6th August 2021
THREE MEDALS FOR THE BRITISH TEAM ON SUCCESSFUL NIGHT AT THE OLYMPIC STADIUM
Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young, club: Dundee Hawkhill) got her hands on the global medal she has always craved, taking Olympic 1500m silver as Britain won three medals on a pulsating penultimate night of athletics in Tokyo.
The men’s 4x100m relay team added silver and the women bronze to Muir’s first Olympic medal.
The 28-year-old, Muir, smashed her own British record with a stunning 3:54.50, kicking past world champion Sifan Hassan (NED) in a superbly executed tactical race.
Muir has finished fifth, seventh, fourth and fifth in successive world outdoor finals since 2015 but it was finally her night in Tokyo.
“I honestly can’t think of the words,” said Muir (coach: Andy Young, club: Dundee Hawkhill).
“I’ve been just missing out in global finals since 2015, and my first global medal is an Olympic one, silver against a field of that calibre and with a British record to top it off too, I couldn’t be happier.
“I knew I was going to cry whether or not I got a medal, so it was always going to end in tears! But I’m just so happy it’s happened here.”
Muir is the first Scottish athlete to win an individual Olympic medal on the track since Liz McColgan’s silver in the 10,000m at Seoul 1988.
Hassan settled the field into a sub four-minute pace with a 62.9 first lap, with Muir and reigning Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon (KEN) tracking her closely.
Muir produced a trademark burst around the backstraight bend to drop Hassan and finished 1.39s behind Kipyegon to lower her own five-year British record by more than a second.
“I was pretty sore so I think it was pretty close to what I can do,” she said.
“I didn’t know if I was ever going to PB again, so to do both in one go is just amazing.”
Britain’s 4x100m men continued their record of winning a medal at every major championship in this Olympic cycle with a dramatic silver medal.
CJ Ujah (Ryan Freckleton, Enfield and Haringey), Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet), Richard Kilty (Gateshead) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Lance Brauman, Newham and Essex Beagles) won Team GB’s first Olympic 4x100m medal since gold at Athens 2004.
The quartet led for the majority of the race but were pipped on the line by Italy by a margin of 0.01s, with Mitchell-Blake on the anchor leg. They clocked 37.51, a season’s best.
Ujah said: “It’s amazing – every time we step out and put on these colours for our country it’s an honour and we can’t be more blessed. It’s amazing to go out into the finals and get a medal.”
Kilty added: “We smashed it – it was the third fastest time we’ve ever run as a quartet, the guys were solid, we pulled it out the bag from yesterday.
“We’re Olympic silver medallists and we’re over the moon.”
The women maintained their place on the 4x100m Olympic podium from Rio 2016 with bronze, having broken their national record in the heats.
Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham and Essex Beagles), Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Steve Fudge, Sutton and District), Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath and Bromley) and Daryll Neita (Rana Reider, Cambridge) ran a combined 41.88 to beat Switzerland to bronze by 0.2 seconds.
They were 0.43 behind USA in silver and 0.86 behind Jamaica in gold.
Asher-Smith said: “I was on crutches six weeks ago and there was a 10% chance I’d be here.
“I’ve worked incredibly hard and to come away with a medal here is honestly something that I could not have even contemplated six weeks ago.
“We’ve got the medal and that’s the most important thing. This is part of the legacy that we started in 2016 and will continue to go, so we’re really, really proud right now.”
Having only run four times over 400m in her career before this year, Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton, Herts Phoenix) ran an equal personal best of 49.97 in the Olympic final to finish sixth.
The 27-year-old showed all of her top-end 200m speed to lead from Allyson Felix (USA) in the first half of the race and equalled the lifetime best she ran in the semi-finals.
“Right now I’m upset, but I think in hindsight I’ll be very proud of myself,” said Williams.
“I stepped up this year and medalled indoors, and now I’m an Olympic finalist.
“I’ve pulled a performance out of the bag when it matters most every time, right now I’m just gutted that it wasn’t enough to get that medal, but I really can’t be upset.”
Andrew Butchart (Barry Fudge, Central) produced his very best in the Olympic final once again, running 13:09.97 for 11th place, the third fastest time of his career.
The Scot stayed with the big hitters through a punishing pace of 2:38 for the first kilometre and 5:14.1 for the second.
Butchart fell off the front pack with two laps to go but managed a season’s best, continuing his excellent Games record having finished sixth at Rio 2016.
“I wanted to do better than that – I want to always compete, tonight I didn’t really compete I was just in the race,” said the 29-year-old.
“So I am disappointed with that, but to say I’m a double finalist in the 5,000m for Britain is pretty rare so I have to take the positives from it.”
A youthful British quartet, with an average age of 24, built the foundations for the future by finishing sixth in the heats of the men’s 4x400m relay.
Cameron Chalmers (Matt Elias, Guernsey), Joe Brier (Matt Elias, Swansea), Lee Thompson (John Henson, Sheffield and Deane) and Michael Ohioze (Dan Tomlin, Shaftesbury Barnet), were the chosen four and produced a season’s best of 3:03.29.
Chalmers said: “I think this is a developmental squad and it’s an invaluable opportunity for us all to get to run here and show us what we’re going to be up against in the coming years.”
The British medal tally in Athletics:
Keely Hodgkinson – Women’s 800m
Laura Muir – Women’s 1500m
Men’s 4x100m Relay (CJ Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake)
Holly Bradshaw – Women’s Pole Vault
Women’s 4x100m Relay (Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita)