25th August 2023


British record holder Zharnel Hughes (coach: Glen Mills, club: Shaftesbury Barnet) finished a fine fourth in the men’s 200m final on a blistering night at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest as teammate Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers) stormed to another personal best to place fifth in the women’s equivalent with Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) seventh.

Hughes has created a huge buzz this season and that continued in Budapest with bronze in the men’s 100m – the first medal for a British male at the World Championships in 20 years – and he came so close to adding doubling up in the men’s 200m final as he ran 20.02 seconds to finish fourth, 0.21 away from Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo in third but still a fine effort from the 28-year-old.

Neita has been in fine form in the women’s 200m and once again lowered her personal best as she stormed to fifth in a blistering final – the first of her World Championship career and won by Jamaican Shericka Jackson in a Championship record 21.41 – clocking 22.16 while British teammate Asher-Smith, who placed eighth in the women’s 100m final, improved one place to seventh with a time of 22.34.

There were four sets of qualifying action for the British team on the seventh night with Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter, Leigh) and Jemma Reekie (Jon Bigg, Kilbarchan) equally as impressive as each other as they won their semi-finals in the women’s 800m. Hodgkinson controlled and cruised to clock a time of 1:58.48 minutes while Reekie produced an impressive turn of speed over the last 150m, going from last to first to win in 2:00.28.

The British women’s 4x100m relay quartet progressed confidently into the final after a superb race from Asha Phillip (Amy Deem, Newham and Essex Beagles), Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Ryan Freckleton, Sutton & District), Bianca Williams (Linford Christie, Thames Valley) and Annie Tagoe (Vince Anderson, Thames Valley) – clocking 42.33 for second in their heat and fifth overall with plenty to come in the final.

In Hughes’ absence, the British men’s 4x100m relay quartet of Jeremiah Azu (Marco Airale, Cardiff), Adam Gemili (Marco Airale, Blackheath & Bromley), Jona Efoloko (Clarence Callender, Sale Harriers Manchester) and Eugene Amo-Dadzie (Steve Fudge, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) did enough to qualify automatically from their heat in third place in 38.01, the latter producing a storming last leg to guarantee that progression.

Hughes came into the men’s 200m final having posted 19.99 in the heats and 20.02 in the semi-final and he was consistent again as he clocked that 20.02 for fourth. He powered out of the blocks and was with the leaders out of the bend.

The British record holder over both the 100m and 200m, both claimed this season, pushed all the way to the line but would see Tebogo just finish ahead of him while American pair Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton took gold and silver in 19.52 and 19.75 respectively.

Hughes will return to the track in 24 hours for the men’s 4x100m relay final after the British quartet qualified earlier during the seven evening session and he said: “I gave it my best – and I got fourth – but I gave it my best so that’s not something to be disappointed about.

“Obviously I wanted to be on the podium, but that’s nothing to be disappointed about – I am still happy. You saw how close I was – I think if I was in a better lane I would have been on that podium.

“I stayed relaxed enough but obviously I had to work the bend twice as hard as those guys up there because they have little bend to run I have all the bend to run so I needed to make up the stagger as quickly as I can and save something for the home straight.

“I think I did that, but those guys were too far ahead for me to catch. Not that far from the bronze and that can be a bit annoying but hey. I have something to go home with and that’s all that matters to me.

“Hopefully tomorrow with the guys in the relay we can bring our A game and be spot on with the checkmarks and hand-offs, we should be OK. Tomorrow is the last one and whatever leg they put me on I’m going to do damage.”

The anticipation for the women’s 200m final involving Neita and Asher-Smith was palpable all evening. The British pair were drawn in lanes next to each – five and four – and both powered out of the blocks as it was clear already a blistering race was on.

Neita and Asher-Smith were well in the mix through the first 100m before things started to change. Neita pulled away from her teammate and kept it going to keep her hopes of a bronze alive through the next 50m of the race.

However as Shericka Jackson streaked away to win in a Championship record 21.41, American pair Gabby Thomas and Sha’Carri Richardson just edged ahead of the Briton who placed fifth in another brilliant personal best 22.16.

