Nightmare start for Brits
Britain's athletes suffered a nightmare start to the opening day of competition at the European Championships in Helsinki.
UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee had warned that there would be no repeat of the record 19 medals won in Barcelona two years ago, with track athletes gaining Olympic places at the weekend's trials de-selected from the initial European squad.
But the Dutchman would still have been hoping for far better performances than he saw in the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday morning, with Abigail Irozuru (long jump) and Carl Myerscough (shot) failing to reach their respective finals, while former Olympic finalist Jeanette Kwakye crashed out in the heats of the 100 metres.
Irozuru has jumped 6.80m this season and needed another leap over the Olympic 'A' standard of 6.75m to be eligible for selection on Monday, but committed a foul with her opening attempt, ran through the pit on her second and managed just 6.19m on her final effort to finish 22nd out of 30.
The 22-year-old could still achieve the qualifier in a low-key meeting in London at the weekend, but said: "I'll need to talk to my coach because right now I don't even feel like doing that, I feel so despondent.
"I'm shocked and very disappointed. I seriously do not have any belief in myself when I'm jumping right now, I feel like I'm a big fluke getting that 6.80. I can't go out and do 6.80 one week and 6.19 the next and not even make it into a final.
"I've made finals since 2007 from junior championships with further distances than that. I feel like I've let a lot of people down."
Myerscough needed to be among the top 12 to qualify for the shot final but finished 14th with a best of 19.30m in the second round. The 32-year-old needs to throw 20.50m by Sunday evening's deadline to secure an automatic Olympic place.
Kwakye has been plagued by injuries since reaching the Olympic final in Beijing and looked completely out of sorts as she trailed in seventh in her 100m heat in 11.98 seconds.
"It's not enough, I've got no words for it," the 29-year-old admitted. "I think I would have kicked myself had I not tried.
"I've got a couple of 'A' standards from last year but only four weeks until the Games, and you know I can't start on the line in London if I'm going to be in that kind of shape and form, I wouldn't do myself justice and psychologically it doesn't help. I'm devastated. I don't know what's going to happen."
There was at least some better news for trials winner Ashleigh Nelson, who was third in her heat in 11.43secs to advance to the semi-finals. Nelson needs to run 11.29s here to secure her place in London.
Isobel Pooley, who needed to clear 1.95m in the high jump to secure an automatic Olympic place, managed just 1.78m to fail to reach the final, while Richard Yates also went out in the heats of the 400m hurdles.
However, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams - who are battling for the last Olympic spot - both won their heats to advance to tomorrow's semi-finals, with Woodward looking in excellent form.
In the men's 100m, Mark Lewis-Francis and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey advanced to the semi-finals after finishing fourth and second respectively in their heats, Aikines-Aryeetey recording a season's best of 10.27s behind France's defending champion Christophe Lemaitre.
There was more misery to come in the men's 400m, where Richard Buck and Luke Lennon-Ford were both disqualified for running outside of their lanes after seemingly winning their respective heats.
A total of seven athletes were disqualified for lane infringements from the five heats and Lennon-Ford said: "One of the Finnish radio reporters told me they've changed the curve and made it too tight. I was only going 85 per cent around the top bend and had to cut back to 65 per cent around the next.
"I was in and out of the lane and thought I was going to get DQ'd. I'm gutted. It's really frustrating. I've had the worst four days of my life after getting a virus before the trials and not being able to do anything there."
Lennon-Ford and Buck both needed to achieve 'A' standards here to have any chance of being selected for the Olympics, with Nigel Levine in a strong position to claim the final place available.
Video evidence clearly showed Lennon-Ford stepping outside his lane, but Buck's case was deemed inconclusive by British team officials, who duly lodged a protest over his exclusion.