5th October 2019
ASHER-SMITH HISTORY AS GB & NI SPRINT RELAY TEAMS WIN SILVER ON PENULTIMATE DAY IN DOHA
The GB & NI men’s and women’s 4x100m relay teams both took silver on the penultimate night of the IAAF World Championships in Doha – which included an historic third medal for Dina Asher-Smith (club: Blackheath & Bromley; coach: John Blackie) – to take the British Athletics team tally to five.
The women’s 4x100m relay quartet of Asha Philip (Newham & Essex Beagles; Steve Fudge), Asher-Smith, Ashleigh Nelson (City of Stoke; Michael Afilaka) and Daryll Neita (Cambridge Harriers; Jonas Dodoo) matched their feat from London two years ago, claiming the silver medal in a season’s best 41.85.
For Asher-Smith it took her personal tally to three medals following silver in the 100m and gold in the 200m, both in British records, as she became the first GB & NI athlete ever to climb the podium three times at a single World Championships.
The men’s 4x100m relay quartet of Adam Gemili (Blackheath & Bromley; Rana Reider), Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet; Glen Mills), Richard Kilty (Middlesbrough (Mandale); Benke Blomkvist) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Lance Brauman; Newham & Essex Beagles) followed the women’s four and clocked a new European record of 37.36 for silver themselves.
For the women, a strong start by Philip, who replaced Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Sutton & District; Fudge) after she aggravated a thigh injury in warm up, was matched on the back straight by an excellent leg from Asher-Smith. Nelson flew around the bend and Neita brought the team home to silver, holding off the challenge of the United States.
Asher-Smith said: “I think we all handled the situation fantastically and it’s testament to the experience we’ve all got in the squad and between us. I don’t know how many championships we’ve done but we’ve got the experience to substitute people and it shows because we’ve almost run a personal best not having practiced any of these changes in warm-up. It’s been a good champs but this is a team event and it’s testament to all these other ladies’ hard work.”
Nelson added: “I was laughing being interviewed by my former training partner, Jeanette Kwakye, and today I’m crying because it’s my first time running the relay since 2014 and I means so much to me, my coach and everybody but I couldn’t have done it without these girls.”
Philip said: “I was ready, warmed up and ready to go as you have to be as a team member, you have to be ready for any situation and Imani stepped back and said she wasn’t comfortable forcing herself and putting the team into jeopardy and so I stepped in.”
Neita added: “I’m so proud of us girls. The anchor leg is a great leg to run and I’m so proud of us girls. With the last minute changes we proved we can still get the job done. I’m really proud of these girls, Imani rest up we love you and Kristal [Awuah] we love you too.”
In the men’s race Gemili’s starting leg and Hughes’ back straight gave the British team a strong start, backed up by Kilty’s bend. Mitchell-Blake made up the ground on the Japanese team, who were second coming off the bend, to earn the British team a silver medal, shaving 0.11s off the British record set in 2017.
After the race, team captain Kilty said: “It took an American record and the second-fastest time ever to beat us and we ran a European record. What a warrior this guy [Zharnel Hughes] is, when I’ve seen him flying down the straight and I thought I’d seen something happen so I had to slow up a bit but what a warrior. He ran through the zone with a pulled hamstring and anyone who’s done that knows how tough it is so he’s a warrior.”
Hughes said: “I think I strained my hamstring but I came out here tonight to give it my very best regardless. I was like ‘I have to give it to Richard regardless’ because I wanted the guys to get a medal including myself.”
Mitchell-Blake added: “It was a phenomenal effort from the guys. I’m really proud of the boys and it gives all of us fuel for the fire for next year, but let’s just enjoy the moment right now.”
Gemili said: “We ran a new British record and ran super-fast and sometimes you have to hold your hands and we tried our best and hopefully it was a good show for the crowd. We tried to run as best as we could and leaving with something is fantastic and puts that little spark in us for next year to push on.”
Elsewhere, Laura Muir (Dundee Hawkhill; Andy Young) produced an incredible season’s best of 3:55.76 but had to settle for fifth place in a rapid women’s 1500m final.
Muir stayed at the back through the opening lap before moving through the field to the fore with just over a lap to go, putting herself in a strong position at the bell. She continued the chase towards Sifan Hassan (NED) with 300m to go before the chasing pack just pulled away but she held off the challenge of Gabriella Debeus-Stafford (CAN), with Hassan clocking a Championship record of 3:51.95.
“I was fifth! Fifth with 3:55!! I couldn’t do any more than that. I’m actually really, really happy, I know it’s not a medal which is what I would have wanted but to run 3:55 and to be fifth – well that’s unheard of!,” said Muir.
“I am proud of myself to run that sort of time off the training that I have done. I never thought I was in that sort of shape. So yes to do that off that training gives me confidence to know that when 100 per cent – well how fast can I go?
