The British Athletics team enjoyed a successful evening session on day four of the IAAF World Championships with both the men’s and women’s 200m creating cause for excitement among GB & NI spectators.
The evening session at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar saw seven of the competing British team members make progress, and most impressive was the semi-final performance of Adam Gemili (club: Blackheath & Bromley; coach: Rana Reider).
Gemili, running from lane five, started strong but pushed even harder off the bend to put daylight in between himself and defending world champion Ramil Guliyev, crossing the line in first with a swift 20.03.
“I feel good. I feel confident. I just wanted to go out there and put in a bit more effort than yesterday,” he said. “I am still not firing 100 per cent but I am getting there. I wanted to win that semi and get a good lane for the final. I’ve been saying it for years, once you get in the final anything can happen.”
Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury Barnet; Glen Mills) couldn’t match his teammates success although he attacked his semi-final hard, his third place in 20.30 just missing out on a place in the final.
Unfortunately Miguel Francis (Wolverhampton & Bilston; Mills) had to withdraw from his semi-final due to a quad strain sustained in the heats.
In the women’s 200m, Dina Asher-Smith (Blackheath & Bromley; John Blackie) took to the track to launch her World Championship campaign having had less than 24 hours to recover from her silver medal exploits in the 100m.
Yet she performed as if starting on fresh lags, dominating her heat to win in 22.32. Earlier, Jodie Williams (Herts Phoenix; Stuart McMillan) had started the GB women’s 200m interest successfully finishing second in her heat in 22.80, while in the last qualifying heat World Championship debutante Beth Dobbin (Edinburgh; Leon Baptiste) followed her teammates through, also grabbing an automatic qualifying position when she finished third in 23.14.
Dobbin said: “I was hoping for a quicker time but I can’t complain because I made it through to the semis. I was hoping to be more in the shape that I was at Anniversary Games. My training has been reflecting that I am in that shape.”
The women’s 400m heats also took place and it was the third time on the track this week for Emily Diamond (Bristol & West; Benke Blomkvist) following her effort in the mixed relays. Finishing fifth in her heat she still managed a season’s best of 51.66 qualifying for the semi-final stage, and reflected on her efforts of the last two days.
She said: “Yesterday in the relay I went through 200m in a PB, the rolling 200m was pretty quick and I still managed to finish quite strongly to run a 50.3. So my coach Benke said just go for it in the first half, you’re probably in the best shape of your life so have confidence.
“I tried to hold on down the home straight but that last 50m really showed my three races in three days and not a lot of sleep. But I gave it my all. At the end of the day I wanted a medal – I had the potential with a slight sacrifice of my own 400m, but I wanted to try and get a medal and help the guys out in the mixed, in the end we were only a few tenths off it.”
In the third heat however Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey; Christine Bowmaker), running on the inside lane, ran a strong race to make sure of automatic qualification with third spot in 51.52. Nielsen, whose last race was Zurich in August, welcomed the chance to finally hit the track at this World Championships.
She said: “It was nice to get a run out because it’s been quite a long season and my last race was about six weeks ago! So it came as a bit of a shock ‘you mean I have to react?’!”
Finally, Andrew Pozzi (Stratford-upon-Avon; Santiago Antunez) started his 110m hurdles effort with automatic qualification in the third of five heats. Racing somewhat blindly in lane nine, his 13.53 for third in a heat won by Pascal Martinot-Lagarde was enough to dust away the cobwebs for Pozzi, who was later promoted to second spot following a later disqualification.
“It was OK,” he conceded. “I qualified so in a sense the job is done. It was a bit of a scrappy one really, to kind of get my rhythm back. I would like to have won but I qualified, it’s all about going through the rounds at this stage.
“Lane nine is strange, you’re away from the majority of the action and you’ve got no idea what’s going on. It takes a lot of discipline to stay focused on your lane and not wondering what’s happening.”
British medallists at the IAAF World Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – 100m
4th Holly Bradshaw – Pole Vault
4th Mixed 4x400m Relay
6th Zharnel Hughes – 100m