Britain off to impressive start
Britain enjoyed a successful opening morning at the European Indoor Championships, with all seven athletes in action successful in qualifying.
And Perri Shakes-Drayton was particularly impressive in the women's 400 metres to justify her status as a medal contender at the Scandinavium Arena.
Hurdles specialist Shakes-Drayton is ranked second in Europe in 2013 on the flat and looked in excellent form as she led from the gun to win her heat in 51.70 seconds.
Team-mate and fellow hurdler Eilidh Child, just behind Shakes-Drayton in the rankings, employed the same tactics to win her heat in 52.05secs, but Shana Cox was third in her race in 52.99s and only advanced as one of the fastest losers.
Shakes-Drayton, who missed out on the Olympic 400m hurdles final in London by a single place, said: "I am happy with how I ran. I did enough to get through and hope to get a good lane."
Child, who set a Scottish record of 51.50s last month, said: "It's always hard indoors because you have to go out hard regardless of what round it is. It meant I could switch off a little coming home.
"I hope I can battle with Perri for the medals, hopefully there will be two GB athletes on that podium."
Shakes-Drayton and Child were the fastest qualifiers for the semi-finals and with Olympic silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu available for the 4x400m relay, a gold medal in that event looks a distinct possibility.
All three British men also advanced to the semi-finals of the 400m, with Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Strachan third, fourth and fifth fastest overall respectively.
Strachan won his heat in 46.96s, while Levine (46.68) and Bingham (46.92) were content to finish second in their races, with European champion Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic the fastest qualifier. Ireland's Brian Gregan, ranked number one in Europe this year, won the opening heat to go through.
Levine, twice an indoor silver medallist in the 4x400m relay, said: "I tried to win but the aim was to come in the top two and that's what I did, so bring on tomorrow. I'm not going to predict anything, but I know what I'm here to do."
Shara Proctor also reached the long jump final with her first attempt, even though 6.61 metres was four centimetres short of the automatic qualifying distance.
It soon became clear that none of the field would reach that mark, allowing Proctor to pass her two remaining attempts and still go through in equal second place behind Russia's Darya Klishina.
"It was either be smart or keep jumping for the next two rounds," said Proctor, a disappointing ninth in the Olympic final last year. "The field is pretty competitive but I knew that I would make it anyway so I just decided to put my sneakers on and get ready for tomorrow. I was smart about it and I feel wonderful."
Ireland's Ciaran O'Lionaird advanced to the final of the 3,000m with a perfectly-judged victory in the first semi-final, but team-mates Stephen Scullion and John Travers missed out in 14th and 20th overall respectively.
Former world indoor champion Derval O'Rourke comfortably advanced to the semi-finals of the 60m hurdles after finishing second in her heat in a season's best of 8.05s.
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.