19th August 2023
RELAY SILVER MEDAL GETS GB & NI OFF THE MARK AT WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Great Britain opened their World Championships medal account in dramatic fashion, taking silver in the mixed 4x400m relay and breaking the British record for the second time today.
Heading into the home straight in third spot, Yemi Mary John (coach: Alan James, club: Woodford Green Essex Ladies) capitalised on a fall from Femke Bol (NED) in the last 10m to pinch silver in 3:11.06, taking 0.13s off the previous British record, set earlier today.
Lewis Davey (Trevor Painter; Newham and Essex Beagles), replacing the injured Joe Brier, set the team up perfectly with a measured first leg, handing over to Laviai Nielsen (Philip Unfried, Enfield and Haringey) who moved the British team into third at the halfway point.
Rio Mitcham (Leon Baptiste, Birchfield) finished brilliantly to cement the quartet’s place in third spot on leg three and Yemi Mary John stole in for Britain’s first global medal in the event.
After the race, Nielsen said: “Our team coach Martyn Rooney has been incredible and he said to me, I’m one of the more experienced members of this team so I had a responsibility to pep talk these guys.
“I know what it’s like to win a medal and how it can change your life. I told these guys that we are capable and we are strong enough so let’s go get it and we did.
“A huge mention to Joe. He hurt himself in the first 100m of that heat earlier and carried on for 300m. He is a team player and he deserves this medal as much as we do.”
On the thought of receiving his medal, Mitcham added: “It means everything. Laviai gave us a really good pep talk in the call room on how a medal can change your life and that’s why I can’t stop smiling.
“We get a medal and we can take it back to the UK. Honestly, I’ll be feeling every single emotion. You feel the happiness, the highs and lows, everything. That’s what we’re in the sport for, that rush, that feeling when you get onto the track is everything.”
In the first final of the evening with British interest, Jessica Warner-Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn) produced the best 10,000m finish from a Briton on the world stage since 2007, finishing eighth as the top European.
In a pedestrian start, the Blackburn athlete was never outside the top three and clung to the lead group as the pace ebbed and flowed as the laps ticked by.
In a hectic final lap, Warner-Judd kept her rhythm and capitalised on a fall by Sifan Hassan (NED) on the home straight to take eighth place in 31:35.38, the best placing since Jo Pavey’s bronze 16 years ago in Osaka.
Warner-Judd reflected: “When I crossed the line, I was so emotional, I just couldn’t believe it. I thought last year (2022 Worlds) was good but this year I was a completely different runner.
“When I crossed the line, I was upset I didn’t win a medal! But I am just absolutely shocked to be honest. I couldn’t have ever imagined it going that well.
“There was a small group and I just decided to commit to it. It was a bit physical, but I felt really confident, so I stuck with them and it paid off.”
After a solid morning in the heptathlon, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Aston Moore, Liverpool) rounded out day one in second position on 3905 points thanks to strong shot put and 200m showings this evening.
Entering the third event in fourth position, Johnson-Thompson pushed the shot out to 13.64m, her third best ever mark, with her first throw of the contest to add 770 points to her tally.
In the 200m, Johnson-Thompson ran a brilliant bend to give her a metre lead heading into the home straight and maintained her stride to the line, cutting the tape in 23.48s (0.0) for victory and leaving her just 93 points behind leader event leader Anna Hall (USA).
Assessing her first day, the Liverpudlian said: “It has been an up and down day for sure given the start we had with the weather, but I am very happy to end it on a win.
“I just really wanted to attack that 200m, maybe I attacked it a bit too much around the bend as I was swimming a bit by the end, but it is nice to get a win and end on a high.
“It’s all very close. I don’t think it will be a high scoring heptathlon but it is very competitive and exciting, so who knows.”
The men’s 1500m trio of Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh), Neil Gourley (Stephen Haas, Giffnock North), Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) replicated the success of the women from the morning session as all booked their place in the semi-finals.
Kerr steadily worked his way up the field as the laps went by, hitting the bell on the shoulder of world leader, Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) and cruising to the line in second spot, clocking 3:34.00.
In a much cagier second heat, Gourley produced a last-gasp surge to book his place in the semi-final. With one lap to go, the Scot was chasing hard for a top six place but couldn’t find a way through. With 70m to go, a gap appeared and he rushed in to steal third spot, clocking 3:46.87.
Giles made sure it all three Brits moved into the semis with a measured run in the final heat. Despite being boxed in at the bell and having to react to trouble ahead, the Birchfield man made his move on the home straight, stepping out into lane three and finishing fifth, crossing the line in 3:34.63.
Kerr, who qualified second-fastest, assessed: “I don’t know what the time was, but it felt smooth, and we had some gears left in that last 100m. So, it was fast enough that we didn’t have any trouble in that last 100m. I made the moves when I needed to, and I kept myself out of trouble, so I am really pleased with it.”
It was safe progress for the men’s 100m trio with British record holder Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet), Eugene Amo-Dadzie (Steve Fudge, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) and Reece Prescod (Marco Airale, Enfield & Haringey) making it to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
World leader Hughes eased into his running and came alive in the final 30m, easing through the field and cruising over the line in 10.00s (0.0) to win his heat.
Amo-Dadzie, taking part in his first world championship, showed no sign of nerves as he powered to second place in his heat, exploding out of the blocks from lane two to stop the clock in 10.10s (0.0).
A late surge from Prescod ensured full British representation in the semi-finals, coming through in the final 30m to clock 10.14s (-0.4) for third spot.
Amo-Dadzie said afterwards: “The main thing was always to qualify. And then we can go home, recover and do it all again tomorrow. I am very pleased I have executed a good run – hopefully my coach agrees! I had a lot of fun out there and I really enjoyed it. And I am going to keep doing that.
“In terms of goals, aspirations of where I am, let’s see. I am having a dust up with the world’s best right now, so I am having fun.”
In the men’s discus, Lawrence Okoye (Zane Duquemin, Croydon) saved his best until last but fell agonisingly short of a spot in the final, producing a 63.66m effort.
After two earlier fouls, Okoye’s throw placed him sixth in his pool, but he missed out on a spot in his first World Championship final by 13cm, finishing 14th overall.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland Medallists:
Silver (1): Mixed 4x400m Relay (Lewis Davey, Laviai Nielsen, Rio Mitcham & Yemi Mary John)