JESSICA Judd will race for a place in the European Championships 800m final in Zurich tomorrow night.
The 19-year-old from Canvey came through her heat on Wednesday morning to seal her place in the semi-final which will take place live on BBC2 at 5.48pm.
Judd admitted afterwards that her legs “felt heavy” in her heat which was her first race since the Commonwealth Games 800m final nearly two weeks ago.
“I’m happy to have qualified,” she said. “I never feel good in the heats. My legs were a bit heavy but I qualified.”
Judd took her race by the scruff of the neck, leading the field through the first lap in a breezy 58 seconds, but found herself under pressure to secure a top three finish, and automatic qualification, as the race entered the final 150m.
But she held firm to finish third in 2m 2.30s.
Afterwards Judd said she hadn’t intended to take the race on, but when she found herself in that position she opted to stick with it.
“I didn’t really plan to take it on,” she said. “Rob (Denmark, Judd’s coach) said to just think on my feet and I did that.
“At the break no one took it on and I so I ended up at the front and so I just kept it going.
“I always feel rubbish in the heats and so I’m happy it’s over. Hopefully I can come back today and do better.”
Judd admitted it had been tough to pick herself up after finishing in fourth place and just outside the medals in the Commonwealth Games final but thanked her family and friends for lifting her spirits before she travelled out to Zurich.
She will be re-united with the silver medallist from the Commonwealth Games, her Great Britain team-mate Lynsey Sharp, in Thursday's semi-final.
In what looks like the tougher of the two semi-finals, she also has Russian dangerwoman Yekaterina Poistogova and the Czech Republic’s Lenka Masna who have both run inside two minutes this season.
The first three athletes in each semi-final and the two fastest losers will make Saturday’s final.
One benefit of Judd being in the second semi-final is she and the rest of the field will know what times they would need to run to get one of the two fastest losers spots having watched the first semi-final before stepping on to the track.