21 August 2009
Day seven at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany and following a week of blisteringly hot and sunny weather, the heavens opened above the Olympiastadion covering the track and infield in enormous lakes of rainwater.
With the evening’s programme delayed by more than 40 minutes, even when the athletes returned to the track the rain was still significantly more than a light shower.
The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team were warmed however by the sight of the men’s sprint relay squad and Lisa Dobriskey reaching their respective finals.
In the first of the two evening finals featuring Brits, Emily Freeman (Wakefield) took to the track for the women’s 200m having set a lifetime best to reach this stage.
And although on paper she was ranked the slowest of the athletes lined up, she let none of the big occasion affect her sharpness, and blasted out of the blocks with the quickest reaction time. It was not enough to hold the field at bay however, and over the second 100m the class of eventual winner Allyson Felix (USA) shone through taking the gold in 22.02, with Freeman seventh with 22.98.
It gave Freeman an appetite for more championship success:
“I’m pleased with the time yesterday and I’m pleased to get to the final, but I need more practice racing these kinds of girls,” she said.
“If someone would have said before I got here what I would do, I would have taken the place in the final and the PB as well. I’ll learn from it and come back stronger. It’s the relay tomorrow so I’ll go back, recover and get ready for that and give them everything.”
The men’s 400m final proved to be one race too many for GB and NI’s Michael Bingham (unattached) who, running in lane eight, finished seventh in a race won by USA’s LaShawn Merritt in a world leading time of 44.06.
Bingham, who ran a PB to finish second in his semi final, struggled on the run in and crossed the line in 45.46.
It’s not that I’m not fit and I know I had a lot more gas,” he said. “Two days ago I felt like I was flying and the next day i was recovered already.
“To go out there in lane eight and have world class guys behind you, I know I should be on the medal stand right now.”
In the women’s 1500m semi finals Lisa Dobriskey (Ashford) looked a class act as she made certain of a place in the final with a self assured third place in her heat.
It was vintage Dobriskey, remaining off the pace for the majority of the race then moving up the outside from the bell onwards until the home straight sprint. Crossing the line in third with 4:03.84, it was another accomplished performance from the Olympic Games fourth placer who was bubbly as ever in her post-race reflection:
“I’m really, really pleased. I just really wanted to make the final. Just to do that is a big achievement for me,” she said.
“As an athlete you just always want to achieve your potential and to have come here and not make the final, I don’t think I could have done that.
“In the past it would have been a bonus to just be in the final, and I would have been really grateful for that but now it’s expected.
“I’ve been put in a really privileged position with funding and UKA and the medical support I have and the attention that I receive from my coach – so much goes into me that I want to pay people back and thank them.”
In the men’s 800m semi finals, Michael Rimmer (Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton) was unable to repeat the achievements of both Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro by making the final. He finished seventh in his heat with 1:46.77.
In a tactical race he lacked the legs on the last lap burn up and was unable to make any impact on the group that sprinted away on the home straight.
“I just wasn’t there. It’s just one of those things. With that sort of time I’ve run it so many times,” he said in frustration.
“I just wasn’t on it for most of the race, I had this horrible feeling. It was really frustrating and not a nice feeling.
“I ran quick yesterday and it should have been no problem. I’m the healthiest I’ve been for ages, but obviously not as fit as I thought. After the other heats I thought ‘this is open’. I was thinking ‘I want a piece of this’ but just couldn’t quite get up near the front.”
In the men’s javelin Mervin Luckwell (Marshall Milton Keynes) was unfortunate to be part of the second qualifying pool that took place early in the evening session – and was subjected to a torrential evening rainstorm.
With the wind also kicking up against the throwers, the odds were against the entire field replicating their best form – and it showed as the distances suffered; Luckwell opening with 65.02m and then 61.42m. With two out of the three rounds completed in the downpour, officials took the decision to delay the programme for 40 minutes, and the throwers were forced to return to warm up once more, for one final throw.
Luckwell however could not produce the goods and his best throw of 66.30m meant he would not progress in what had been a harsh World Championship debut.
“I’m really disappointed with my distance today, my technique was really ropey and the distance told on it,” he said.
“The rain didn’t help at all. During the break I tried to keep nice and relaxed, do a bit of stretching and keep nice and loose and warm.
“I needed to keep my arm back and keep nice and big but I was going a lot smaller than I normally do. I felt more than prepared – but I just couldn’t perform on the day.”
The men’s 4x100m squad of Simeon Williamson (Highgate), Tyrone Edgar (Newham & Essex), Marlon Devonish (Coventry Godiva) and Harry Aikines Aryeetey (Sutton) put together a series of safe yet effective baton exchanges to easily make Saturday’s 4x100m relay final.
It was an impressive run from the quartet who knew that medal hopes begin with qualification and did just that in emphatic fashion, their 38.11 for second behind the USA placing them second fastest going into the final.
There was then an even more intriguing turn of events when it later transpired that the USA team began one of their exchanges before the official exchange zone, and were subsequently disqualified, leaving GB and NI top-ranked.
Yet the squad played down their performance, choosing to focus on the task ahead:
Edgar said: “We’re pretty happy but obviously it’s still just the heats. We’re just happy to get through to the final and we’re going to give it our all.
Devonish said: “We’ve done a whole heap of work this year and went out there and just executed comfortably.”
Williamson: “It’s been a hard year but we’ve put in the work and the practice and it’s shown today.
Aikines-Aryeetey added: “It’s nice to qualify and to be through to the next round. We need to do the job that we need to do and just make GB proud.”