Melissa Courtney-Bryant

Melissa Courtney-Bryant, European Indoor Athletics Championships 2023 - Day 0. Pic: Getty Images.

Melissa Courtney-Bryant Cruises Into European Indoor Final

By Owen Morgan

Melissa Courtney-Bryant made sure she stayed out of trouble and expended as little energy as possible to reach the 3,000m final at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul.

Running in a slow second heat in Turkey on Thursday night, Courtney-Bryant had to keep her wits about her to stay out of trouble and eventually finish fourth to secure a place in Friday evening’s final.

With a short turnaround between heats and final, the 2018 Welsh Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist said afterwards: “I just wanted to do as little as possible today, we’ve only got 23 hours before the final.

“But it was difficult, it was very messy. There were a lot of girls grouped together, I thought people were going to go down, I got pushed in the back, I did yelp out a little scream and then moved towards the front. I needed to get out of the way.

“It’s hard, you constantly need to think on your toes, what position to be in and wait for that pace to ramp up because it did.”

Poole AC Runner Clinches Top Six Finish and Final Spot with 9:00.40 Clocking

When the pace did eventually increase, the Poole AC runner made sure she stayed in the leading group, finishing as was one of the top six athletes.

The 29-year-old jogged over the line in fourth place, clocking 9:00.40 – clinching an automatic place in the final.

Courtney Bryant, who won bronze over the same distance at these championships in 2019, expects a different kind of race in the final.

“I think the final might be a lot faster, but you never know, it’s championship racing, so yeah, we’ll just have to wait and see,” she said.

Having endured a difficult couple of seasons following a serious foot injury, Courtney-Bryant said she was delighted to be back approaching her best having made a return to international competition last season at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

The Welsh 3,000m and 5,000m record holder said: “It’s really nice to be doing this interview and not be crying because I’m really sad that I went out in the first round! “I’m delighted to be back to my normal self and I just want to go and prove that tomorrow, that I’m in really good shape and I can see what I can do.”

Courtney-Bryant will be joined in Friday evening’s final by fellow Great Britain team member Hannah Nuttall, who finished third in first heat in a time of 8:53.60.

Saturday morning will see Courtney-Bryant’s fellow Welsh athlete Jeremiah Azu start his 60m campaign. Meanwhile, the third Welsh member of the team – Swansea Harrier Joe Brier – hopes to be part of the GB 4×400 team in Sunday evening’s final.

You can follow all the action from Istanbul across the BBC.

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