Team GB Results at 2017 World Relays:
Men’s 4x100m: DNF
Women’s 4x100m: DNS
Men’s 4x400m: 6th
Women’s 4x400m: 4th
GB got 2 out of 4 medals from the relays in Rio, one being an historic first medal in the women’s 4x100m. Going into the World Relays in Bahamas these championships could be seen as an opportunity for the women’s teams to continue their development and build on their Rio success and for the men’s teams it was an opportunity to seek redemption (4x100m) or justice (4x400m) for their respective Rio woes. What transpired though was an across the board regression of all the GB teams and a big warning klaxon with a home World champs in just 4 months.
Men’s 4x100m: There are many words that can be used to describe the GB men’s 4x100m team’s performances since bronze at the 2009 world championships. None of them positive. Atrocious, disgraceful, pitiful are more in the ball park. Since 2009 at global champs (Olympics, Worlds and World Relays). The team has medalled once (2014 World relay bronze) and only completed a final on one other occasion (5th in Rio 2016). The other 5 champs they were either DQed or dropped the baton. For a team that won a shock gold in Athens cos they were so well drilled this is simply unacceptable performance. They’ve had numerous woes over this period: poor selections, lack of talent, injuries, inexperience but when it boils down to it they’ve consistently choked ,they don’t perform when it counts and it needs sorting. When they came 5th in Rio they were beaten by both Japan and China, teams with relatively weak individual sprinters but with extremely slick changeovers. This is what the GB team used to be famed for, solid consistency. I had no great hopes that Bahamas would be a reversal of our recent fortunes and unfortunately I was proved right. We won our heat with a team of Ujah, Hughes, Gemili and Talbot anchoring. Nothing wrong with that quartet. But the order? Why put your weakest man on the anchor. It’s madness. Something is very wrong with the selection policy. For the final Talbot was moved to the 3rd leg (right decision) and Gemili was swapped for youngster Edoburun (potentially cos Gemili was injured). Now there’s nothing wrong with bringing an in form youngster into the team but to anchor. In a global final. Idiocy. Put him on the back straight. Anyways the result? Edoborun set off too fast and the changeover was screwed up. It was simply inexperience and we shouldn’t blame the boy, we should blame the fool that put him on the last leg. For London there is much to do. They should train to be a baton passing machine and what’s more they should have a no 1 quartet and order so there’s no need for chopping and changing. I personally suggest: Hughes, Ujah, Talbot, Gemili but what do I know.
Women’s 4x100m: The GB Women’s 4x100m bronze in Rio was the exceptional GB relay performance of the Games. Just 4 years prior they had failed to even qualify for the Games, and last year the young quartet of Phillip, Henry, Asher-Smith and Neita ran a stunning new national record of 41.77 to win GB’s first medal in the event since LA 1984. That medal was symbolic of the rising standard of GB female sprinting, after decades in the doldrums, there are signs that GB are on the brink of becoming a real force in the world stage. Led by the ridiculously talented Dina Asher-Smith, who has already reached 2 major world finals before the age of 21, and is single handedly writing the GB record books. Asha Philip has recently become European Indoor Champion over 60m and Desiree Henry has great potential as well as having one the world’s best yardsticks in training partner Daphne Schippers to aim for. Unfortunately GB pulled out of the World Relays due to a number of niggly injuries and while this was no doubt the right decision. It’d of been nice to have seen how they have continued to develop.
Men’s 4x400m: I don’t think we’ll ever know why the GB men’s 4x400m team were DQed in Rio it was just one of numerous questionable officiating decisions and it’ll probably forever be a tar on the games. Whether they would have won a medal we’ll never know, but if we crudely compare their heat winning “time” to the medal winning times, it suggests not. Of course that doesn’t take into account potential line up changes or the fact you step up in a final. Since those games Nigel Levine, relay mainstay and solid 400m runner was involved in a horrific motorcycle crash in Tenerife and may never been able to run again, this has obviously weakened the team significantly, then you have Martyn Rooney. For years our anchor and British No 1 but despite an abundance of talent he has always failed to deliver when it really mattered, and for that reason it’s time he goes so the team can build for the future. British Athletics seemed to share my sentiment as Rooney did not run in Nassau. The team of Matt Hudson-Smith, Delano Williams, Jarryd Dunn and Theo Campbell came 6th and sadly I feel this maybe a warning sign of a lull in GB men’s 4×4. Out of that quartet only Hudson-Smith has the potential to be world class, and for perhaps the first time in history, GB had no men’s 400m runners at the European Indoors. Traditionally we have always been strong in the men’s 4×4. Roger Black, Jamie Baulch, Iwan Thomas, Kriss Akabusi and even John Regis all had incredible unforgettable moments in the event, but maybe a trough is iminent. Time will tell.
Women’s 4x400m: In Nassau, this was the event we came closest to medalling in and I can’t really put my finger on why we didn’t to be honest. There was a turbo charge finish from Swiety of Poland, and Ohurougu lost out in a battle with MacPherson of Jamaica. I cannot help thinking the unthinkable, that former World and Olympic Champion Ohurougu may be starting to decline. She’s no spring chicken of course and she has suggested she would retire but it seems right now that our latest golden age of British Athletics is ending, the 2012 generation is stepping aside and that’s really sad. What’s worse is that I don’t see the athletes coming to continue the success. Over the last 10 years British athletes have been superstars, the very best in the World. Farah, Ennis, Ohurougu, Idowu, Dai Greene, Rutherford, the list goes on but where are their successors? It feels like we’re heading for a grey period like after the likes of Jackson, Lewis and Edwards retired where win do very little on the global stage but hopefully I’m wrong. Back to the women’s 4×4 though I think their future unlike their male counterparts, is fairly bright with the Nelson twins plus quality 400m hurdler Eilidh Doyle, there is a solid core to move into the post Ohurougu era.
Overall: With regard to the Men’s 4×1 British Athletics needs to sort itself because it is a mess, and it shouldn’t be unlike other nations we have dedicated relay squads and runners that are funded just to be on the relay, they should be specialists and they’re not even solid. They also need to sort the selection out. On the women’s side they have a clear pool of runners of which the relay is selected from, whereas the men it seems to be whoever’s in favour with the establishment at the time. Take Dasaolu for instance despite being no 2 on the all time list behind Christie, he was originally frozen out the team for being injury prone. Then he was brought in for the 2016 season (although left out of the Olympic final, which they screwed up). Before being stripped of ALL funding in 2017 due to poor performance, when the likes of Harry AA who seems more concerned with his muscle to fat percentage than sprinting, keeps his funding, as well as a bobsledder who has never ran competitively for GB in senior competition. It’s madness. With regard to the other teams, the World Relays was not the best but at least they know what to tune up for London. In terms of how we’ll do in London both Women’s teams can definitely medal, on paper the Men’s 4×1 should medal but they won’t cos they’re a mess and the Men’s 4x400m I don’t think has the quality to medal anymore but hopefully they can surprise me. London 2017 will be very interesting.