2019 Yokohama Diary: Brits in Yokohama

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JeVon Hutchison USA men 4x400 heats 2019-05-11 World Relays Yokohama 2019 by Roger Sedres.JPGJevon Hutchinson, USA, Martyn Rooney, GBR, 4x400m heats, Yokohama, May 11, 2019, photo by Roger Sedres, IAAF

Stuck in the Doha airport, Stuart wrote 3 more pieces for @runblogrun. Thats what happens when one goes from 2 hours to 5 hours. Thanks Stuart! Fascinated with UK approach to relays, wonder if it could work in USA?

Brits in Yokohama

As is their wont, Team GB only contested the championship distances - five this year including the 4 by 400 mixed relay. Relays are important to UK Athletics. In 2017, GB had a funding target of 6 medals at the World Championship - that means less than 6 medals and Government funding for Track and Field would have been reduced for 2018. By the morning of the penultimate day of London 2017, GB had 2 medals (both Mo Farah). Then a medal in all four relays took the team to their target. For that reason, GB funds 25 athletes for relay squads. Last week there was a GB relay camp in Japan

So how do we assess Team GB's performance in Yokohama? There was only one medal - the men's 4 by 100 took bronze in 38.15 behind Brazil (38.05) and USA (38.07). Harry Aikines-Ayreetey said for the team: "We're excited to come together as a team, we have come out and represented our country, which is so important to us. We've come third. Two years ago [in the World Relays] we didn't finish and still became world champions. It's a process. We are doing things here to make it right for the future, for championships and the Olympics, that's the main aim for us".

In a fine show of teamwork, Netheneel Mitchell-Blake said that it was his error that deprived them of a chance of victory: "It's on me. I think I left early so I take the blame for it. Hopefully I will get another chance to rectify it". However, his comments were immediately challenged by Aikines-Ayreetey who responded: "It's very gracious of him to say that. But it a team effort and nobody is mad at anybody".

The women's 4 by 100 messed up the second change in the heat, while in a good position and failed to finish. Adam Gemili from the men's sprint squad said: "The girls have nothing to worry about. They have such fantastic talent. They have been trying new things in training. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If you are going to make mistakes this is the place to do it".

The men's 4 by 400 were 5th (sixth until USA were DQed) in 3.04.96. Trinidad won in 3.00.81. Martyn Rooney, who has seen it all before, said: "We were rusty - we haven't run yet as a team this year so we've come out and had a go. To make the final and qualify for Doha was the main objective. Today was just to make a bit of cash. The time was poor but we're looking to run well at the World Champs when it comes to the real medals and doing our jobs to the best of our ability".

The women's 4 by 400 were 6th in 3.28.96 well behind winners Poland (3.27.49). Laviai Nielsen said: "We know that we've got five or six months to perfect our races. Today was just about seeing what we can do. We came together well as a team and we know there is still lots of room for improvement. I know we will come away taking lessons from our race today. So we are hopeful going forward through the season. We are not disheartened because we know that our first few races don't always go the best". Amy Allcock added: "Everyone is beatable at the end of the day. We're here to be competitive. Sixth was what we got but we know well that we can push higher".

The mixed 4 by 400 relay team did not reach the final, finishing 12th fastest in the heats.

The good news is that all but the women's 4 by 100 secured a place in the 2019 World Championships in Doha. The women sprinters will need to run a time this summer which places them in the top 8 not already qualified teams.

Not a brilliant week but everyone seemed confident that it would be all right when it matters.

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