From having no team at London 2012, to bronze medals at Moscow 2013 and Rio 2016 and now silver in London 2017, where will the relentless rise of British female sprint relay running end? Dare we dream of gold in Doha 2019 or Tokyo 2020?
Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita combined incredible talent and sizzling speed with slick-baton exchanges and terrific technique in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening to achieve the best-ever result by a British women’s sprint relay team on the global stage as they finished runners up to the United States.
It is an amazing turn-around following the GB team’s abject failure to qualify for the London Olympics, although the nadir came at the European Championships in 2010 when head coach Charles van Commenee famously called them “a disgrace” as the press were within earshot in a hotel in Barcelona.
“It’s the best we’ve ever done in a worldwide championships,” said Asher-Smith, whose GB team clocked 42.12 behind the United States’ 41.82. “To be able to do it in London is amazing.”
Philip added: “We’re all Londoners as well. To have this here in the London Stadium is amazing. We didn’t even have a team here in 2012. We got an upgrade from Rio and this is definitely the best so far.
“These girls has been absolutely incredible – and to do it at home means so much,” Philip added. “Thank you so much to the incredible crowd. What a lift they have us. We are so proud to win the medal in London.”
What message does this send? Philip smiled: “It sends a message that we don’t just drop the baton anymore! We get it around!”
British anchor runner Neita said: “We’ve smashed it! We worked so hard for this. I tried my best down that last stretch and I’m glad to bring the team home to silver. We work so hard as a team so we are delighted.”
Henry added: “The relay is so important. At the end of the day none of us could do it alone, it’s one big team effort.”
The US team was led off by Aaliyah Brown followed by Allyson Felix, Morolake Akinosun and individual 100m winner Tori Bowie.
Felix said: “We were really excited to pull this one off. It wasn’t perfect but I was proud of the girls that we were still able to get that stick around despite the hiccups during the race.”
In third, the Jamaican team of Jura Levy, Natasha Morrison, Simone Facey and Sashalee Forbes ran 42.19, while Germany’s quartet of Tatjana Pinto, Lisa Mayer, Gina Luckenkemper and Rebekka Haase clocked 42.36 in fourth.
“Every moment I am on these relay teams is a privilege,” added Felix. “I have the best time and just enjoy it. It was a great finish by Tori but every one of the team performed fantastically.”
Bowie added: “We are on top of the world. I am grateful to be able to run and bring these ladies home to the gold. It has been a mixed week but two gold medals (100m and 4x100m) is amazing for me.”
Jamaica refused to speculate on why Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was not in their team and Facey said: “It is a very young team and we have to take that as encouragement. We obviously wanted the gold medal but we are happy with bronze. It is not our usual team but it shows we have a lot of young talent through so they have gained a valuable experience out here.”
Source: Jason Henderson| AW