12:08PM, Monday 02 August 2021
Getty Images for British Athletics
It’s been a cruel Olympic Games for a couple of Team GB’s track and field hopefuls, with Jessie Knight falling at the first hurdle of her 400m hurdles heat and Twyford’s Zak Seddon finishing second to last in the 3,000m steeplechase heats.
Both athletes were forced to self-isolate on their arrival in Japan after being deemed close contacts of someone who tested positive for COVID on their flight from Heathrow.
Quarantined, and unable to train for a period, they both missed out on the crucial final phase of their preparation for the Games and, coincidentally or not, failed to perform in heats of their respective events.
Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow athlete (WSEH) Knight, 27, put her role as a primary school teacher on hold to train full times for these Games, however, was beset by bad luck from the moment she stepped onto the plane. Allowed out of isolation ahead of her heats, she suffered further misfortune in the opening seconds of her heat when she tripped and fell into the first hurdle, getting herself tangled up in the obstacle as her rivals galloped away from here.
Not surprisingly, given all the sacrifices made to make the start line of an Olympics, the tears quickly came, however, she does have a chance to redeem herself and her experience of these Games when she takes part in the 4x400m relay later this week.
Zak Seddon, who grew up in Twyford and went to the Piggott School, was another of the six British athletes forced to isolate on their arrival in Japan. However, he stoically refused to blame this for his early exit from the competition on Friday.
Seddon finished 14th overall, 22 seconds adrift of his personal best in a time of 8.43.29, but, speaking with Eurosport afterwards, refused to feel sorry for himself. He said: “It's not been great and mentally it’s been hard, here, there and everywhere, but, in this day and age, that’s what sport is.
“Some athletes are going to get easier rides in than others, but you have to deal with it – you don’t get points on the finish line for having different build-ups, you know? The numbers on the scoreboard are what counts.
“Rules are rules and if I want to show up here and run at the Games, I have to abide by them. If some have to suffer for the many, I suppose that’s better than everyone not having a Games.”
WSEH’s remaining Olympic hopeful Morgan Lake has a few more days to wait before the women’s high jump competition gets underway on Thursday. The British champion will be hoping to qualify for the final on Saturday.
Away from the Olympic stadium, Great Britain’s reigning canoe sprint champion Liam Heath will hope to paddle his way to further Games glory in the final of the K1 200m, Thursday morning, 3.25am UK time. The Maidenhead athlete has won two world titles since triumphing in Rio in 2016, however, Hungary’s Sandor Totka is shaping up to be a formidable rival for gold.
Great Britain’s women’s hockey team will take on Spain for a place in the semi-finals this afternoon (1pm UK time). The team includes Maidenhead residents Shona McCallin, Ellie Rayer, Giselle Ansley, Hannah Martin and Maddie Hinch.