“A couple of months ago I didn’t know if I was going to be here, I didn’t know if I was going to get to the final. So to run 3:55 with three races in my legs, well I’m speechless that that’s not on the podium. But I couldn’t have done anything more, I ran my heart out.”
Laura Weightman (Morpeth; Steve Cram) and Eilish McColgan (Dundee Hawkhill; Liz Nuttall) closed out their women’s 5000m campaigns with respective seventh and tenth-place finishes in the final, both clocking personal bests.
McColgan set the pace in the early stages before eventual winner Hellen Obiri (KEN) picked up the pace as the laps wore on, eventually winning in a Championship record of 14:26.72.
Weightman ran a patient race in the chasing pack behind the leaders and picked off Ethiopia’s Hawi Feysa on the final lap, stopping the clock in 14:44.57, taking seven seconds off her previous best, with McColgan measuring her run to take over a second off her previous best, clocking 14:46.17.
Weightman said: “You know it’s OK, I’m not in 14:20 shape but I believe I am in 14:35 to 40 shape so I would have liked to have been a little bit closer. But it’s a big PB so it’s ok. It’s a lot of progress and after my injury I’m really happy.
“It’s mixed emotions I think, I’m delighted with my PB, but I know I’m in 14:30 shape and when the gap was made I couldn’t cover it. There’s a lot more to come and in my first global championships to come seventh I am delighted.”
McColgan said: “I am a little disappointed because I feel there is more there and I am in much better shape than when I ran 47s, so to just run 46, I am like ‘urgh’ but it is still a PB and a Scottish record, my own record, but a little bit frustrating. I would have liked to have pushed into that top eight.”
Away from the finals action, three individual athletes and both the British 4x400m teams successfully progressed into finals and semi-finals on the penultimate day of action.
The both the women’s and men’s British 4x400m relay teams successfully qualified for tomorrow’s final, the women doing so automatically and the men as one of the non-automatic qualifiers.
The women’s four of Zoey Clark (Thames Valley; Eddie McKenna), Jodie Williams (Herts Phoenix; Stuart McMillan), Jessica Turner (Amber Valley & Erewash; Nick Dakin) and Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey) secured their spot in the final with a season’s best 3:24.99 for second in their heat.
After the race, Clark said: “In the heats the aim is always to qualify and we always wait until the start lists come out so we know how much of a difficult task we have. We always say we want to put our best team forward but we also want to save some for the final. It just about having the team we believe can qualify in those automatic positions.”
The men’s quartet of Cameron Chalmers (Guernsey; James Hillier), Rabah Yousif (Newham & Essex Beagles; Carol Williams), Lee Thompson (Sheffield & Dearne; John Henson) and Martyn Rooney (Croydon; Dakin) finished fifth in their heat in 3:01.96, making the final as a non-automatic qualifier.
In the individual events, Cindy Ofili (Woodford Green Essex Ladies; Jeff Porter) booked her place in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m hurdles with a third-place finish, dipping under 13-seconds for the second time this season with a 12.97 effort.
In the field, Abigail Irozuru (Sale Harriers Manchester; Self) and Shara Proctor (Birchfield Harriers; Rana Reider) secured their spots in tomorrow’s long jump final, but Jazmin Sawyers (City of Stoke; Brauman) failed to join them.
Irozuru’s first round 6.66m was bettered by a 6.70m in the second round, that saw her make the final in sixth place overall, with Proctor leaping out to 6.63m in the second round to qualify in eighth place overall. Sawyers’ second round best of 6.46m was not enough to make the final as she finished in 19th overall.
Irozuru booked her spot at her first ever IAAF World Championships final on her first appearance at the championships and hopes that she will be able to break the seven-metre barrier in tomorrow’s final.
“It is a good feeling,” she said. “I am now into a world final and I guess this is what I wanted at the start of the year, what I wanted since coming back to compete against the best in the world. I am here and I am one of the best in the world and that is a crazy thing to say.
“We all want to jump 6.75m in round one, that is what we all came to do. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case but I only had to do two rounds, which was really good and I get to save my legs for tomorrow and hopefully produce bigger distances. I do want to see a personal best.
“I do want to throw out to seven metres because why not if you are jumping well. Even if it doesn’t come tomorrow I believe that I am a seven-metre jumper and I want to see that.”
British medallists at the IAAF World Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Heptathlon
Dina Asher-Smith – 100m
Women – 4x100m Relay
Men – 4x100m Relay
4th – Adam Gemili – 200m
4th – Holly Bradshaw – Pole Vault
4th – Mixed 4x400m relay team
5th – Laura Muir – 1500m
6th – Zharnel Hughes – 100m
7th – Tom Bosworth – 20km Race Walk