6th October 2019
RELAY DRAMA CLOSES FINAL MEMORABLE NIGHT AT IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The IAAF World Championships drew to a close with a highly entertaining evening of athletics as the Great Britain & Northern Ireland women’s 4x400m relay quartet just missed out on bronze, while Jake Wightman (club: Edinburgh; coach: Geoff Wightman) and Josh Kerr (Edinburgh; Danny Mackey) were fifth and sixth in personal bests in the men’s 1500m.
The women’s four of Zoey Clark (Thames Valley; Eddie McKenna), Jodie Williams (Herts Phoenix; Stuart McMillan), Emily Diamond (Bristol & West; Benke Blomkvist) and Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey; Christine Bowmaker) initially finished fourth with a season’s best 3:23.02, but a disqualification to the Jamaican team later saw GB & NI upgraded to bronze. Yet minutes after the appeal was further overturned results once again in 4th place for the British squad.
Clark started well, handing over to Williams who produced a 49.6 leg, battling with the Polish team – who would eventually finish in silver medal position – and passing the baton to Emily Diamond in bronze medal position.
On the third leg, Stephenie-Ann McPherson showed her class to move the Jamaicans ahead of GB & NI and Poland, but Diamond ran solidly in the closing stages to give Nielsen the best possible chance on the final leg. But she could not overhaul the Polish and Jamaican teams on the final lap, bringing the team home in fourth.
Williams, who ran a 49.6 split, said: “My legs are burning. I am so proud on these girls – we all had a job to do and every single one of them showed up. I’m super happy to be part of this great team.”
Clark, who ran the first leg, commented post-race: “Yes it has been a busy week, but I love doing the relays. We really upped our game today and the time we ran showed that.”
In a classic men’s 1500m final, Wightman and Kerr shook up the UK all-time lists as they set scorching times for fifth and sixth respectively, while Neil Gourley (Giffnock North; Mark Rowland) was 11th.
With reigning champion Timothy Cheruiyot pushing on the pace early on, clocking a 55 second first lap, the rest of the field were being pulled along at a ferocious speed. The British duo were sensible and positioned themselves well going into the final lap; Kerr surging forward first as he headed into third position down the back straight, positioning behind eventual silver medallist Taoufik Makloufi (ALG), but he was overhauled by Marcin Lewandowski (POL), Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) and Wightman around the top bend.
With 100m left, the Britons were well in contention, but as Cheruiyot sealed gold, the Algerian and Polish athletes were immovable as they held onto the podium places, with Wightman taking fifth, setting a Scottish record of 3:31.87, swiftly followed by Kerr with sixth in 3:32.52. Gourley, in his first world final, crossed the line 11th in 3:37.30.
Wightman, who moved to the seventh on UK all-time list behind John Mayock, spoke afterwards:
“It’s something like I feel I should be celebrating and not disappointed, but I think it was a lot closer than I thought it was going to be for the medals. It would have taken literally a tiny little bit more than I had, but that is the best I could give today and I’m proud of finishing fifth still in that kind of field.
“If you run a PB you can’t complain because I’ve delivered my best performance at the most important time, so I’ll happily take that and work into the winter into next season.”
He added: “I’m well proud of the other guys though – to get three Scots into a world final – it’s an achievement for all of us.”
Kerr, who now stands tenth on the UK all-time list, said: “I just ran out of steam. I feel like I ran a very even and sensible race, something that I was planning on doing. I got beaten by some very good runners today. I am not disappointed, it is a little bit bittersweet. I feel like a medal was definitely up for grabs today and I kind of let that opportunity go.
“I feel like I gave it my all out there and ran 3:36, 3:36, 3:32. If you asked me if I wanted to do that at the start of the championships and do you think that will medal, I would say hell yeah. I am not disappointed with the way I performed. I prepared very well for this competition and sixth was just what it was on the day.”
In her first world final, Abigail Irozuru (Sale Harriers Manchester; self-coached) finished the competition in seventh position, her first-round effort of 6.64 metres proving to be her best. After injury-disrupted seasons in recent years, it was an admirable display by the British champion who also leapt 6.60m and 6.59m twice during her series.
Shara Proctor (Birchfield Harriers; Rana Reider) furthest leap of the final came in round three but the 6.43m could only place her in 11th which brought her championships to a close after three attempts.
Earlier in the evening, Cindy Ofili (Woodford Green & Essex Ladies; Jeff Porter) bowed out of the women’s 100m hurdles at the semi-final stage, finishing sixth. The Briton admitted she lost her balance between the sixth and seventh hurdle which disrupted her rhythm and saw her cross the line in 12.95 (0.8), her third sub-13 second clocking on the season.
In the men’s relay, unfortunately an unsuccessful baton change between Toby Harries (Brighton) and Rabah Yousif (Newham & Essex Beagles; Carol Williams) meant the British men’s 4x400m relay team did not finish.
Cameron Chalmers (Guernsey; James Hillier) led off the team well and Harries had kept Britain in a battle for sixth but the contest ended at the start of the third leg.
Yousif, the most experienced team member, said:
“I would like to speak on behalf of the whole team who are part of this squad. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us to this moment. It is frustrating today but we promise to get back to the business very soon.”
British medallists at the IAAF World Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Heptathlon
Dina Asher-Smith – 100m
Women – 4x100m Relay
Men – 4x100m Relay
4th – Women’s 4x400m relay
4th – Callum Hawkins – Marathon
4th – Adam Gemili – 200m
4th – Holly Bradshaw – Pole Vault
4th – Mixed 4x400m relay team
5th – Laura Muir – 1500m
5th – Jake Wightman – 1500m
6th – Zharnel Hughes – 100m
6th – Josh Kerr – 1500m
7th – Tom Bosworth – 20km Race Walk
7th – Abigail Orozuru – Long Jump
7th – Laura Weightman – 5000m