Team GB women’s 4x400m squad ran the third-fastest time ever by a British quartet as the track and field programme at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics came to a close.
Their time of 3:22.59 was good enough for fifth in a high-quality final in which USA took gold with the fifth fastest time in history (3:16.85). Ama Pipi (Enfield & Haringey; Linford Christie) led off with a 52.32 split before handing on to individual finalist Jodie Williams (Herts Phoenix; Ryan Freckleton), who had a superb leg. Her 49.42 is believed to be the equal third quickest ever in a relay by a Brit. Emily Diamond (Bristol & West; Benke Blomqvist) then took over and was timed at 50.41 before Scotland’s Nicole Yeargin ran a 50.44. Pipi, who reached the semi-finals of the individual event, said:
“It’s the fastest we’ve run in a long time and I think we have a lot of potential, and we are still getting better and growing as a team and we have a lot to look forward to in the future. This Olympics has been amazing, it’s my first one and we’ve made the final so lots to look forward to.”
Williams was similarly enthused by the experience, especially after what has been, for her, a leap forward in her career.
“It’s been a crazy Olympics,” she said. “I’d have loved to have come out here and medalled with these girls, I know there’s potential to and we will do in the future. It was a great way to top off a pretty good Games, going out there with these strong women and just representing our country.”
In the 10,000m final, Jess Judd (Blackburn; Mick Judd) was 17th in 31:56.80. She went out at below PB pace but then struggled in the hot conditions. She said afterwards: “It was just so hard. I felt like I was doing the right thing at every point and then I don’t know, it just got even harder, and with 2k to go I just thought I’ve just got to finish. The hardest race I’ve ever done. I didn’t think I was going to get round, but I did, which is good. I was thinking don’t do anything silly, you just realise you’re so hot, I was like I’m really overheating now, and then you try and tell yourself I’m not hot, I’m fine, but I couldn’t have done any more.”
Unfortunately, high jumper Morgan Lake (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) was unable to start her final due to a foot injury she sustained in qualification. Lake, who jumped an outdoor season’s best of 1.95m in qualifying, had been receiving treatment but during the warm-up realised she could not compete.
Stephanie Davis (Clapham Chaser; Phillip Kissi) was the best of the British marathoners in the extremely tough conditions. Even at the start at 6am, the temperature was 25C, growing to 29C and 67% humidity by the end. Olympic trials winner Davis was 39th in 2:36:33, just over nine minutes behind winner Peres Jepchirchir (2:27:20). “I thought I started sensibly and I felt in control until 15km,” she said. “I had in my mind I would assess things every few km and, at 30km, I thought I might be able to push on a bit. But you just can’t. I am so glad I paced the way I did early on and I was really consistent after that. You can’t go out too fast. I stayed at the back of the pack, I watched them go and that was ok. I didn’t panic, stayed patient and I am an Olympian and I can’t believe it!”
Jess Coulson (Stockport; Robert Hawkins) suffered from stomach problems from around halfway and ended up 71st in 2:55:39. “I had to keep stopping and nothing was staying in. I became really depleted of energy and that then exposed me more to the heat. So, by that point, I was in survival mode, and I had to just get round. It took every ounce of my willpower to finish. It took a lot of determination to do that, but I wasn’t going to stop in an Olympic marathon. I had some medical attention at the end, but now I am okay. It wasn’t the race I wanted, or a reflection of the fitness where I am at.”