It was a solid start for British Athletics on the penultimate day of the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, with all four relay teams qualifying for the tomorrow’s finals.
The men’s 4x400m team started their campaign in fine fashion with victory in the opening heat. The quartet of Rabah Yousif (coach: Carol Williams), Delano Williams (Neil Harrison), Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) and Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) took control of the race, leading from start to finish and crossing the line in 2:59.05.
Captain Rooney, who anchored the team home said: “It was good fun – the guys did a great job and it was nice to get the baton in front, last time in the heats here I think I led it out and it was nice to do it again.
“The guys did such a great job and made it very easy for me – the first two legs were world class and we’ve been lacking that if we’re completely honest with ourselves. Obviously now Rabah is a world finalist and Delano, is going to be our new star. He’s given us something extra. I think having those two guys on first two legs will make a massive difference for us.
“And Jarryd had a point to prove after his individual – he ran very well today. He made smart decisions throughout. The French guy tried to crowd him out, but he stayed in front of him – he knew if he went behind him we were all in trouble so he did really well.”
The women’s 4x400m followed also qualified for the final with a second place finish behind USA. Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), Anyika Onuora (Reider), Kirsten McAslan (Trevor Painter) and Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) will go into tomorrow’s showdown off the back of a first round clocking of 3:23.90.
After their convincing qualification, Onuora added: “I was just thinking about that this morning how it was mad like I was in Zurich with the 4x100m team at the European Champs this time last year and obviously we went on to break the national record, and a year later I’m running with these girls. Personally it feels like a massive upgrade! I love running with these girls and although the 400m is hard at times with the lactic, I am really enjoying it. We’ve got a good group of girls and job done today which was qualifying safely and hopefully picking up a medal.”
Asha Philip (Steve Fudge), Jodie Williams (Christine Bowmaker), Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) and Desiree Henry (Rana Reider) were just over two-hundredths of a second outside the British 4x100m record in the first round. The team produced three smooth changeovers as they clocked 42.48 to finish second behind Jamaica, who set a world-leading time of 41.84.
Philip, who got the team to a flying start said: “These girls have worked so hard this year, and especially last few weeks. We just believe in each other – I know what they’re capable of. So for them to go out and come third in world relays, come third in Moscow and get gold in the Europeans they can rise to the occasion. They’re ready and they’re born performers.”
The men’s 4x100m were also second in their heat, finishing behind USA with a season’s best of 38.20. It was a strong opening exchange between Richard Kilty (Reider) and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Reider), before James Ellington (Linford Christie) and Danny Talbot (Dan Cossins) bought the team home for a flawless start to the day for the British team.
After their first round test, Ellington admitted there is plenty more to come from the team: ““The main thing was just to get through safely – I think all of us were just being a bit too cautious. I know I waited until Harry was on his check mark before I went and probably the same for these guys. Mine and Danny’s change could have been a bit quicker – we were coming around at the same time and it could have been a bit quicker. We’re going to push it to the limits in the final.”
British Athletics medals at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing, China
Mo Farah (10,000m)
Jessica Ennis-Hill (Heptathlon)
Greg Rutherford (Long jump)
Shara Proctor (Long Jump)