27th December 2019
YEAR IN REVIEW: SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER
It was a longer wait than usual but the World Championships, which kicked off on September 27 and finished on October 6, definitely delivered in Doha. For Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith it capped the single best year of their careers with the British team returning from Qatar with five medals and 17 top-eight finishes.
1) Katarina Johnson-Thompson arrived at the World Championships as the reigning world and European indoor champion and as a formidable force having dominated in winning the Gotzis Hypo Meeting in May – and did she deliver in Doha.
It was the best heptathlon ever recorded by a Brit – comfortably – as Johnson-Thompson set personal bests in four of her seven events – the 100m hurdles, shot put, javelin and 800m – to break Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record with a new mark of 6981 and claim the world title.
2) One day before Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s gold, Dina Asher-Smith performed under immense public and media pressure at the World Championships, delivering her very own title as she blitzed the field in the 200m final in a national record herself of 21.88.
Doubling up individually as she did at the 2018 European Championships so successfully, Asher-Smith opened what would be an historic personal campaign with silver over 100m in a national record 10.83. She’d become the first Brit ever to win three medals at a World Championships with silver in the 4x100m relay – but more on that specific performance later.
3) The British men’s 4x100m relay team arrived at the World Championships as defending champions and, despite narrowly missing out on retaining the title to the Americans, they still produced their best when it mattered.
The quartet of Adam Gemili, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake clocked a European record 37.36 on the way to second in the final but that only tells half the story. The fact that Hughes injured himself during his leg but still managed to complete it and hand successfully over to Kilty, should not be overlooked. They’ll be a force at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer.
4) There was drama for the British women’s 4x100m relay team too at the World Championships but they took it in their stride, as they always do, to demonstrate why they are the most consistent outfit on the circuit as they took silver in a season’s best 41.85.
An unfortunate late injury to Imani-Lara Lansiquot saw Asha Philip drafted in at extremely short notice but the quartet, which also included Dina Asher-Smith, Ashleigh Nelson and Daryll Neita, were not phased and ran a fine race to claim silver.
Notably for Nelson it was her first major international medal as part of the British quartet for five years while for Asher-Smith it was historic as she became the first Briton ever to win three medals at a World Championships.
5) Ironically for No.5 on this list, there were five occasions where GB & NI narrowly missed out on a World Championship medal by finishing fourth. Callum Hawkins roared into the medal positions in the men’s marathon but was just edged out in the final metres while Adam Gemili missed out on bronze in the 200m literally by the width of his vest.
The women’s 4x400m relay quartet were harshly treated after a seemingly obvious infringement from the Jamaicans as they also ended up finishing fourth while, in the mixed 4x400m, Martyn Rooney on anchor was a matter of centimetres away from bronze.
Holly Bradshaw – in such good form all season – produced arguably the performance of her career to put herself into medal contention in the pole vault with comfort and ease however she had to settle for fourth with 4.80m.
6) Laura Muir and Jake Wightman both finished fifth in the 1500m at the World Championships – but simply looking at just the final placings wouldn’t be a fair reflection on either.In the fastest women’s 1500m final at a World Championships ever, Muir clocked 3:55.76 to finish fifth – amazed herself that that time only placed her there and 3:51 won – and proved just how tough, and talented, she is having spent much of the summer recovering from injury.
For Wightman, tens of seconds separated him from the podium in the men’s 1500m. Having also suffered an injury in the build up, Wightman clocked a personal best 3:31.87 for fifth as three Brits contested an ultra-competitive final.
7) One place behind Jake Wightman in the men’s 1500m final at the World Championships was Josh Kerr. He had been superbly impressive leading up to that medal showdown in Doha with an indoor Scottish record and safely navigating a hugely competitive and tense trials. Kerr looked great through the rounds in Qatar too and placed sixth in a personal best 3:32.52.
Zharnel Hughes, the European champion from 2018, also placed sixth in the blue ribband men’s 100m final. Four times under ten seconds leading into the Championships, Hughes was a picture of consistency through the rounds in Doha and went quicker each time. His 10.03 unfortunately placed him sixth and just shy of the medals.
8) Three athletes placed seventh at the World Championships with each telling their own story. Tom Bosworth underlined that he is a truly world class race walker, battling back from adversity to place seventh in the 20km event for a sweep of major international top-seven finishes.
Abigail Irozuru, out of retirement, rounded off why she has been the clear British No.1 in 2019 with seventh in the women’s long jump final, where unfortunately a slight injury hampered her attempt to place higher. Laura Weightman herself finished seventh in her first World Championship final over 5000m, which saw her record a personal best of 14:44.57.
9) Dina Asher-Smith could have barely asked for a better final two runs before the World Championships as she lined up in both Diamond League finals. She claimed second place in the 200m at the first final in Zurich, at the time in a season’s best 22.08, before going even better in Brussels as she won the Diamond League 100m title.
Asher-Smith was again in red-hot season’s best form with a 10.88 – 0.03 off her British record – with the Diamond League title allowing GB & NI a fourth place individually in the 100m for the World Championships in Doha, taken by Imani-Lara Lansiquot.
10) A busy month for Steph Twell culminated with an impressive Scottish record at the Frankfurt Marathon as she officially put herself in contention for 26.2 miles at the Olympic Games in 2020.
Twell opted to include the World Championship 10,000m in Doha as part of her preparations, having earned automatic selection by winning the trial in June, finishing 15th and ran superbly in Germany as she clocked 2:26.40, comfortably inside the Olympic standard.