The Great Britain & Northern Ireland team advanced to three finals and set a world leading time on the opening night of the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan.
The British men’s 4x100m quartet of CJ Ujah (Enfield & Haringey; Jonas Dodoo), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Sutton & District; Benke Blomkvist), Adam Gemili (Blackheath & Bromley; Rana Reider) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Newham & Essex Beagles; Lance Brauman) shrugged off cooling temperatures to comfortably clock the best time in the world this year 38.11 in winning their heat.
The women’s 4x400m team of Zoey Clark (Thames Valley; Eddie McKenna), Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey; Christine Bowmaker), Amy Allcock (Aldershot Farnham & District; Glyn Hawkes) and Emily Diamond (Bristol & West; Blomkvist) got the British team off to a fine start in Yokohama qualifying to the final third overall in 3:28.31.
The men’s 4x400m quartet of Rabah Yousif (Newham & Essex Beagles; Carol Williams), Dwayne Cowan (Hercules Wimbledon; Lloyd Cowan), Cameron Chalmers (Guernsey; James Hillier) and Martyn Rooney (Croydon) followed suit next up, sixth overall in 3:03.11.
With the IAAF World Relays acting as a qualifying event for the IAAF World Championships in Doha layer in the year, each of these three performances in Yokohama ensured Britain will field teams in those events in Qatar.
A fourth was added in the form of the mixed 4x400m with Alex Haydock-Wilson (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow; Michael Baker), Finette Agyapong (Newham & Essex Beagles; Coral Nourrice), Anyika Onuora (Liverpool; Blomkvist) and Jamal Rhoden-Stevens (Shaftesbury Barnet; Donovan Reid) wrapping up the British action, placing 12th overall following the heats for qualification for Doha .
World and European champions, the British men’s 4x100m looked very comfortable in winning the first of three heats at the Nissan Stadium, led off superbly by Ujah. Airlines-Aryeetey powered down the back straight and Gemili ran a nice bend to hand over to Mitchell-Blake on anchor and cruised to the line to clock 38:11.
Gemili said: “It was cold and we just wanted to get through, stay healthy and be sensible. We were pretty safe with the check marks but we did a job relying on our foot speed.”
The British women’s 4x400m quartet cruised around the first of three heats with Clark setting the tone on leg one before strong runs from Nielsen on two and Allcock on three. Diamond took the challenge to Poland in the final lap and ensured the British team crossed in 3:28.31 to automatically qualify for Sunday’s final in third overall and therefore secure a spot in the event in Doha.
Clark said: “I thought we executed the race as we planned to. We were in lane nine which does make it difficult to set up the race – you’re running blind – but we came second [in their heat] so that’s us qualified for Doha next year and job done really.”
The men’s 4x400m were very competitive throughout a first heat including the USA and Jamaica with Yousif leading the team out and handing over to Cowan with little in the early running.
That continued from Cowan to Chalmers with Rooney battling on anchor after a knock from the Czech runner as they clocked 3:03.11. Third in their heat placed them sixth overall, comfortably a place in the final and a lane in the event at the IAAF World Championships later this year.
Rooney said: “It was very hard, rusty. You can tell that for us it is the start of the season and that the guys need a few more races and we’ll be up winning these heats.”
Opting to run man-woman-woman-man, Haydock-Wilson, Agyapong, Onuora and Rhoden-Stevens clocked 3:20.49 for fourth in the second of three heats, a time that placed them 12th overall – enough for qualification for the IAAF World Championships.
It was the first time the British team have run the mixed 4x400m on the international stage and Agyapong said: “We are disappointed not to come in the top two to qualify [for the final] but this is our first mixed 4x400m relay and I guess it is a learning curve. We have got time to work on it now and mix it up a bit.”
The women’s 4x100m quartet were the third British team up in Yokohama, taking to the track in heat two of three but did not finish.