22 August 2009
The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland men’s 4x100m relay team produced a super slick operation to take bronze on the penultimate afternoon session at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in a season’s best of 38.02.
If it isn’t broken don’t fix it was the motto for team selection as the successful quartet who finished first in their heat (following USA’s disqualification) returned to the track to contend for a podium spot.
Simeon Williamson (Highgate), who was in charge of the first leg, got out of the blocks strongly running the bend well as he delivered the baton successfully to 100m finalist Tyrone Edgar (Newham & Essex).
Edgar ran the first straight at blistering pace amidst challenges on either side from his hungry rivals transporting the goods safely to a ready and waiting Olympic relay gold medalist Marlon Devonish (Coventry).
Devonish ran the third leg bend, suited to his 200m qualifications, successfully and gave anchor Harry Aikines Aryeetey (Sutton) the best possible advance to hold the team in third place all the way to the line, with Japan and Canada on his shoulder.
A jubilant Williamson said: “It felt like a good run. The changeovers were better than yesterday and I think they can get better. To come away with a medal is a great achievement for me and the team and everyone is really happy.
“Yesterday we just wanted to get the baton round. Yesterday was about qualification and today was about stretching it a bit more and getting a medal.”
Harry “Amazing” Aikines- Aryeteey didn’t try to hide his excitement: “Absolutely amazing to come through the junior ranks and be successful there but at the same time being part of a team for GB. I'm just happy to compete with these guys happy to have worked really hard and have got the medal. It's amazing to cross the line on the world class stage and know you've got your medal.
“It's amazing to be able to share this feeling and I want to say thanks to the people in the back room such as Matt Lancaster, Pierre McCourt and Michael Khmel and of course Craig Pickering and Rikki Fifton who are part of this team too. It's amazing, you just want so much more!”
Edgar added: “It's a great feeling to get a bronze medal after the hard work we've done. We've got such a young group, with Simeon in his early 20's, I'm 27, Harry's 21 and Marlon still looks young so to have a team like this going on and getting bronze it is only going to get better through 2010, 2011 and in 2012 we're really going to be up there. It's just a great feeling to get bronze, now I've got a taste of it I just want more.
“I've had a great season, but this has given me a boost to go back to training and get even better, so hopefully in the next two years you're going to see us get gold.”
Devonish wrapped up: “I'm very proud of the guys, very proud. I've won a lot of medals and it's nice to share this experience. We've had a lot of focus in the semi final and we had the same discipline right through to the final, but it's all about the medals. This is a massive catalyst for us to go on and get better.
“We've trained so hard, almost sacrificed part of our individual events to do the relay. It was very important that we had a medal today. The relay can always go pear-shaped, there are so many variables so it is a blessing we have come back with another medal.”
In the other finals of the evening GB&NI produced four top eight finishers securing their place as front runners of international athletics and leaving them in sixth place on the medals table going into the final day.
Greg Rutherford (Marshall Milton Keynes), who returned to the final of the men’s long jump as the new British record holder following his one and only qualification jump of 8.30m, took fifth place overall with a best jump of 8.17m.
He began his medal campaign with first efforts of 7.83m and 7.96m which has promised more to come as he eased his way into competition. On his third jump Rutherford strongly contested a recorded no jump, lingering by the board with the officials to get a closer look at the spike mark which has rendered his third attempt of six useless. Even going into the video evidence room with the judge.
Improving slowly but surely he took his distances through 8.05m and 8.15m, waiting for technical elements to click into place and give him a more secure distance- which finally did and offered 8.17m as a best.
He said: “My third jump was called as a foul and I looked at the plasticine and I couldn't see the mark so he took me off to video evidence and still with both of us looking I couldn't see a mark. One guy in video evidence said he agreed with me and the other said he agreed with the judge.
“I've just got to be professional about it, It's done, It's been and it's fine. I've still made world top eight. I felt very good out there today, but it was just technical faults that were letting me down.
“Look, it's not a total disaster, I arrived in Berlin with a season’s best of 8.06m off the back of illness and injury and now I'm GB record holder at 8.30 and have just come 5th in world, and I'm ranked 9th now, which is the first time I've broken into the top ten. So I'll take that this year.”
Teammate and training partner Chris Tomlinson (Newham & Essex Beagles) was narrowly outside of the big jump he needed during his final campaign, despite producing a great first effort of 8.02m for his opening leap and threatening progress throughout.
Finding distances of the same variety thereafter he recorded 7.93m for his second and third effort and 7.66m for his fourth. He improved to 8.06m on jump five and finished the event on 8.02m which, unfortunately for the World Indoor silver medalist, just didn’t match the standards set by the rest of the field.
Trying to hide his disappointment he said: “Eighth is all right. Steady Eddie that's me. I've had a new coach for last few months and it's been going really well, maybe if I had a few months longer it might have been different and we could have worked on my fly and land. I can take off great, but we need to work on my fly and land so that's for me and my coach to do now and I will definitely be banging out some much bigger distances.
“This has probably been my best and most consistent season so far so yes I'm happy. Long Jump is pretty competitive at the moment and I know I've got a big jump in there. It's Gateshead next for me now and I'm looking forward to competing there. I have plenty of mates there and family and I'm a Boro lad so they'll be heading up the A 19 no doubt!”
After an opening falter and clearance at 5.50m Steve Lewis (Newham & Essex Beagles) continued the rest of his men’s pole vault final in an unusual rollercoaster fashion no heighting on his first try at 5.65m, the result of a disrupted approach, then making up for it on his second attempt with an easy vault.
