BRITISH WOMEN WIN FIRST SPRINT RELAY MEDAL FOR 32 YEARS
On the eighth day of athletics action at the Rio Olympic Games, Great Britain and Northern Ireland won a terrific bronze medal in the women’s 4x100m relay, breaking the British record in the process.
Led off by Asha Philip (Steve Fudge), who is the oldest in the team at just 25 years of age, the quartet were in the mix from the off. Desiree Henry (Rana Reider) chased double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson hard down the back straight, before Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) ran a great bend to hand over to Daryll Neita (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) in third place.
At just 19 years of age, Neita stayed calm and ran a great final leg to secure bronze in 41.77, a new British record. USA took gold from lane one, with Jamaica securing silver.
This was in fact Britain’s first medal in the event for 32 years, following on from London 2012 where the women had no relay representation, where Henry lit the Olympic cauldron and Asher-Smith was a mere kit carrier.
Post-race Asha Philip said:
“It has been amazing it has been a long journey for us and we have come a long way as a team with the help of the National Lottery, our coaches, our friends and family. They have put so much support into us and they made us believe that we could do it. Those girls are extremely fast but we can only get faster. Congrats to these girls because they are amazing.”
Dina Asher-Smith added:
“We have worked so unbelievably hard – we have had relay practice since January! This means an awful lot because not only have we worked hard to get faster as individuals, we have worked hard as a team. To be able to come out here and deliver the goods when the pressure is on is absolutely incredible. I’m so unbelievably proud of all of these girls.”
Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) came so close to an outdoor personal best with an agonisingly close final attempt at 4.80m as she finished fifth in the pole vault final.
A first time clearance at a season’s best height of 4.70m put the British record holder in the bronze medal position, but three failures at 4.80m meant she had to settle for fifth.
“Fifth in the Olympic Games – I’m really happy with that. It’s a step up from the last Olympic Games but I’m an ultimate competitor so I’m always going to be disappointed whatever happens.
“I jumped the best of my season today and was so close to ‘80’ [4.80m], just a little bit too inconsistent to mix it with the top girls in the world. But to come fifth is amazing and I’m so happy with that.”
The men’s 4x100m went to the script as Jamaica took gold and Usain Bolt completed a remarkable triple-triple, with Britain running a brilliant race to finish fifth from lane one.
Having been drawn in lane one in consecutive races, the team had to make the best of a bad situation and they did just that coming out with an impressive 37.98 time.
Richard Kilty (Benke Blomkvist) ran another strong lead off leg, before a safe change to Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Blomkvist) set the team up well. He flew down the back straight before another good change to James Ellington (Linford Christie), who subsequently tore round the bend to put the team right in contention.
Unfortunately the final change to Adam Gemili (Fudge) wasn’t quite as slick as the previous two, but he returned from fourth in the 200m to bring the team home fifth, an impressive team effort.
Richard Kilty commented:
“We ran our hearts out and we said going into this we were going to put every inch of effort in. We’ve all got trust in each other and we ran our hearts out there today and we came up short, but we’re proud of each other. There’s not much more we can say.”
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey added:
“We gave it our all but it’s disappointing, obviously, as we put a lot of work into this and this means a lot to us. We’ve come together as a team, we know each other well and we’re practically family and you’ve just seen a lot of people put their hearts on the line there. We love this sport and love one another, so we went into this as a team and what we all wanted was the same thing.”
Team captain Adam Gemili surmised:
“We just feel really disappointed, for the guys on the side-lines and everyone at home, that we couldn’t come out and deliver a medal, which we know we’re more than capable of. We got it round, but it wasn’t fast enough today and the better teams beat us.”
The women’s 4x400m relay team made relatively light work of qualifying for tomorrow’s final as they finished second in their heat and fourth fastest overall.
Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) ran a strong opening leg to put the team in second, before Anyika Onuora (Reider) ran a 50.4 leg to close in on the Jamaican’s who took victory. Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball) kept the team in contention before Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) brought the team home in 3.24.81.
Of the team’s performance Emily Diamond said:
“We wanted to come out here, run strongly and qualify for the final – I think it’s easy to get carried away and think about what we can do in the final, but today it was all about making it. Now we can go rest up, come back tomorrow and hopefully perform even better and potentially come away with something.”
Anyika Onuora added:
“I’ve been excited to be here and finally get my opportunity to run – I’ve been watching the team perform massively – everyone has been doing so well and supporting each other. It’s just nice to get out and run in the Olympic Stadium. Job done tonight and the big one tomorrow.”
In the men’s 4x400m Nigel Levine (Christie), Delano Williams (Neil Harrison), Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) and Martyn Rooney (Reider) had initially appeared to win the heat before receiving word they had been disqualified for an infringement during the second changeover.
In spite of an appeal by the British Team management the decision was sadly upheld meaning the men will not contest a place in tomorrow’s final.
Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) was just outside her personal best as she finished 13th in the women’s 5,000m final. Having run a great race to qualify for the final, the Scot who is new to 5,000m this year acquitted herself extremely well running with a large group of mainly European and Australian runners. In the end she couldn’t stay with the sub 15 minute pace, finishing in 15.12.09, but it was a valuable learning experience in her first Olympics at 5000m..
“I’m actually disappointed – although it’s good that I am disappointed because I was 13th or something in an Olympic final and at the start of the year if someone had said that, I would have taken that.
“I am disappointed I didn’t break into the field. I knew that the top six were almost unbeatable because their times were fast here and I knew that they were going to be gone, but I thought I could make the top eight. To go and run 15:12, I don’t think I’ve done myself justice.”
Earlier today in the 50km race walk, Dom King was disqualified just over half way (at 1:57.19) for bent knees infringement.