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13 Aug 2017

British sprint relay teams win gold and silver on penultimate night at London 2017

The British men’s 4x100m relay team finally produced the performance they’ve been capable of for so long, winning World Championship gold on home turf in London.

With all eyes on Usain Bolt in his last ever race, the British team of Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake broke both the British and European records with a 37.47 run to hold off USA for gold.

Ujah and Gemili both ran stunning legs before Loughborough based Danny Talbot took up the baton, flying round the bend to ensure the team were in the lead with one leg to run. Mitchell-Blake, fresh from fourth in the 200m, did the rest sending the 60,000 strong crowd into raptures.

The last time a British sprint relay team won such a coveted title was at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but Talbot said that’s what they set out to do.

“We had so much self-belief - we didn't come here to just get on the podium, we came to win and that's what we did. The time was a bonus as that wasn’t a focus of ours. Everything just came in to place tonight and we're so happy. We're just grateful for the opportunity to be in the best shape of our lives to come to the World Championships and become world champions.”

Just minutes earlier the British women’s team had almost done the same, a sublime performance earning them silver, having not even been good enough to qualify for London 2012 five years ago.

Loughborough based Asha Philip ran a phenomenal opening leg, scorching round the bend to set up a medal winning run. Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita completed the job much to the nation’s delight. Philip commented:

“Reacting to that silver medal was like ‘oh my God.’ I had no idea where Daryll was in that final leg, and I was just screaming and the crowd kept getting louder and louder!

“That’s an upgrade from what we got in Rio so I’m really happy with that. It shows how much we progressed from last year and we are definitely getting closer and closer. We’re a young team, we’ve worked really hard and we can only get better from this.”

Earlier in the night there was success for Morgan Lake, the first year psychology student finishing sixth in an extremely close women’s high jump final. Still just 20 years old, Lake cleared 1.84m, 1.88m and 1.92m at the first time of asking, needing two attempts to clear 1.95m.

In the end 1.97m was one height too far, which incidentally was the height need to win bronze. Post-event Lake paid tribute to her coach Fuzz Caan, whom she linked up with on moving to Loughborough twelve months ago.

“I came tenth last year in Rio, sixth this year, so we I’ll just keep pushing on, keep doing as I’m doing and hopefully it’ll all work out. Last year I was just absolutely ecstatic to make the final and this year this is me coming sixth, so I think that just shows how much I’ve moved on this year and in an environment where I’ll hopefully be challenging for medals in years to come.

“To have 60,000 people and a home crowd behind you was just incredible. In high jump first attempts are very important, which I saw tonight; fourth place jumped the same height that I jumped. I definitely need to work on my first attempts but I absolutely loved it tonight.”

Loughborough based Ashley Bryant put in an admirable display in the men’s decathlon, a gruelling 10 events contested over two days. A stunning final lap in the final event of the competition, the 1500m, saw Bryant rewarded with a 4.27.15 personal best, which moved him from 15th to 11th on the final standings.

Earlier in the day both the British men’s and women’s 4x400m quartets advanced to their respective finals, with Martyn Rooney and Emily Diamond both running the final leg. Both teams will be hoping to emulate their sprint relay counterparts tomorrow night.

Also in action on Sunday night will be Robbie Grabarz after he booked his spot in the men’s high jump final. Another former student, the London 2012 bronze medallist will hope to be in the shake-up for the medals after equalling his season’s best in qualifying.

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Pete Matthews
PR Officer (Sport)
Loughborough University