4th October 2019
SPRINT RELAY TEAMS AND 1500M MEN SET FOR WORLD FINAL FLOURISH
The Friday night session at the IAAF World Championships offered further excitement for the British Athletics team with a near perfect night of qualifying action.
With all three men’s 1500m representatives making progress and both sprint relay teams reaching their finals this weekend, it was a satisfying night for GB & NI at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha.
In the first of the three men’s 1500m semis Neil Gourley (Giffnock North; Mark Rowland) made sure of qualification with a patient run that saw the Giffnock man bide his time on the rail before finding a gap in the final 70m. in a blanket finish he dipped for third, guaranteeing his place in Sunday’s final.
“It’s going to be tough but I felt good tonight, I felt better than last night, it’s just a case of recovery now. Recovery is a battle and I feel like I beat some people just by recovering better for today, so I need to do that again come Sunday,” he said.
“A medal is the goal, it’s going to be tough but I’d be selling myself short if I wasn’t trying to do that.”
In the second semi, both Jake Wightman (Edinburgh; Geoff Wightman) and Josh Kerr (Edinburgh; Danny Mackey) lined up hoping to join their teammate and did just that albeit through differing routes.
In a swift final lap that closed the race faster than the first semi, Kerr eased to an automatic qualifier of 4th 3:36.58, whilst Wightman paid the price for moving slightly too early and faded to seventh. Fortunately the overall pace meant he was primed to receive one of the two non-automatic qualifying positions and it was just a matter of minutes after the race when it was confirmed he too would be running in the final.
Wightman reflected: “I was just a bit too fixated in making that final and thought I could get into it a bit easier than it turned out being.
“It doesn’t matter what size ‘q’, big or little, it’s just the point of getting that there and everyone’s on a level playing field now for the final.”
Kerr said: “I feel like I had another gear there if I needed to be, so when I looked around and no one was gaining I had a little smile to myself. It was about making smart decisions, trusting myself and trusting my strength.”
It means the GB & NI team have a quarter of the final spots on offer for Sunday’s middle distance showdown.
Following the 1500m men onto the track were the women’s 4x100m team competing in their first round. The quartet of Asha Philip (Newham & Essex Beagles; Steve Fudge); Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Sutton & District; Steve Fudge); Ashleigh Nelson (City of Stoke; Michael Afilaka) and Daryll Neita (Cambridge Harriers; Jonas Dodoo) made light work of qualifying with strong changeovers to finish second behind the Jamaican team in a season’s best of 42.25.
Nelson spelt out how the team continued to improve:
“Every year we get together and every year we achieve something and it just builds on that trust, builds on the momentum and it is always good to come out and work together,” she said.
“Coming out and working as a team is quite different to us, being individuals, but when we come together we all make sure we put our necks on the line for each other.”
They were followed just minutes later by a superlative display by the British men’s quartet of Adam Gemili (Blackheath & Bromley; Rana Reider); Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet; Glen Mills); Richard Kilty (Middlesbrough (Mandale); Benke Blomkvist) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Newham & Essex Beagles; Lance Brauman). The men started their World Championship title defence with an impressive world leading time of 37.56 to finish ahead of the USA men’s quartet in their heat.
British team captain and third leg runner Kilty summarised their evening’s work:
“It felt amazing. Sometimes in qualification, it can be a bit trickier than running the final and we’re relieved to get through. The second fastest time in European history with so much more to come tomorrow,” he promised.
“Me and Nethaneel have had a long wait, we’ve spent a lot of time with each other and been practicing whilst the other guys have been out doing the individual. We’ve been on the practice track and working on our craft, making sure it’s nice and slick. You’ll have seen that today, and we’ll do a little bit more than that tomorrow!”
Closing the night’s action for GB & NI was Zak Seddon (Bracknell; Jeff Seddon) Britain’s first 3000m steeplechase finalist since 1993.
Seddon, pleased to be featuring in the global final, wasn’t able to keep with the pace, but ran a solid race to finish 15th in 8:40.23 and complete his World Championship journey.
He said: “I’m just not quite at that level where I can push for top ten in the world at the moment. That’s a big achievement in itself, but I wasn’t going to get better.
“If you are doing everything in steps then I’ve moved from European to World final and that’s a good jump for a year, I just now have to wait another year to try and push on from that.”
Finally, tonight’s action moves to the roads, with the men’s 20k race walk featuring Tom Bosworth (Tonbridge; Andi Drake) and Callum Wilkinson (Enfield & Haringey; Andi Drake) for GB & NI.
British medallists at the IAAF World Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Heptathlon
Dina Asher-Smith – 100m
4th – Adam Gemili – 200m
4th – Holly Bradshaw – Pole Vault
4th – Mixed 4x400m relay team
6th – Zharnel Hughes – 100m