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Athletics: Heartaches for tearful Harris after missing final.

Byline: By Brian Dick

Teenage starlet Amy Harris had to fight back the tears as she struggled to come to terms with the fact she had failed to make the long jump final on her Great Britain debut.

Even though her performance at the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham yesterday underlined the progress she has made in just a few months as a full-time athlete, the 19-year-old was distraught at missing out on her home track.

The Selly Oak-based competitor finished 15th in a field of 19 with a best jump of 6.39 metres as Portugal's Naide Gomes led the way to today's final with a leap of 6.68m. Viktoriya Rybalko from Ukraine claimed the last final place with 6.51m.

Harris' first effort, as well as a second of 6.20m delivered with a full 20cm to spare, enhanced her status as a rising force in British long jumping but was not enough to put her into the top eight who went through.

And that was a massive disappointment to the Birchfield Harrier. "There was a little bit of nerves but not enough for it to affect me," Harris said.

"I hoped to jump at least 6.47m or a personal best, because I knew that was what it would take to get to the final - I'd set my heart on getting there.

"It's even more disappointing because it's in Birmingham. I really wanted to do myself justice and go out there and do well.

"I am on a downer now. I'll go back there and cry for a little bit more, but I am sure my coach Ted King will tell me there is nothing to get too upset about."

Once Harris gets over her frustration, she will reflect on this indoor season and accept that it has been the best of her fledging career.

She came into the campaign with a lifetime best of 6.38m outdoors and 6.20m indoors. She has not only broken the latter mark on five occasions in the last month, she has improved her overall best to 6.47m and claimed her first senior national title at the AAA.

She has made genuine inroads into the lead of Britain's top long jumpers Kelly Sotherton and Jade Johnson and is set for warm-weather training in a few weeks after which she will return to compete outdoors.

When Harris comes back, she will ready herself for the European Under-23 Championships later in the summer and try to gain selection, most likely as a development athlete, for the World Championships in Osaka at the end of August.

CAPTION(S):

Amy Harris leaps but it wasn't for joy at the NIA
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 3, 2007
Words:448
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