot Giles (handicap -7.1) and Daniel Rowden (handicap -6.2) can consider themselves unlucky to have narrowly missed out on places in the final.

In a heat that included 2019 World Championship medallists Ferguson Rotich (KEN) and Amel Tuka (BIH), as well as London 2012 silver medallist Nijel Amos (BOT), Giles decided to lead from the front.

With around 150 metres to go, there was drama as Amos appeared to fall over the back foot of USA’s Isaiah Jewett and both men went down, before the Brit contested a sprint down the home straight with Rotich and Tuka.

The Kenyan pulled clear to cross the line first, while Tuka narrowly pipped Giles to second and the 27-year-old’s time of 1:44.74 meant he missed out on qualification as a next fastest qualifier by just 0.44s.

“I felt good until 50 metres to go then the lactic sniper kicked in and, wow, my body just flooded,” said Giles.

“I just couldn’t get my legs moving, it was tough. I should have been strong enough to hold on to a 44 low, even if I did lead, but I wasn’t and ran a 44.7 so there’s not much I can say about that.”

In the previous heat, Rowden had tried to take an inside line down the home straight but admitted afterwards that the gap closed, causing him to lose his stride, and he finished fifth – despite a season’s best time of 1:44.35, just missing out on a place in the final by 0.05s.

Other events via the British Athletics site are reported here.

Olympic endurance results