Iwan Thomas successfully came through the first hurdle in the defence of his European 400 metres crown last night.
The 28-year-old cruised through his opening round heat at the Norwich Union Trials and AAA Championships in the Alexander Stadium here, winning in 47.55 seconds.
Thomas, who has been dogged by injury since completing a European and Commonwealth Games double four years ago, has to finish in the top two tomorrow to be guaranteed selection for next month's European Championships in Munich.
"I am pleased with the run," said Thomas, after reaching today's semi-finals. "I did not think about it – I just ran. I have done too much thinking recently."
But Thomas, who has been selected by Wales to defend his Commonwealth Games title in Manchester later this month, faces an uphill battle to claim one of the two places alongside Daniel Caines, who is guaranteed the discretionary slot. Caines was in the crowd for the opening night of the three-day meeting, having withdrawn to rest his "weak" ankles. All Thomas' rivals made it into the semi-finals, including his fellow Welshman Jamie Baulch, who won his heat in 47.20sec.
Belgrave's Sean Baldock won his race in 47.28 while Border's Jared Deacon clocked 46.84, winning his heat. But the fastest qualifier was another Welshman, Tim Benjamin, who won in 46.79.
Curtis Robb's hopes of gaining European selection to go along with his Commonwealth Games spot in the 800m were dashed when his injury jinx struck again. He dropped out after 350m so as not to risk his place for Manchester.
Cannock's James Mayo won the race in one minute 54.05sec to reach tomorrow's final where James McIlroy will join him after winning his heat in 1:50.55.
Barnsley's John Mayock won the 1500m to qualify for tomorrow's final in 3:42.71.
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