That was 0.05 quicker than the personal best she ran in the semi-finals and Neita said: “It might sound crazy to say I wanted a medal, but I did. But I am so happy to come fifth and a PB. It was such an incredibly fast race, so it is amazing to set a PB in one of the fastest ever women’s 200m finals.

“I am really growing as an athlete and it bodes well for next year. It has been such an amazing season for me. I dabbled in this new event at the start of the year and it’s the first season I’ve properly gone for it over 200m. I’ve been learning so much in this event this year.

“To qualify for these Championships, to make the final, to PB every single round and to come fifth place in the world, I am just so happy and words cannot explain it. I always aim to be on a podium, and people might think I’m pretty delusional but I don’t care.

“I get on the plane and get to where I am going and I want to win. That should always be the aim. But to come here, set personal bests, to come fifth in the final, shows that I am aiming for the right things and I am getting closer and that’s the only thing that matters.”

As mentioned, Asher-Smith – the world champion over the distance in 2019 – was in contention through the first 100m of the women’s 200m final but didn’t have the speed down the second half of the race as she clocked 22.34 to finish seventh.

It was a one place improvement on her eighth in the women’s 100m final and she said: “With everything how it has been, I think I executed it pretty well. Obviously I would have wished that this World Champs was very, very different for me. I’ve been feeling like I am in great shape, but I had a very bumpy ride through the 100m.

“So, I am happy to have come out here, I am happy to have competed. In a world final I don’t want to be running times that are behind where I want to be, but it’s done. That is sport really, I have been feeling great all year especially through my 100m.

“I really was coming here looking for a 10.7 – I was on my way to that in the semi-final and then it went upside down. I am definitely looking forward to Paris next year. I am really motivated because I know when I am at my best – I’m among the medals, I’m up there – that’s definitely where I am at. I’ve done the best with the cards I’ve been dealt this week.”

Drawn in the first of the three women’s 800m semi-finals, Hodgkinson went through the first 100m quicker than anyone else and initially thought about leading after the cut in but decided to go shoulder to shoulder with American Nia Akins.

By the bell Hodgkinson was leading though and in control – the first lap clocked at 58.48 – and she then stretched down the back straight but was still not working too hard. Over the last 200m Hodgkinson strung the field out and pushed away.

She cruised down the home straight although Akins wanted to take the win off the Brit and attempted to reel her in, but Hodgkinson wasn’t having any of it and sped up to cross first in a time of 1:58.48 – second fastest overall.

Hodgkinson said: “Definitely the main aim was to get there [the final] first. I was really up for today. I was really excited to get going again and it felt really comfortable which is positive and a confidence booster ahead of the final. I am looking forward to it. The stadium is amazing, the vibe is amazing so good hopes for Sunday.

“You can never really predict [what will happen in the final]. I think today we talked about either me taking it on or if anyone else felt like they wanted to – go ahead, just stay in good positions and be patient. But I felt really good so I was happy to take it on today. It is still hot but evening sessions it is a lot nicer so we are coping alright. The team at British Athletics has done a really good job of keeping us cool.”

There was actually little to separate the performances of Hodgkinson and Reekie, in their two women’s 800m semi-finals. Reekie was in the second of the three and followed American Raevyn Rogers through the first 100m.

Like Hodgkinson she went shoulder to shoulder with the American after the cut in before Jamaican Natoya Goule-Toppin came barging through. She was very well positioned at the bell as they went through very slow in 1:01.26.

Down the back straight the field was in two rows and with 200m Reekie wasn’t well positioned, fading to the back. However, she corrected her mistake, finding a lane on the inside to pick through the field before weaving down the home straight to take the win.

The last 60m saw Reekie go from fourth, cut from lane one to lane three to find the gap and kick on to take an impressive victory in 2:00.28 – slower than Hodgkinson but her surge for the win was no less impressive.

Reekie said: “I wanted to come top two and I have done that but I would have liked to have not left it so late, but it’s good practice. I’ve been working a lot with Jon [Bigg] and Sally [Gunnell] on the physical and mental [side] so I felt good coming into this.

