Kilty through to Commonwealth semi-finals - but admits an improvement is required

SAFELY THROUGH: Teessider Richard Kilty progressed from the opening round of the 100m at the Commonwealth Games

SAFELY THROUGH: Teessider Richard Kilty progressed from the opening round of the 100m at the Commonwealth Games

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

ONE race down, two more to go. Richard Kilty’s debut at a major outdoors championship is up and running, but the ‘Teesside Tornado’ freely admits he will have to step up his performance tomorrow if he is to blow the opposition away.

Kilty finished joint-second with South Africa’s Simon Magakwe in today’s first round of the Commonwealth Games 100m, and will join fellow Englishmen Adam Gemili and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey in tomorrow’s semi-finals.

He will have to improve today’s time of 10.34sec considerably if he is to make the final that follows a couple of hours later, but having suffered from running alone on one side of the track in his opening heat, the Stockton sprinter is confident there is plenty of improvement to come.

His outdoor form since claiming the World Indoor title in March has been far from impressive, and his season-best time of 10.12 does not put him among the top eight sprinters in the field.

His world title win in Sopot confirmed he is a big-race performer though, and with a number of the pre-Games favourites looking rusty this afternoon, another surprise is not out of the question.

“The aim is to try to make the final,” said Kilty. “That would be great for me, and that’s what the aim will be. It’s going to be very competitive in the semis because a lot of the guys are very close.

“It was a little bit sluggish out there for some reason. I was out there in lane eight, so I didn’t really feel the guys on other side of the track until the last 20 or 30m. Then suddenly they were there.

“I’ve got a little bit more to give, so hopefully I’ll wake up in the morning and run a lot quicker because that was a bit sluggish. The race was happening on the inside, and I was on the outside. Technically, it wasn’t the best either, but hopefully come the next round I’ll be able to execute a better race.”

Kilty made a decent enough start, and was just about ahead at the halfway stage, but Magakwe and Daniel Bailey were involved in their own private battle in lanes three and four, leaving Kilty somewhat exposed out in lane eight.

With only the top two finishers guaranteed a semi-final spot, it was impossible to split Kilty and Magakwe as they dipped, although either sprinter would have qualified as a fastest loser anyway had they been adjudged to have finished third.

“Sometimes, the first race can be a little bit lacklustre,” said Kilty. “I thought I was out in the lead and didn’t really realise how close the guys on the other side of the track were. I can definitely go a bit quicker.

“Halfway through, I was confident I’d done enough, but they (Bailey and Magakwe) made a bit of a surge at the end.”

Gemili’s time of 10.15 meant he was the fastest qualifier, although Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade was easing down from about the halfway mark as he won his heat in 10.40.

Trinidad & Tobago’s Richard Thompson is the second-fastest man in the world this year, but he was sweating after only finishing third in his heat, before eventually making it through as a fastest loser.

Earlier, Alyson Dixon’s hopes of a medal in the women’s marathon disappeared when she suffered a calf strain shortly before the halfway stage of the race.

The Wearsider positioned herself at the head of affairs within the opening mile, and led until the ten-mile mark as a group of seven runners detached themselves from the pack.

She slipped back as Kenyan duo Flomena Cheyech Daniel and Caroline Kilel forged clear, and was in obvious pain as she entered Glasgow Green with half of the race still to go.

To her credit, she continued in an attempt to run off the calf problem, but was forced to admit defeat at around the 25km mark.

The seriousness of the injury was quickly apparent, and Dixon left the marathon venue in a wheelchair with a protective cast around the bottom of her right leg.

Daniel won the race in a time of 2:26.45, outsprinting Kilel, who finished second, in the final kilometre. Australian Jess Trengrove produced a lifetime best performance to win the bronze medal, with Scotland’s Susan Partridge the best of the British finishers in sixth position.

The men’s race produced something of a shock, with Michael Shelley becoming the first Australian to win a Commonwealth marathon title for 20 years as he took gold.

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