COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Buoyant England elated at securing spot in final

Hannah England (second left) crosses the line in fourth to qualify for tonight’s 1500m final, with Kenya’s Hellen Obiri taking victory

Hannah England (second left) crosses the line in fourth to qualify for tonight’s 1500m final, with Kenya’s Hellen Obiri taking victory

First published in Sport Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

Hannah England was delighted to qualify automatically for tonight’s 1500m final after only scraping through in past championships.

The 27-year-old Oxford athlete finished fourth in a surprisingly fast heat to set up a medal chance at Hampden Park (9.50pm).

Running for her namesake country, the former world silver medallist clocked a season’s best time of 4mins 5.62secs, while winner Hellen Obiri (Kenya) broke the Commonwealth Games record with 4.04.43.

England said: “It felt good. It was a bit nerve-wracking in the last 50 metres.

“I was trying not to think about it, but I am always bad in semi-finals.

“In both the last two world championships, I have only made it through on fastest losers.

“That was one of my better semi-final performances today.”

England needed to finish in the top four to be sure of progressing – and managed that despite coming under pressure from Australia’s Melissa Knight in the finishing straight.

The Oxford City ace was joined by Scotland’s Laura Muir (4.05.19), who finished third, in making the final from heat one.

Kenya’s Faith Kibiegon won heat two in 4.05.77, with England’s Laura Weightman (4.08.58) and Jemma Simpson (4.09.27) also progressing – the latter as a fastest loser.

England added: “I was really pleased with that. I was glad it was fast.

“With the quality field and it being the first heat, I was almost more relaxed when we went through 800m fast.”

Asked if she felt she was peaking at the right time, England replied: “Absolutely, I do.

“I am excited about tomorrow. It’s going to be a great race.”

Having finished fourth at Delhi 2010, England is eyeing up a podium spot this time.

She said: “The field is a lot deeper than it was four years ago, but I am a lot better than I was then.

“Hopefully, I can do better.”

After two quicker than expected heats, England bel-ieves another Games record may be needed to take gold.

“That’s interesting now that the Games record has gone,” she added. “I think it could go again.”

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NATIONAL 2 SOUTH

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