1st August 2021


Tom Gale finished 11th in the men’s high jump final, while Zharnel Hughes helped make British athletics history by reaching the men’s 100m final but a disqualification followed on a dramatic night at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

A blistering semi-final run from Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet) saw him finish strongly to win his heat ahead of Nigeria’s Enoch Adegoke and world leader Trayvon Bromell (USA) in a season’s best time of 9.98s (wind: -0.2m/s).

That meant that for the first time in 37 years – since Mike McFarlane and Heather Oakes accomplished the feat at Los Angeles 1984 – Team GB had athletes in both the men’s and women’s 100m Olympic final, after Daryll Neita’s exploits 24 hours earlier.

Anticipation was high for the final, always one of the blue riband events of the entire Olympic Games, but Hughes left the starting blocks a fraction early due to his calf cramping up and was DQ’d for a false start.

“It wasn’t pressure. I wasn’t nervous. It’s just that my calf cramped up when I went up on ‘set’, and with the cramp I moved, which is heart-breaking,” explained Hughes.

“I’m really gutted right now. I worked too hard to be here to come and false start. It hurts a lot. I just have to gather my thoughts together now and try to re-focus for the 4 x 100m.

“Before I got here I was suffering with a psoas problem and the fact that I showed up and made it to the finals, I want to give credit to my team back there.”

The race itself was won by Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs as a brilliant European record of 9.80s handed him gold ahead of Fred Kerley (USA) and Canadian Andre de Grasse.

CJ Ujah (Ryan Freckleton, Enfield and Haringey) and Reece Prescod (Marvin Rowe, Enfield and Haringey) had also competed in the 100m semi-finals earlier in the evening.

Ujah finished fifth in the third semi-final in a time of 10.11s (+0.9), while Prescod also experienced a DQ after false-starting in the first track race of the evening.

“To be honest, it’s just my fault,” said Prescod. “I’m not going to shy away from it, not going to blame anything, or make an excuse for it. I’m a professional athlete. I shouldn’t have false started – I was amped up, I was really, really amped up.

“It happens, but it’s the Olympics. Obviously now I’ve got to stay mentally strong and focus on bringing my efforts to the relay – that’s going to be fun.”

Meanwhile, after three incredibly high-quality men’s 800m semi-finals, Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) and Daniel Rowden (Matt Yates, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) can consider themselves unlucky to have narrowly missed out on places in the final.

In a heat that included 2019 World Championship medallists Ferguson Rotich (KEN) and Amel Tuka (BIH), as well as London 2012 silver medallist Nijel Amos (BOT), Giles decided to lead from the front.

With around 150 metres to go, there was drama as Amos appeared to fall over the back foot of USA’s Isaiah Jewett and both men went down, before the Brit contested a sprint down the home straight with Rotich and Tuka.

The Kenyan pulled clear to cross the line first, while Tuka narrowly pipped Giles to second and the 27-year-old’s time of 1:44.74 meant he missed out on qualification as a next fastest qualifier by just 0.44s.

“I felt good until 50 metres to go then the lactic sniper kicked in and, wow, my body just flooded,” said Giles.

“I just couldn’t get my legs moving, it was tough. I should have been strong enough to hold on to a 44 low, even if I did lead, but I wasn’t and ran a 44.7 so there’s not much I can say about that.”

In the previous heat, Rowden had tried to take an inside line down the home straight but admitted afterwards that the gap closed, causing him to lose his stride, and he finished fifth – despite a season’s best time of 1:44.35, just missing out on a place in the final by 0.05s.

In the men’s high jump final, Tom Gale (Denis Doyle, Team Bath) marked his Olympic debut with an 11th-place finish as Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) and Gianmarco Tamberi (ITA) shared gold.

Having cleared 2.19m, 2.24m and 2.27m at the first attempt, the 22-year-old fouled with all three attempts at 2.30m but will have learned a lot from his first Games.

Back on the track, sisters Tiffany Porter and Cindy Sember (both Jeff Porter, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) were looking to reach the women’s 100m hurdles final, just as they did at Rio 2016.

Running in the second semi-final, Porter clocked 12.86s (0.0) to finish fifth – three of the four athletes ahead of her recording personal bests – before her younger sibling contested the third semi-final.

Sember crossed the line in 12.76 (-0.2) to come seventh as Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PUR) broke the Olympic record in victory with a 12.26 and while neither sibling will be in Monday’s final, Porter relished the occasion in what she suggested could be her last competition.

“It was definitely a blessing having my sister here and to be able to experience this one last time with her,” said the 33-year-old.

“Obviously I would have preferred for things to go differently but that’s sport and I’m definitely going to hold my head up high knowing that every day of my career I put my best foot forward and I did it with integrity. So, I can definitely rest on that.”