10th August 2017
MITCHELL-BLAKE CLINCHES FOURTH IN FIRST WORLD FINAL
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver) charged home to clinch fourth place in a thrilling 200m final on day seven of the World Championships in London.
Racing in lane two, the 23-year-old gave it everything in the closing stages as he worked hard to chase down South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk to his outside as well as Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, but Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards also finished superbly to take the bronze medal ahead of the Brit.
Guliyev took gold in 20.09 with van Niekerk second in 20.11, just 0.001 seconds ahead of Richards, but the future is bright for Mitchell-Blake who looked like he belonged in his first ever global final, crossing the line in 20.24.
“I tried to be really aggressive from the start, I had a great tracker with Wayde in front of me but it wasn’t enough today,” he said.
“All you can do is focus on yourself and all you can control is your individual performance. Nothing is perfect in the sport, all you can do is try and execute in the best way you can. Regardless of how I feel about the race, it wasn’t enough to get a medal.”
British team captain Eilidh Doyle (Brian Doyle) couldn’t quite match the impressive pace of her rivals in the final of the women’s 400m hurdles, finishing eighth in 55.71 in a race dominated by US pair Kori Carter, who took gold in 53.07, and Dalilah Mohammad who won silver in 53.50.
“I went out hard. I took hurdle seven the wrong way and after that I was all over the place,” explained Doyle.
“If I had finished eighth and nailed the race I would’ve been happy, but I feel I could have gone a lot faster out there. I am not saying I could have finished amongst the medals but I feel I could have finished higher than eighth.”
Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) suffered a fracture to her foot in February which put paid to a significant part of her season but the British record holder will now line up in the final of the women’s 200m on Friday after an impressive race in the semis.
The 21-year-old underwent surgery earlier in the year, with screws inserted in her foot and her return to form has been no less than remarkable.
Running a terrific bend right behind Ivory Coast’s 100m silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, Asher-Smith sped down the home straight in second place to equal the season’s best time she set in the heats.
“I’m so over the moon, anything now is a bonus, even stepping on the track tomorrow night is going to mean so much,” said Asher-Smith, who was a kit carrier at the London 2012 Games.
“It’s been really hard, physically and mentally, because you keep telling yourself that you’re going to get better but maybe you’re not seeing the results immediately. You just have to keep that belief that you will be fine, and even though the odds are very much stacked against you, you can do it.
“I’m so happy to be back sprinting, and so happy to have made my third major final.”
Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) missed out after finishing sixth in her semi-final in 23.40.
“My coach said it will take me 18 months to get where I need to be and I am not even halfway there yet. This is just a stepping stone in the journey. Next year, I believe I can come back stronger both mentality and physically,” she said.
Three Scots were in action in the women’s 5,000m heats and first up was Laura Muir (Andy Young).
Days after narrowly missing out on a medal in the 1500m, Muir was back on the London track – this time up against a field including Ethiopia’s defending champion Almaz Ayana – 10,000m gold medallist last Saturday – and Kenya’s Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri.
With one lap to go the 24-year-old was comfortably sat in fifth place, having kept in the pack throughout. But with only the top five going through automatically Muir still had some work to do, and with 200m to go the tiredness showed in her face.
Coming off the final bend Muir slipped down to seventh before crossing the line in 14:59.34, but it secured a fastest loser’s spot in Sunday’s final.
“That was long. I ran as hard as I could and that was really fast,” said Muir, who hadn’t run a 5,000m since setting a new British Indoor record in January.
“It felt fine to be honest, apart from that last lap. I have another two or three days until the final so I should be recovered. I know I’m better than what I ran out there today and hopefully I can show it in the final.”
Next to go was Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) and Steph Twell (Mick Woods) in the second heat, and McColgan – a former steeplechaser – looked superb as she clocked a new personal best to go through automatically.
Molly Huddle had gone out early, building up a significant lead, but the pack closed down on the American on the final lap with Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey and the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan sprinting past around the final bend.
Behind them were four athletes chasing three automatic qualification spots – including McColgan, who held her own in the charge to the line, dipping for fourth place in 15:00.38.
“For me usually 15 minutes has my eyeballs out from the start, so to jog and really only pick up the last 600m – I’m over the moon with that, I’m really, really happy,” said McColgan.
