Day One at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas saw mixed emotions for the British Athletics teams, with both 4x400m teams finishing second in their heats to secure places in tomorrow’s finals, whilst the 4x100m team reached the final before failing to finish, after leading all the way until the home straight.
The evening started off solidly as the team of Chijindu Ujah (coach: Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo), Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills), Adam Gemili (Rana Reider) and Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) eased through the heats of the men’s Men’s 4x100m to secure their spot in the final. An impressive and smooth run saw the team win Heat 3 in a time of 38.32secs.
With a limited number of opportunities to test combinations against world class competition before the London World Championships this summer, the final saw Ojie Edoburun (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) come in as anchor and Danny Talbot move to leg three – with Adam Gemili sitting out the second run of the evening, in a tactical move looking towards London.
Taking out the team with a storming first leg, Chijindu Ujah said: “We took it out well and I passed it to Zharnel who took it off. I’m really proud of this team, we are still trying out combinations and mistales happen. But our the ultimate aim is to finish on that podium in London.”
Showing he really is a world class athlete, Zharnel Hughes ran a brilliant second leg to open up the gap between Great Britain and the United States and hand over in the lead “I tried my very best to open up that gap as much as possible and as you can see Danny was in the lead as he came round the bend. It’s just unfortunate that Ojie Edoburun took off from his check mark a little bit early, because I definitely think we’d have finished with a gold medal.”
Danny Talbot said “I thought we ran really well in the first round and in the final, until the last changeover. It’s important that we learn from things like this and come together even stronger as a team. Yeah we made a mistake, but we’ll be there for each other and we’ll get it right at London 2017.”
At just 20-years-of-age, an understandably deject Ojie Edoburun said “It’s hard to digest right now, but it’s just about learning from my mistake and learning from being in this environment.”
Also using the opportunity to try out a new running order ahead of the World Championships in London, the Olympic bronze medallists from Rio secured their place in tomorrow’s 4x400m final with a solid run of 3:33.00 to finish second in their heat.
Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold), who led the team out said “I found that tough. I felt like I went off pretty hard and probably went off at the same rate I would in the middle of the season forgetting that it’s April, but I’m probably not in the same shape as I would be then. I felt I died a little bit coming down the home straight and I was just trying to get the baton to Emily as soon as I could.”
Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon), who ran leg one in the heat in Rio and third leg in the Olympic Final, was on the second leg in the Bahamas: “We knew the Bahamas and Canada were front loading, so the plan was to run the first bend as hard as I could for a 400m.”
Usually the team’s second leg runner, Anyika Onuora (Rana Reider) ran a great third leg to put the Brits in the lead: “It was a fun run and it was nice to be back running with the girls. We got the job done for tomorrow’s final and it’s time to get ready to put in the work tomorrow.”
“I had to get ahead before we got to the second bend or I’d be running wide,” said anchor runner Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball). “We are not in the shape we will be at London this summer, so maybe I could have brought us home in first place a bit later in the season, but I think it took a bit out of my legs…and I’m just glad I made it to 400m to be honest!”
The Men’s 4x400m also secured their spot in tomorrow’s final by finishing second in a time of 3:05.19, beating the Bahamas (Olympic bronze medallists from Rio) into third spot and Belgium (2016 European Champions).
Running a great first leg to put the team into the lead from the start Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) said “I enjoyed that, it was the first race of the season. I wanted to try a few things and they didn’t all go how I wanted them to, but it was good for the first run of the season and it was just about executing tonight.”
“I did exactly what Stephen Maguire wanted me to do” said leg two runner Delano Williams (Neil Harrison). “It was a good run and I’m looking forward to the finals tomorrow.”
Taking a wide first bend on the third leg, Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) said “I always take it wide on the first bend, if anyone wants to get past me, you’ve got to go the long way round. I’m not as big as someone like Theo so I’ve got to make myself felt in other ways.”
Theo Campbell (James Hillier) who was representing the senior British Athletics team for the first time said: “Making this step up hit me harder than I expected. Coming into the bend lactic hit me, so I had to wait until the straight to rebuild and I got a little second hit. But it’s my first run of the season and first for the senior team, I know I can run better than that and hopefully I will get the chance tomorrow in the final.”
Added Dunn: “We’ve beaten the Olympic bronze medallists and the European Champions, so it’s a very good run. It’s early in the season, we’ve got the final tomorrow and this already puts us in a good position for London.”