31st July 2021
MIXED RELAY AND NEITA COMPETE IN OLYMPIC FINALS ON DAY TWO
Britain have three women in the Olympic 800m final for the first time after outstanding semi-final runs from Jemma Reekie, Alex Bell and Keely Hodgkinson in Tokyo, while the mixed 4x400m relay team crossed the line in sixth place and Daryll Neita finished eighth in the women’s 100m.
Short sprints took centre stage on the second night of action at the Olympic Stadium and Daryll Neita backed up Friday’s personal best by reaching the 100m final.
Neita (coach: Rana Reider, club: Cambridge) delivered a semi-final run of 11.00 (+0.3) in the next lane to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) to achieve her aim of getting a lane in the final.
She became the first Brit to reach the final since Jeanette Kwakye at Beijing 2008 and in it, finished eighth with 11.12 (-0.6) in a race where Elaine Thompson-Herah broke the Olympic record.
“That wasn’t good,” said Neita, setting high standards for her final run. “I’m so disappointed. I’m not happy with that.”
World silver medallist Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath and Bromley) missed out on the final by 0.05 after 11.05 (0.0) in the first semi-final.
Asher-Smith later announced she would be withdrawing from the 200m due to a hamstring injury but plans to run in the 4x100m relay.
“I’m doing the relay, we’ve still got a relay to do,” said the 25-year-old. “11.05 will be incredible useful on a relay leg, especially with Darryl (Neita) in the form she is.”
Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham and Essex Beagles) will be another British sprinter ready for next week’s 4x100m relay after exiting at the semi-final stage with a time of 11.30 (-0.2) for eighth.
In the first-ever mixed 4x400m relay Olympic final, Britain finished sixth in a time of 3:12.07.
With Nicklas Baker (Piotr Spas, Crawley) and Nicole Yeargin (Quincy Watts, Pitreavie) joining anchor runner Cameron Chalmers (Matt Elias, Guernsey) and Emily Diamond (Benke Blomkvist, Bristol and West) from the line-up that ran the heat, they got close to the national record of 3:11.95 the team ran on Friday.
Poland took the maiden mixed relay gold in a time of 3:09.87.
Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson, Pudsey and Bramley), the final athlete added to Team GB after Laura Muir’s decision to focus on the 1500m, stayed with front-running Athing Mu (USA) and Habitam Alemu (ETH) in her semi-final, clocking 1:58.83.
It was the third fastest time of all three heats and saw her advance as comfortably the fastest non-automatic qualifier.
“I wanted to make it fast. I said coming into this race I was going to enjoy every single step I was going to take and I did,” said Bell.
“I just wanted to make it my own, even if it was going to be the last race I did, I just wanted it to be a good one.
“A week prior to flying out I can’t tell you the lows I was facing and feeling, my world flipped round with one phone call and I was happy to grab the opportunity with both hands and just enjoy it.”
Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter, Leigh) put on an impressive display of her closing speed in a 59.1 last lap, outstripping the field in the final 40 metres to advance with 1:59.21.
“I’m happy – I’m really happy, happy for the girls as well. Three out of three, definitely history being made here right now,” said the 19-year-old.
“I moved on the back straight but I knew in the last 60m it would happen, so I trusted in my kick.”
And there was a statement of intent from Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan) too as she and Jamaican Natoya Goule scorched through, the Scot cutting the tape in 1:59.77.
“I’m feeling really confident but the confidence has come from the training I’ve just done the past few weeks at our holding camp,” she said.
“I know I’m in amazing shape but it’s an Olympic final and I’ve got to race it smart even though I’m in good shape.”
In the men’s 100m all three British athletes cleared the first hurdle and advanced from their heats.
Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet) pushed past world leader Trayvon Bromell (USA) in the closing stages to progress with 10.04 (+0.3), a season’s best.
CJ Ujah (Ryan Freckleton, Enfield and Haringey) finished third in his heat with 10.08 (+0.8) and Reece Prescod (Marvin Rowe, Enfield and Haringey) produced 10.12 (+0.6) when it mattered, a season’s best seeing him through.