The usually consistent and confident jumper finally met his match at 5.75m, which would have equaled his personal best. After cutting short his jump on his first two tries he managed to make it to the bar successfully on his final effort but brought it down with him in the process, ending his Berlin dream in a respectable seventh place.
The 23 year old said: “I feel good, I've had a really good championships, I've backed up what I did in qualifying but I really feel I'm in better shape. 5.75 is difficult but on my 2nd attempt I twisted my ankle a little bit as I took off the floor. Then on the 3rd attempt I wasn't sure if I needed a bigger pole or not so I didn't change and then I got a really good attempt, probably my best jump of the year, it was just frustrating that I was on the wrong pole.
“I'm inspired to be part of a competition like that. It was really good experience coming this far and going for a PB in the final would have been a dream ending for me. But I'm still happy, I'm still progressing and this is my best championship result yet.”
In the final of the women’s 4x100m the GB&NI the team, made up of Laura Turner (Harrow), Montell Douglas (Blackheath & Bromley), Emily Freeman (Wakefield) and Emma Ania (Shaftesbury Barnet), ran a good race in a season’s best time of 43.16 to finish sixth overall.
The team was careful with the baton changes but lost ground somewhere along the way. Tuner began the operation, the seasoned sprinter getting out of the blocks quickly to give the squad a decent start. Douglas took over the honors and delivered comfortably to 200m finalist Freeman who in turn met anchor leg Ania who brought the team home.
On reflection Turner said: “I had a really good leg, I really enjoyed myself out there. Montell and I had a very good change, but it’s just that the other girls are flying.”
Ever the perfectionist, Douglas added: “It was really good. It was a bit different running from lane one. It’s really noisy out there but it’s a good atmosphere. I enjoyed it but I’m also disappointed.”
“It felt alright but obviously we’re disappointed with the result,” said Freeman. “We’ve been practicing hard but it just didn’t come together tonight. We’ll be back stronger. We’re just more determined every time we are getting close but not close enough and we want to make a medal.”
Ania concluded: “I can’t complain, overall I’m sad we didn’t get a medal but we got to the final and got the baton round.”
The team qualified earlier in the evening, emulating their male counterparts’ effort yesterday. Turner began proceedings well getting off to a good start on the first leg but a hairy changeover to Douglas left the girls striving to make up ground.
When the baton reached Freeman respective teams from the Germany and Colombia had the edge and although Ania battled all the way to the line, the girls qualifying with a fastest loser place in 43.34.
The women’s 4 x 400m team consisting of Nicola Sanders (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow), Vicky Barr (Rugby & Northampton), Jenny Meadows (Wigan), Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet) kept their medal hopes alive finishing fourth on 3:25.23, a seasons best, which was enough to allow safe passage into the final as the fastest losing team of both heats.
Sanders began the contest, producing a steady and safe 400m which led the baton to the expectant hands of Barr who ran well and had enough power left in her final 100m to safely pass the baton to Meadows in a good position.
The 800m bronze medalist produced another world class performance keeping the girls in contention and still finding enough to power down home straight to McConnell who ran safely on the shoulder of the front-running Jamaican for much of the lap only to be overtaken in the dying stages.
With the deafening support of the home crowd in the stadium the German anchor found extra determination with 30m to go and snuck past McConnell right on the line to take third and the last automatic qualifying place.
Following the race first leg runner Sanders said: “Our heat was way harder than the first one, but we are happy to be through and can concentrate on the final now. 3.25 is a good time with any team so we're pleased. I like the first leg, I tried to make up as many staggers as I could so I knew I did well as I was level with the Russians.
Barr added: “I just thought I'd go down the back straight and not go crazy. The heats aren't about racing, it's just about qualifying so I just tucked in behind and came home strong on the home straight.”
Still hyped up from her incredible run in the 800m final Meadows said: “I'm just running on adrenaline, I can count on one hand the amount of sleep I've had in the last three nights! I got the chance to run and I'm grateful for that, obviously Christine will come into the final and the legs will get shuffled around.”
“I was a bit annoyed that I let that German girl past me on the straight.” McConnell said, “It was ok, I just need to go quicker down the first part.”
The men’s team also grabbed a place in the final of their respective 4x400m battle.
Conrad Williams (Kent) looked strong for the opening 300m on the first leg and although he faded slightly he handed over to an eagerly waiting Rob Tobin (Basingstoke & Mid Hants).
Tobin, who overcooked his first 100m in order to keep the lead around the stagger, struggled on the run-in but handed the baton onto 400m hurdles finalist David Greene (Swansea).
Greene held himself back somewhat and found himself cut up slightly on the home- straight but handed on to super anchor-man Martyn Rooney (Croydon) on the fourth leg.
Rooney bided his time and on the home straight, moved into an automatic qualifying place of third in 3:01.91.
Tobin said: “I saw the French guy inside me so I had to go flat out round that bend to hold the stagger. I got out in front of him down the back straight that’s why I didn’t finish as strong as I should have.”
Rooney: “I took it quite easy and just made sure we qualified. In the past I would have gone down the back, overtaken two guys and sat on the Americans but today was all about qualifying.”
“I’m not as fast as the other guys at the start so I wasn’t surprised when they overtook me.” Green explained: I let myself get in a bad situation on the inside.”
Williams added: “I was thinking I need to get out on the B of the bang, making sure I got a nice pace in the first 50-60m. Once I got into the back straight the crowd basically took me home, then I saw Tobin waving for the baton and that gave me motivation to make sure my teammate got it in the best position possible. ”