13th August 2017
HAT-TRICK OF MEDALS AS SPRINT RELAY MEN EARN MAIDEN WORLD GOLD
Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s men’s 4x100m relay quartet obliterated the field as they sped to World Championship gold in front of an ecstatic home crowd, becoming the third fastest nation of all time.
The fantastic foursome of CJ Ujah (Stuart McMillan), Adam Gemili (Rana Reider), Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver) clocked a phenomenal 2017 world lead and new European record of 37.47 to claim GB & NI’s first ever world 4x100m relay gold medal.
Ujah ran the first leg and exploded out the of blocks, handing to Gemili who accelerated terrifically to give the Brits a notable lead.
Round the top bend Talbot held on superbly before Mitchell-Blake charged home, holding off the USA’s 100m silver medallist Christian Coleman as Jamaica’s star sprinter Usain Bolt, running his last ever race in an illustrious career, pulled up injured.
“I think the public have probably heard enough about us being the best generation of sprinting, with no results. So it’s nice we came here in front of our home crowd and did exactly what we thought we could,” said Talbot after the race.
“We had so much self-belief, we didn’t come here to just get on the podium, we came to win and that’s what we did. The time was a bonus, that wasn’t a focus of ours. Everything just came in to place tonight and we’re so happy.”
There was medal success for GB & NI minutes earlier as the women’s 4x100m quarter of Asha Philip (Steve Fudge), Desiree Henry (Rana Reider), Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) and Daryll Neita (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) went one better than the Olympic bronze they won in Rio last year – and the world bronze they secured in Beijing in 2015 – racing home to silver in 42.12.
Philip burst out the blocks and passed the baton to Henry, who sprinted hard to Asher-Smith. At the final exchange Neita was right up on the USA but she had the 100m champion Tori Bowie to contend with, and the American pulled clear just before the line, clocking a world lead 41.82. Bronze went to Jamaica in 42.19.
“Dina passed to me in a really great position and I was like ‘I’m going to run for my life here,’ and that’s what I did and I crossed the line and we got silver,” exclaimed Neita. “A great effort between the team and even better for the boys!”
For Asher-Smith, who broke her foot earlier in the year and missed much of the season recovering, the reality of what she had achieved had yet to sink in.
“I think I’m still in a dream phase, because I didn’t even know if I was going to be here and then suddenly I was like okay if I go and do the relay, I might hopefully get a run, because I might not be fast enough to be in the team.
“To transform that to winning a world silver which is the highest medal we have ever won is absolutely incredible. I’m still very much in a dream state.”
More medals came Great Britain’s way as Sir Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) capped off a memorable career with silver in the 5,000m at the London Stadium.
Farah, who won the 10,000m on the opening day of competition, sprinted down the home straight in his last ever major championship final to clinch silver behind Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris in 13:33.33.
The Briton has made no secret of the fact that he plans to focus on marathon racing after this season and he received the spectacular send-off he deserved from an enthusiastic crowd who roared him all the way around the 12.5 laps.
The 34-year-old went straight in to second place behind the USA’s Paul Chelimo at the gun, but soon it was Farah and fellow Briton Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) at the front – much to the delight of the capacity crowd.
Edris, who arrived in London as the fastest in the world this year, then briefly took his turn at the head of the pack, but after the half-way mark it was Australia’s Patrick Tiernan who really tried to stretch the field.
With two laps to go Tiernan was still out in front as Farah controlled the group a few metres behind. Farah soon caught up, but at the bell it was Edris and his compatriot Yomif Kejelcha who led the way. The Briton sprinted hard to keep in touch, with Chelimo right on his tail.
Down the home straight Farah found a vital gap, giving it everything as he raced past Kejelcha on the inside to grab silver.
“I wanted to win, I was confident that I would do whatever, but at the same time the better man won on the day. There is nothing you can do, it happens in athletics. I gave it my best, it wasn’t enough today,” said Farah, who had won 5,000m gold at the last three World Championships.
“For me as I’m getting older it’s getting a bit more challenging and that’s the reason I’m going to end on the track and go on to the roads. This is the end in terms of major championships – I’m done. I’ve closed that chapter of my life.”
Butchart finished an admirable eighth in 13:38.73, and said afterwards:
“You end up watching it on the big screen because they are so fast. I was kind of cheering on Mo in my head then I got caught on the line. I was spent. I just wasn’t there to react for the last part of it. I wanted to place higher but I’m happy enough.
“I left it hard for myself but I’m on par with these guys – I’m meant to be in these races, so it’s not like I’m expected to come last. I’m expected to do well and I put a lot of pressure on myself.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin) and Morgan Lake (Fuzz Caan) finished fifth and sixth respectively in the women’s high jump final.
Johnson-Thompson’s main focus is the heptathlon but she also holds the British record in the high jump and had progressed to tonight’s final looking like she had put her disappointing high jumping in the heptathlon behind her. The 24-year-old cleared a season’s best 1.95m to claim fifth place in the individual event and she admitted she was pleased with her performance.
“I’m happy with that, I’m happy with how I performed. It was my first ever high jump individual final, so I am over the moon,” said Johnson-Thompson.
“I felt fatigued from warm up – you don’t feel it when you’re out there but it has been a long week, but I’m so happy with how I performed, especially after how I performed in the heptathlon high jump, so I’m glad I got to bounce back.”
Lake, who won the national title last month, also cleared 1.95m – finishing sixth on countback.
“Last year I was just absolutely ecstatic to make the final (in Rio) and this year this is me coming sixth, so I think that just shows how much I’ve moved on this year and in an environment where I’ll hopefully be challenging for medals in years to come,” said the 20-year-old.
After two gruelling days of competition the men’s decathlon concluded with the javelin and finally the 1500m.
Going in to the final session Ashley Bryant (Aston Moore) sat in 18th place with 6428 points, but a season’s best throw of 67.97m in the javelin added 858 points to his tally.
Bryant then finished an impressive third in the 1500m, clocking a new personal best of 4:27.15 to round off his World Championship campaign with 8049 points in 11th place. The event was won by Frenchman Kevin Mayer with a world lead score of 8768.