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Hatton Britain's best despite injury

DARREN HATTON: "invaluable experience." Picture: ADY KERRY
DARREN HATTON: "invaluable experience." Picture: ADY KERRY

KENT decathlete Darren Hatton made an immediate impact on the international stage at the European Cup of Combined Events match in Tallinn, Estonia.

The 24-year-old from Seasalter, near Whitstable, who was making his cup debut for Great Britain and Northern Ireland as stand-in for the injured Dean Macey, won the cup for best performance by a British athlete for his battling display.

Despite suffering from injury, the Ashford AC member kept going to finish sixth with 21,830 points and help Britain fight off the threat of relegation.

He said: “I’ve had injury problems this year and after the 100m there were a few niggles.

I was the fourth ranked guy in the team and if I had dropped out it would have put the pressure on the others.

“For example if one of them had three no-jumps in the long jump then my scoring counted, so because I kept going it took pressure off them.

“But the niggles were piling up and I slogged my guts out for the whole weekend.

Charles Van Commenee (UK Athletics’ technical director for combined events) presented me with the cup saying it was for my performance, determination and bravery.

“All selectors said to me that because of the way I performed I would be in their thoughts for the future. They knew I had problems, but saw I showed grit and determination.”

Britain fought doggedly on the opening day. Hatton had the nerve-wracking task of launching the team effort in the first heat of the 100m (with the wind blustering up to +2.7). He clocked 11.57 seconds for 738 points.

In the long jump, he managed 6.50m for 697 points, followed by two no-jumps.

Undaunted by his traumas with the take-off board, Hatton was the best of the Brits in the third event, the shot.

He improved through 12.49m and 12.59m to 12.94m for 664 points.

In the high jump, he cleared 1.85m (670 points) and, in the fifth and final first day event, the 400m, Hatton clocked 53.40 for 665 points.

The up-shot was that the team ended the day in seventh place, facing a battle to climb above the relegation zone.

The second day began with the 110m hurdles and heat 1 (wind: +1.5) Hatton finished seventh in 16.39 (689 points).

Next came the discus in which he threw 35.66m for 577 points. In the pole vault he cleared a decathlon personal best of 4.40m (731 points), before throwing 52.18m (621 points) in the javelin.

Super-human efforts in the final event, the 1500m, ensured Britain stayed in League 1.

Non-scorer Hatton was 13th in 5:13.36 for 485 points, while the GB top three got 2,340 points between them.

Their Hungarian counterparts managed just 2028, a difference of 312, which sealed the difference between League 1 next year and relegation.

Hungary (21,323) and Latvia (21,001) went down. Poland won with 23,082 points from Estonia, who included Olympic champion Erki Nool.

Netherlands were third (22,637), Switzerland fourth (22,551) and Spain fifth (22,151).

Hatton said: "We were predicted to come last because we were the youngest team by a long way, but as we went through we started to do better and there was more belief.

“We stayed up and it was great weekend for Britain because the women got promoted with more points than the winners of the Super League match. Being part of the event was an invaluable experience.”

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