European athletics championships "Impossible": Disqualified Lennon-Ford blasts Helsinki track
By Alex Spink
28th June 2012
FrustrationL: Luke Lennon-Ford was disqualified
The 400m hopeful won his heat but was disqualified for running outside his lane, ending his Olympic dream
Luke Lennon-Ford blasted an "impossible" track after his Olympic dream fell victim to the bends in Helsinki.
The farce round the grass saw three of the five heat winners in the European Championships 400m disqualified for stepping out of their lane.
Richard Buck was later reinstated on appeal but Lennon-Ford, who needed a fast time to book a berth at London 2012, was sent packing.
The 23-year-old revealed a local told him the football pitch in the infield had been widened to meet international regulations, and the track relaid.
"He said they'd changed the curve and they have blatantly made it too tight," raged Lennon-Ford. "It's impossible to put speed on it. Unless you're drawn in lanes 4/5/6 forget it."
Hurdler Nathan Woodward added: "It's almost as though it has corners. You go one way then you have to turn, like almost at right angles."
Biggest victim was Slovenian athlete Brent Larue who was disqualified from both the 400m AND 400m hurdles.
Buck still needs to record two 'A' standards of 45.30 seconds in the semi-final and final to have a realistic chance of being selected for the Olympics, with Nigel Levine in a strong position to claim the final place available alongside Martyn Rooney and Conrad Williams.
Elsewhere, the Olympic dreams of Britain's Jenny Meadows suffered a massive blow today when she was forced to withdraw from the European Championships.
Meadows, who won bronze in the 800m at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, has not raced all year due to injury, but was hoping to prove her fitness here before the Olympic squad is selected on Monday.
However, the 31-year-old Wigan athlete suffered a reaction to her Achilles injury on the journey to Finland and will not compete in this evening's semi-finals.
The UK Athletics selection panel will not select any athlete "who it has good reason to think will be uncompetitive at the Games due to, for example, injury, illness or lack of recent form," but previous championship performances can also be considered and Meadows will score strongly on that point.
The good news for Meadows is that there are currently still three places available on the team after Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson, who could have sealed a place by finishing in the top two at the weekend's trials, were fifth and seventh.
Lynsey Sharp and Jemma Simpson, who were first and second in Birmingham respectively, could fill two places by recording the 'A' standard of one minute 59.90 seconds in Helsinki, but whatever happens there will be at least one spot up for grabs.
"It has been a battle to get back to full fitness after suffering an Achilles tear earlier this year," Meadows said. "I have never been fitter, having spent all winter training on the bike or the Alter-G (an anti-gravity treadmill) and mentally I was ready to come here and compete for a medal.
"But my injury seems to have reacted badly to the flight and whilst we all genuinely believed I would be ready to get to the start line, this setback means I'm so close yet so far. I know I'm selectable based on my previous seven 'A' standards, but it is no longer in my control."