“To run that time I’m really pleased, I couldn’t have asked for any more to be honest – automatic qualification and a new pb.”
Twell finished in 15th place in 15:41.29, well outside her personal best and she was understandably disappointed.
“It wasn’t me out there today, I just couldn’t respond. My body didn’t quite feel right, so I’m absolutely disappointed, but it was an awesome experience,” said the 27-year-old.
Scotland was also well-represented in the men’s 1500m heats with three athletes from Edinburgh AC taking to the track and both Chris O’Hare (Terrence Mahon) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) progressed to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
O’Hare moved up the field on the penultimate lap in his heat to get in to a great position before hitting the front with 150m to go. Coming down the home straight only two got past him – he finished third in 3:42.53.
“I got a bit carried away with 400m to go, the crowd picked me up a little bit too much so I need to be careful with that in the semis,” said O’Hare afterwards.
“With 150m to go I knew I had it, but I was a little tired so I need to make sure I’ve got another gear ready.”
Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) took his race on at the bell and the 23-year-old held his form strongly until the closing stages when three athletes snuck past, but he also secured an automatic qualifying spot finishing fourth.
“It was a bit shaky coming into this race and I wasn’t sure how I’d go, but the problems have blown out now so I’m ready for semis,” said Wightman, who clocked 3:38.50.
“The atmosphere is electric for every single British athlete, there’s a roar which is just unreal.”
Nineteen-year-old Josh Kerr (Joe Franklin) was up against the likes of three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop and world number one Elijah Manangoi, and he crossed the line behind a group of fast-finishers, clocking 3:47.30 in eleventh place – but the experience will surely stand him in good stead for the future – even if he did want more on the night.
“I thought I would come up but it’s just not that easy, I just thought it would be a lot more simple than it was,” said Kerr.
“Qualifying was huge but qualifying isn’t good enough – it’s not what I want to do, I don’t want to just come here for the experience I want to come here and just go for it and smash it.
“Normally I can come strong on the home straight but against these guys running 3:45 it’s not going to be that easy coming down the home straight that far back.”
All three Brits will return to the London Stadium for the semi-finals of the women’s 800m tomorrow after confident performances by Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg), Lynsey Sharp (Terrence Mahon) and Adelle Tracey (Craig Winrow).
Oskan-Clarke raced in to the third automatic qualifying place in the opening heat. British champion for the last two years, the 27-year-old kept her cool as she found a space down the inside to book her place in the semi-finals.
Lynsey Sharp also goes through automatically after finishing strongly to take second place in her heat.
Well positioned up front at the bell, the pace went up a gear with 250m to go as Sharp momentarily slipped back, but the 27-year-old didn’t panic and also found the perfect gap to sprint through, crossing the line in 2:01.04.
Tracey was edged out of third place in the final heat despite finishing strongly, but her fast finish proved crucial, claiming the first of the fastest loser’s spots with a new personal best of 2:00.28.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin) and Morgan Lake (Fuzz Caan) both sailed through qualification in the women’s high jump.
Johnson-Thompson, who had registered a height of 1.80m in the heptathlon last weekend, sailed over 1.80m and 1.85m with her first attempts; she then cleared 1.89m on her second attempt and ended the session sitting top of her group with 1.92m.
“When you fall off a bike you have to just get up and get back on it straight away and that’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to leave the stadium on those terms with the high jump, so I’m glad I came and proved to myself that it was a freak accident (in the heptathlon) and I can jump,” said the British record holder, who has a best of 1.98m.
“This was always going to be a bonus for me, the heptathlon is my event, it’s what I train for, so this is a nice bonus.”
Lake finished fourth in her group, clearing 1.92m on her second attempt, having successfully jumped the three previous heights first time around.
“I am really, really happy. The aim was to make the final today so it is great to do it. I felt that my 1.92m attempt was a really good jump so I now have time to recover,” said Lake, who set a new personal best of 1.96m last month.
“I knew it was going to be an amazing crowd and an amazing atmosphere but I didn’t realise just how great it would be. It was amazing. I am feeling good. I have taken this year out just to focus on high jump so I’m focused on the final.”