3rd August 2021


Jazmin Sawyers finished eighth in a high-quality women’s long jump final while Jake Heyward made a perfect start to his maiden major championship as all three of Britain’s male 1500m runners advanced to the semi-finals on a hectic Tuesday morning in Tokyo.

In the field, Sawyers produced the third-best wind legal leap of her career to finish eighth in a competition which was won by Germany’s Malaika Mihambo with a last round effort of 7.00m to edge out Brittany Reese (USA) and Ese Brume (NGR) who both jumped 6.97m.

Sawyers (Lance Brauman, City of Stoke) went out to 6.80m in the second round, only bettered this season by June’s 6.90m personal best in Chula Vista, USA.

Building momentum with 6.53m and 6.74 with the next two in her series, the 27-year-old earned three further jumps in the top eight. Sawyers would match her performance from Rio 2016 in her second Olympic final.

“I’m disappointed,” she said. “Top eight is good but at this point in my career, I’m not satisfied at all.

“If I’d have hit better positions in the air on my fourth jump, it could have been a different conversation. I rushed into my landing and should have been patient.

“I believe I can be on that podium, it just wasn’t good enough. I’ve got to go back and work harder, I believe there’s a champion in me, I just need to get her out.”

Two years after her return to the sport following a three-year absence, Abigail Irozuru (Aston Moore, Sale Harriers Manchester) finished 11th with 6.51m.

In the men’s 1500m heats, Jake Heyward (Mark Rowland, Cardiff).looked at home at the front of an Olympic heat featuring European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR), finishing first in 3:36.14.

After following the pace of Australia’s Stewart McSweyn over the first few laps, Heyward made his move on the final bend as the field became stretched out and casually brought it home for the heat win.

“I don’t think it could have gone much better to be fair,” said Heyward.

“I think I always give my best performances at championships, and I hope that showed a glimpse of what I can do.”

Scottish stars Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh) sealed safe passage in contrasting ways.

Kerr held a leading position until the straight when he was overtaken by six athletes, missing out on automatic qualifying but progressing on the strength of his 3:36.29 time.

“I don’t really see this as any different to any other major championships but sure I guess I could put it down to nerves, but it just wasn’t my day today,” he said.

Progress was more serene for Wightman, who finished third in a much slower heat, finishing in 3:41.18.

“I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard and felt like I could have eased in a little bit more, but we’ve got a day off after this so it’s not like we’ll be fighting for recovery,” he said.

In the women’s 400m. Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton, Herts Phoenix) negotiated her first outdoor major over the distance with an impressive heat run of 50:99.

“I executed my plan, I stayed nice and smooth, didn’t put too much int the first 300m really and got myself into a really good position to come home,” said Williams.

“I wanted to take the win because I know how important the semi-finals are, so I am happy.”

Ama Pipi (Linford Christie, Enfield and Haringey) was edged out of automatic semi-final qualification in the third heat but 51.17 was more than enough to advance.

“Getting through is always the aim and anything is possible if you just believe so I feel good,” said Pipi. “I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to stay in the moment.”

Unfortunately, Nicole Yeargin (Quincy Watts, Pitreavie) was disqualified in the fourth heat after initially finishing third and in an automatic qualifying spot. A lane infringement in her first few strides meant she didn’t join Pipi and Williams in the semi-finals set for Wednesday morning.

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Lance Brauman, Newham and Essex Beagles) missed out in the semi-finals of the men’s 200m, finishing fifth in his heat in a season’s best of 20.56 (-0.4), while Adam Gemili (Rana Reider, Blackheath and Bromley) pulled up a few strides out of the blocks with a hamstring injury and sadly did not advance.

“I’m just going to keep training and remain sharp and keep my mind in the game and if called upon go forward with the relay,” Mitchell-Blake said.

Meanwhile, Ben Williams (Aston Moore, City of Stoke) saw his Olympic debut end in the qualification round. He finished 12th with 16.30m.

“I am just heartbroken,” said Williams. “The body feels great, and the mind is right, and it just didn’t click today.”

A world record came crashing down in the final race of the morning with Norway’s Karsten Warholm lowering his own mark in the 400m hurdles and winning gold with 45.94.