13th August 2017
MEDALS GALORE FOR GB & NI RELAY QUARTETS AS LONDON 2017 CLOSES
Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s relay runners rounded off the 2017 IAAF World Championships in superb style, completing a clean sweep of medals as the women’s 4x400m team clinched silver and the men’s 4x400m quartet won bronze on the last day of competition in London.
Silver for the women’s quartet meant an improvement on the bronze they won in Beijing two years ago as well as at Rio 2016, while it was a second consecutive World bronze for GB &NI’s men.
Sunday’s double success followed just 24 hours after the men’s 4x100m relay team won gold and the women’s 4x100m quartet won silver.
Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna) led the women’s 4x400m team out at the gun, handing to Laviai Nielsen (Frank Adams) who put Eilidh Doyle (Brian Doyle) in a terrific position for the penultimate leg.
The Scot held on brilliantly despite tiring as she approached the line, passing the baton on to Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) who raced home behind the USA, crossing the line in 3:25.00.
“We knew were capable of getting a medal today, but we knew it would be tough – we all know America and Jamaica are strong, but then you’ve got Nigeria and Poland too,” said Doyle, the GB & NI team captain.
“For us to win a silver medal, when we always seem to be bronze, it’s just incredible to go one better and finish with that – it has been a great ending to what has been a great Championships.”
The USA clocked a world lead 3:19.02 while Jamaica failed to finish after Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby dropped to the ground injured on the second lap.
Matt Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) went out strongly in the men’s 4x400m, passing to Dwayne Cowan (Lloyd Cowan) who ran a brilliant second leg before Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) took over for the penultimate lap.
Racing in third place, Yousif chased the USA and Trinidad & Tobago hard, setting up Martyn Rooney (Graham Hedman) for an inspirational last lap, the crowd chanting his name as he extended the gap behind him to the fourth placed runner.
“I have never been set up like that before,” exclaimed Rooney afterwards. “Even when we won a medal in Beijing (2015 World Championships) it was a lot tighter and there was a lot more work to do.
“I am really proud to be part of this team. There are some big men on this team who really stood up out there. We all came together to discuss everything, we sorted it all out and the result is a medal which is incredible.”
The USA’s Fred Kerley tied up towards the line as Trinidad & Tobago came through for gold in a world lead 2:58.12, with the USA clocking 2:58.61 for second and GB & NI setting a season’s best 2:59.00.
Laura Muir (Andy Young) and Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) finished sixth and tenth respectively in a tough women’s 5,000m final which was won by Kenya’s Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri with a phenomenal last lap.
Muir, who finished fourth in the 1500m earlier in the Championships, faced a baptism of fire on the world stage over a distance which she has rarely raced, but the 24-year-old believes there are many positives she can take from her performance.
“To finish in the way I did makes me really happy. The African girls are so strong so I am pleased with how I ran,” said Muir.
“There are lots of positives. In my heat I was a bit tired, but I showed I could come back and I raced well today in the final, which is what really mattered.
“I thought I would do better in the heat than I did, but I showed how much I had learnt from my heat in this final. Going forward I believe there is a lot I can do competing at the two events.”
The race started slowly with Ethiopia’s 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana reluctantly taking to the front as the field jogged around the first couple of laps.
But after three laps Ayana, Obiri and Senbere Teferi moved up a gear and quickly stretched out the field.
By the half way point Ayana and Obiri had built up a substantial lead – gold and silver were taken, but the race was on for bronze as Muir and McColgan moved up to the first of the chasing groups, headed up by the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.
The final lap saw Obiri sprint clear as Muir kicked on further back, moving up to sixth and crossing the line in 14:52.07. McColgan clocked 15:00.43, just outside the personal best she set in the heats.
“It’s a shock to the system when you go from walking then in to a fast pace, and I think that’s definitely something I need to get used to doing. I struggled a bit in Rio with that; maybe I’ve not done enough 1500s or Championship races to experience that,” said McColgan.
“I can’t really be too disheartened as it’s been two 15-minute runs in the space of three days. My last three races have been worlds apart from where I’ve been competing for the last five years so, it’s exciting, it’s definitely progress.”
Sixth in the 800m at the Olympic Games last year, Lynsey Sharp (Terrence Mahon) was back up against the three women who clinched the medals in Rio – South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui.
Sat in fourth at bell, the Scot was positioned well; but with 600m to go, Semenya pushed on from the back of the field and by the time the home straight was in view, the South African was unstoppable, sprinting home to gold in a world lead 1:55.16 as Sharp slipped back to
finish eighth in 1:58.98.
Chris O’Hare (Terrence Mahon) was next up in the men’s 1,500m final, and the British champion was fourth behind Kenyan trio Elijah Manangoi, Timothy Cheruiyot and Asbel Kiprop with two laps to go.
But the 26-year-old Scot couldn’t match the speed of the leaders over the final 800m, finishing 12th in 3:38.28.
“The first lap was fine, I knew they were going to hit it at some point, so I was waiting for it. They went and I thought – here we go, the race is on,” O’Hare explained afterwards.
“I felt good and the plan was to stay comfortable. But that third lap was just horrible for me and I was stuck in a horrible cadence, a horrible tempo. It was just rubbish.
“I know I am so much better than last place today. It’s hard to process at the moment as I haven’t seen it. All I know is I wasn’t good enough today and it’s tough to take.”
World Indoor silver medallist Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Caan) crashed out of the high jump at 2.25m after failing to clear 2.29m. The 29-year-old, who won Olympic bronze in the same venue five years ago, was undeniably frustrated with his performance.
“I’m absolutely gutted. It was technically really bad, I don’t have any excuses or reasons, it was just way below what I’m capable of. It’s not the kind of performance I should be putting in in my career at this point in a major final,” said Grabatz, who has cleared 2.31m this season.
“It was definitely the last chance jumping in London like this and there aren’t going to be many more Worlds that I am going to be fit for, so it’s just such a missed opportunity.”
After ten memorable days of track and field, Great Britain and Northern Ireland finished sixth in the medals table with two gold, three silver and one bronze.