After a fantastic week at the World Championships so far, the penultimate day was outstanding for the Brits.
Qualifying in one of the fastest loser spots, Ben Pattison (Basingstoke & Mid Hants, Dave Ragan) ceased the opportunity and stepped up to the challenge. Progressing into the final sitting in 7th position, it was going to take some excellent tactics to walk away with a medal.
After a strong start, the 21-year-old headed to the front and took on the race. Looking for support, he drifted back to second in the closing of the first lap. The sound of the bell ignited something in the likes of Canadian, Marco Arop who charged to the front and really upped the pace. Holding the curb, Ben ran a smart race, waiting for the others to tie up before shifting through the gears and making a surge for the line, holding off the also fast finishing Adrian Ben from Spain. Crossing the line in the bronze spot, Ben Pattison became the first man in 36 years to claim a World 800m medal! After the race, Ben said:
“I can’t think of anything to say. I crossed the line and I feel like I’ll wake up in a minute. All day I’ve had people telling me I’m going to medal and halfway through the day I started to believe it.
“Going into the race I didn’t want to leave with any regrets. I got out hard. It was a slow first lap which suits me and the last 100m I said to myself I’ve got a medal here. To the line it was a battle of who wants it more and I came out on top.
“After the semi I didn’t sleep until 5am because I was buzzing to make the final. Midway through today I was like ‘if you come fourth or eighth no one cares, it’s about the top three’ and I managed to do that today.”
The 8th day of competition was all about the relays with the men’s and women’s 4x100m events closing the proceedings. The same women’s quartet who won the fantastic Commonwealth gold last year were flying the flag for Great Britain.
60m specialist Asha Philip (Newham and Essex Beagles, Amy Deem) put her explosive start to excellent use, passing the baton to Imani Lansiquot (Sutton & District, Ryan Freckleton) to take the long back straight leg. Against the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Mari-Josee Ta Lou, Imani held her own and had a smooth changeover to Bianca Williams (Thames Valley Harriers, Linford Christie). She used her fantastic 200m experience from earlier in the week to safely deliver to Cambridge Harrier, Daryll Neita (Marco Airale). With the Ivory Coast and Netherlands faulting on their changeovers, it was all to play for.
With a head-to-head for gold and silver between the USA’s Sha’Carri Richardson and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, GB were in their own battle, holding off the Italians to secure their space on the podium in a season’s best time of 41.97. Philip assessed:
“We knew it was going to be tough, all teams are basically top tier right now and we knew if I set us up with a good start we’d come home with another medal.
“That’s what I hope I did. I’m glad that I was able to put the team in a great position and Imani charged down that backstraight and did her thing.
Neita added: “I tried to stay as relaxed as I could. I saw Bianca come into me and it was all about trust today. It was about getting that baton round in one piece and then just closing to the finish. I’m really proud of the girls today, we got a medal and it’s a really inspiring team to be part of. I’m so proud of us.”
The men’s quarter of Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff, Marco Ariale), Zharnel Hughes (Shaftesbury, Glen Mills), Adam Gemili (Blackheath and Bromley, Marco Ariale) and Eugene Amo-Dadzie (Woodford Green, Steve Fudge) performed spectacularly but finished in an agonising fourth place on the night, unable to match the pace of those on the podium.
Earlier in the day saw the qualification for both 4x400m relay teams. The women’s quartet of Laviai Nielsen (Enfield and Haringey, Phillip Unfried), Amber Anning (Brighton & Hove, Chris Johnson), Nicole Yeargin (Pitreavie, Boogie Johnson) and Yemi Mary John (Woodford Green Essex Ladies, Alan James) had a fantastic race, competing with the American team throughout before taking the win in a time of 3:23.33.
In the men’s event, silver medallists Lewis Davey (Newham and Essex Beagles, Trevor Painter) and Rio Mitcham (Birchfield, Leon Baptiste) from the mixed event earlier in the week were joined by Alex Haydock-Wilson and Charlie Dobson (Colchester, Benke Blomkvist). Davey opened the race with a strong leg, delivering the baton safely to 200m specialist Dobson, placed in 4th at the halfway point. Mitcham ran a fantastic lap, passing to Haydock-Wilson who managed to dig deep and hold third place to qualify for the final in a time of 2:59.42.
After winning his first world medal earlier in the week, it was Zharnel Hughes’ second attempt over the 200m. No stranger to running a fantastic bend, it was even coming into the home straight before USA’s Noah Lyles powered away to take the gold. Finishing just 0.21 behind third place Botswanan Letsile Tebogo, it was fourth place for Hughes in 20.02.
In the women’s race, both Daryll Neita and Dina Asher-Smith were representing, qualifying in 5th and 7th place respectively. In such a competitive field, the British duo were unfortunately unable to improve their rankings and remained in those spots, with a fantastic PB for Neita (22.16) and 22.34 for Asher-Smith.
Over the two laps, Wigan’s Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter) was back in action for the semi-final. Leading the race throughout Keely ran the first 100m faster than anyone else. The final 100m was much the same, seeing off a challenge from USA’s Nia Akins, showing her dominance to up her speed and take the win, safely into Sunday’s final.
“Definitely the main aim was to get there [the final] first. I was really up for today. I was really excited to get going again and it felt really comfortable which is positive and a confidence booster ahead of the final. I am looking forward to it. The stadium is amazing, the vibe is amazing so good hopes for Sunday.”
Over on the in-field, Morgan Lake (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow, Robbie Grabarz) advanced to the final with a clearance of 1.92m to finish in 4th overall. A nervous competition, Lake entered at 1.85 and it took three attempts for her to clear the height and settle into the competition. Her first-time clearances at 1.89m and 1.92m booked her spot in Sunday’s final. Afterwards she reflected:
“A lot of nerves on the opening bar that was the main thing. On the first bar, I didn’t actually realise it was my go and I was tightening my shoelaces up and saw my name on the board. Then I had to run over to my mark and I think just then I hadn’t had the right prep into that first bar, which was a rookie error – Need to always know your order!
“But then getting over that on the 3rd attempt, showed me I do have mentality to jump the bar in front of me when I really need to.”
Lead image by Mark Shearman, Zharnel Hughes image by World Athletics/Getty