Buck eyes medal after cruising into 400m Paris final

RICHARD Buck is starting to believe he can land European Indoor Championship gold in Paris after strolling into the weekend’s 400m final after two hugely impressive performances.

The 24-year-old City of York Athletics Club runner won both his heat yesterday morning and his semi-final to progress third quickest for the final.

His goal in Paris is simple and that is to medal in the 400m and also in the 4x400m relay and after winning his semi-final in 46.79 seconds, Buck is among a handful of athletes capable of topping the podium.

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Fastest qualifier for the 400m final was French sprinter Leslie Djhone, who clocked 46.26 seconds, while Germany’s Thomas Schneider was second quickest, with another Briton Richard Strachan fourth fastest – the trio is likely to prove Buck’s stiffest opposition.

“I really enjoyed that,” said Buck. “All I had on my mind was to come out and make sure I did whatever it took to get myself a good lane draw in the final.

“Last time at the European Indoors in Turin I tried to save too much energy and didn’t get a good enough lane and so I wasn’t in with a chance (came fifth).

“But this time, even if I’ve done a bit more work than I wanted to, I’ve got myself an outside lane and that’s the most important thing.

“It’s shaping up as a bit of an Anglo-French rivalry which is going to be very interesting.

“And racing Richard again is going to be very interesting as well. He can run the bends a lot better than I can and he was pushing me all the way to the break in the semi.

“But I’ve got an outside lane and that’s crucial for someone my size. I think I’ve learned from what happened in Turin and now it’s about doing it when it matters.”

Buck admitted he had initially struggled to get to grips with the Paris track – but after also winning his first round race in 46.57 seconds – the York runner thinks his performances are only going one way.

“The track is a bit different to the ones in the UK but it’s manageable, very manageable,” added Buck.

“Some of the European tracks can seem completely foreign to what we’re used to though but that’s not the case here.

“And I think it’s a pretty quick track as well. I think we’re going to see some fast times this weekend and hopefully it will be me who does it.”

Tiffany Ofili broke the British record twice in the space of three hours, but had to settle for a silver medal after a dramatic finish to the 60m hurdles.

Ofili was born and raised in Michigan but holds dual British and American citizenship and officially switched to competing for Britain in September last year. And the 23-year-old marked her debut in style in Paris, breaking the British record held by Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis in the semi-finals and then lowering it further in a thrilling photo-finish to the final.

Ofili hurt her right shoulder as she tumbled to the track after dipping for the line, but was pipped to the gold by Germany’s Carolin Nytra.

Aviva, supporting British athletes since 1999. To watch British athletes in action this summer at the Aviva Series call 08000 556 056 or go to www.aviva.co.uk/athletics for more information.