5th August 2017
PRESCOD POWERS TO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
British athletics has a new sprinting star to follow after Reece Prescod (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) raced home in his first ever World Championship final, finishing seventh in the hotly anticipated men’s 100m.
The 21-year-old first hit the headlines last month when he won the British Championships, and he stepped up to the biggest stage in style, storming home in 10.05 in the semi-finals before heading in to the spotlight of the 100m final.
It was the American Justin Gatlin who dipped over the line in first place, clocking a season’s best 9.92, with his teammate Christian Coleman in second and defending champion Usain Bolt in third, but Prescod, who clocked 10.17, took it all in his youthful long stride.
“The crowd really supported me, I really enjoyed the experience of my first world final. Being only 21, to come out here – I ran a pb in the first round, ran fast in the second round to get through to the final – I can’t really ask for more,” he said.
He may be the future of the sport but Prescod, who comes from East London, is feeling no pressure.
“I’m just taking it step by step – I train hard, work hard and do all the right things. I just hope in the years to come I’ll just get better and better. I just want to be the best I can be. This is the start of my career really,” he added.
Earlier, James Dasaolu (Lloyd Cowan) missed out on a place in the final after finishing fifth in the first semi-final out on the track, clocking 10.22. CJ Ujah (Stuart McMillan) also missed the cut, finishing fourth in 10.12 in the fastest semi-final of the day, which featured Coleman as well as Bolt.
A disappointed Dasaolu said: “Looking back I haven’t really acquitted myself too well this year. I’ve only looked back at the race once, but from what I’ve seen I got a good start, I was kind of with the field and I wanted to run, but it just wasn’t there today. I’m really disappointed and I know I’ve got more to give for the next few years in the sport.”
For Ujah, who was the fastest of those not to make it to the final, the defeat brought back memories of Rio 2016 when he missed out on a place in the final by just 0.002 seconds.
“It was hard not to make another final by so little a margin, especially in front of your home crowd, I would have loved to make it to the final but these things happen and I just didn’t have the zip today,” Ujah explained.
“There was nothing to fear, I don’t know what went wrong, I can’t say it’s my start because I haven’t always had the best of starts and I’ve managed to come through. I’ve just got to move on from here and put my all in to the relay.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin) ended day one of the heptathlon in fourth place, with three events to come on Sunday.
After a disappointing conclusion to the morning session, where she failed to clear 1.86m in the high jump – the 24-year-old has cleared 1.95m this year – Johnson-Thompson kicked off the evening with the shot put.
Opening with a throw of 12.01m, she went on to register a best of 12.47m, collecting 692 points in the process.
Then came the 200m – and Johnson-Thompson was unstoppable. Sprinting clear down the home straight she crossed the line in first place, adding a further 1,093 points to her overnight total, which stands at 3,838 points. The long jump, javelin and 800m are still to come.
The women’s 10,000m was the first final out on the track on Saturday evening, and the race was dominated by Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, who clocked a new world lead 30:16.32 to take gold.
British hopes rested with Beth Potter (Mick Woods), Jess Martin (Josep Carballude) and Charlotte Taylor (Helen Lehman-Winters). Potter was the first of the trio home, crossing the line in in 21st place in 32:15.88, while Taylor was 27th in 32:51.33.
Martin withdrew from the race with 3,000m to go, and immediately announced her retirement from athletics.
She explained: “I made a decision a little while ago to decide to retire at the moment. I say at the moment, because a year ago I wouldn’t have said I would retire, but now it’s a decision that I feel is right for me and I feel there is a lot more in my life that I want to do apart from running.
“It’s a tough sport to do and if you’re not feeling that you are giving it 100 per cent then I don’t feel you can come out on the stage and do your best.
“My husband is a professional cyclist and I feel that now I’m going to be the best wife and the best supporter I can be to him and I’m very excited for so many things we have in our future together.”
Potter meanwhile was happy with her performance:
“I was still picking people off towards the end. I’ve had a rocky couple of weeks, a couple of injury problems, but I’m pretty happy with that, it was pretty solid,” she said.
Laura Muir (Andy Young) and Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) both made it through to the final of the women’s 1500m, which takes place on Monday evening.
Muir finished second in a stacked first semi-final, joining Kenyan Faith Chepngetich at the front of the field with one lap to go. The pair pulled clear down the home straight before easing comfortably over the line, the Scot clocking 4:03.64.
“I’m through to the final so I’m really happy. It was a really tough semi-final so I’m just glad to have got through it,” said Muir.
“That was really strong, that could have easily been a final so I was really happy. I was boxed in a bit, but I didn’t panic.
“I kept glancing up at the screen to check the gap (behind) because I didn’t want to waste too much energy, but at the same time I know the likes of Semenya and Dibaba were behind me as well and the Polish athlete Angelika Cichocka, all very strong sprinters. I just thought ‘I want to keep out of harm’s way and have a little bit up my sleeve if they come running past.’”
Jess Judd (Mick Judd), who had led the race at the gun, came through in 10th place, clocking 4:10.14.
“That was so hard but I gave it everything and I wouldn’t have run it any other way. I wanted to put myself out there and I think I did a good job,” said the former World Junior silver medallist.
Weightman secured her spot in the final after finishing strongly in the second semi-final.
With 200m remaining it was Dutch world number one Sifan Hassan who kicked home in the lead, but Weightman kept in touch and worked hard down the home straight, powering through from seventh up to fourth place to take one of the five automatic qualifying places in 4:05.63.
“I knew that race was going to be incredibly tough and that to make the final I would have to run the race of my life, and I think I might have just done that there,” said Weightman.
“I’m so delighted with my performance. I don’t think words can summarise what it is like to compete out there in that stadium. I think I had a smile on my face the entire race.
“I think I have got a lot left for the final. We have got a rest day and with that crowd behind me I will be ready.”
Sarah McDonald (David Harmer) finished in ninth place in 4:06.73 – better than even her own expectations.
“Going into that semi-final I was actually ranked 24th out of 24 so my aim was just not to come 24th!
“I went into that race with nothing to lose so my coach just said go out there and take a risk. I just went for it and I went past a few people in the last lap to show my extra strength so I am really happy,” she said.
“This has probably been the best experience of my entire life. Running out and getting the biggest cheer from this fantastic crowd was amazing and I won’t ever forget it.”