“I’ve been working on my speed and I knew it was good but I was more scared that gap wasn’t going to open up so I was more powering through so I would have a shot at a fastest losers spot. But the gaps opened up and I won it so all good. I think I am in really good shape. I just can’t run like that in the final and I will be fine.”

The British women’s 4x100m relay has long been a well-oiled machine – they have medalled from three of the past five World Championships since 2013 – and Philip ran a superb opening leg as usual to set the quartet up superbly.

Lansiquot put the disappointment of her disqualification in the 100m final individually in Budapest firmly to one side to power down the back straight before handing over to Williams, who is in red-hot form at these Championships.

Their changeover was a touch high but Williams, who smashed a nine-year personal best in the 200m semi-finals last night, ran an excellent bend and handed over very nicely to newcomer into the team Tagoe.

Tagoe – on her World Championship debut – was brilliant on anchor, not catching the Jamaican quartet for victory, but second secured automatic qualification into the final and their time of 42.33 – for fifth overall – was very promising indeed.

Philip said: “I love going first even though those legs are a bit scary for me. I am always happy to set the girls off [with] a good start and hand off to Imani. We have got such a great changeover, we trust each other so much because we have got that bond. It is smooth sailing and I am really happy that I got to run and pass to Imani.”

Tagoe added, “It has been ten long years of injuries so it is really nice to be back and racing internationally. These girls have helped me so much this week. It is such a great team to be part of and I know how hard it is to be part of the relay because it is such a tight squad. I have been welcomed so nicely.”

Earlier – Azu got the British men’s 4x100m relay squad off to a brilliant start in the second heat – handing over to Gemili, now the only remaining member, of this quartet at least, from that 2019 world championships winning team, in full flow.

Gemili ran a solid leg down the back straight to pass to Efoloko, who like Azu was part of the European Championship winning quartet last year, well positioned before the finale was left to newcomer Amo-Dadzie.

The three British legs so far had all been solid but Amo-Dadzie had a task on his hands as he received the baton in fourth place with only the top three qualifying automatically to the final on Saturday night.

However the semi-finalist in the 100m already here in Budapest, wasn’t fazed and ran a storming anchor leg, chasing down Bolade Ajomale of Canada to guarantee that top three spot with the British quartet’s time clocked at 38.01 – seventh overall.

Azu said: “I’ve been waiting all Champs – it has been hard. We were in Slovakia first [training camp], getting practices done – the sprinters were the very first ones out on the first day. It was good, good to be out here and ready to run fast tomorrow. Qualification is all that matters.”

Amo-Dadzie said: “Honestly – from day one – these guys have been unreal. I have had a wonderful environment to learn. These guys have been on it. They have drawn it all out of me. I have been watching GB relays for a long time as a fan, so it was a really special moment for me to come out here with the boys. They have been unbelievable – it’s an honour.”

Earlier in the day, Morgan Lake (Robbie Grabarz, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) advanced to the women’s high jump final best a best clearance of 1.92m to finish fourth overall.

After a nervy start with two fouls at 1.85m, she sailed over on her third and final attempt to keep herself in the running as she hunted a world final spot. First time clearances of 1.89m and 1.92m were achieved at the first time of asking which saw her move into Sunday’s showcase.

Afterwards, she reflected, “A lot of nerves on the opening bar that was the main thing. On the first bar, I didn’t actually realise it was my go and I was tightening my shoelaces up and saw my name on the board. Then I had to run over to my mark and I think just then I hadn’t had the right prep into that first bar, which was a rookie error – Need to always know your order!

“But then getting over that on the 3rd attempt, showed me I do have mentality to jump the bar in front of me when I really need to. Taking that into the 89 and 92 was really good because I got those nerves out of the way and I knew I was here to do what I’d done all season – jumping and jumping high!”

The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally:

Gold (2): Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Women’s Heptathlon, Josh Kerr – Men’s 1500m

Silver (2): Mixed 4x400m Relay, Matthew Hudson-Smith – Men’s 400m

Bronze (1): Zharnel Hughes – Men’s 100m