GB women's sprint relay running - a short history: Stuart Weir writes on the changing confidence of GBR team


In his fourth piece for our coverage of the Weltklasse, Stuart Weir writes on the British women's sprint relay team. I have met with Des Henry and Dina Asher Smith. I find them both thoughtful and focused. Stuart Weir allows us to see just how special that they are!

Akinosun-Bowie4x1m1b-WC17.JPGThe battle for London 4x100m is on! photo by

GB women's sprint relay running - a short history

That the GB women's relay team looked so disappointed to finish second to Jamaica in the Zὕrich Cup relay competition at the Westklasse says a lot about the mentality of the team. It also shows how far British sprint relay running has come. Let us recall:

2008 Olympics - did not finish

2009 World Championships-sixth

2010 European Championships and 2011 World Championships - did not reach the final.

It was at the 2010 Europeans, that GB head coach, Charles van Commenee, gave the girls a very public dressing down.

In the 2012 European Championships it was the plan to run a time sufficient to confirm their place in the 2012 Olympics. The time was achieved only for the team to be DQed, leaving Britain with no women's relay team in their home Olympics.

Phoenix-like out of that disaster has risen the strongest GB women's relay team in living memory. The phoenix actually rose from the floor in the corridor of the Crown Plaza in Moscow in 2013. As the girls sat on the floor, having finished fourth in World Championship relay, one of them let out a scream. It had just popped up on the internet that France had been disqualified. GB was now the bronze medalists. In 2014 they won European gold, setting a national record. In 2015 it was fourth place in the World Championships, in 2016 silver in the European championship and bronze in Rio. Then, silver in London 2017 behind the Americans.

That brings us to Zὕrich where the team was doubly disappointed - that they lost to Jamaica, anchored by Elaine Thompson, by one hundredth of a second and that their time of 41.86, though faster than London 2017 was not a national record.

When I spoke to them afterwards I jokingly asked why they had not run a hundredth of a second faster . Daryll Neita (anchor) said "It was my fault". In unison the other three said,"No it wasn't". I thought that spoke volumes for their teamspirit.

Asha Philip said: "You don't want to let the team down. You want to give them a good leg and I think that is what I did. This is the third time we have raced as a group this year and it is the fastest we have run. Happy with that".

Desiree Henry added: "Asha put me into a great position and when I passed it to Dina we were in the lead and I just thought 'Get in there, do your thing' so I am very happy with it.

Dina Asher-Smith said philosophically: "we came out here and did the fastest we have done all year. Obviously we would have loved to get the win but it's a race and you win some, you lose some".

Daryll Neita agreed: "They put me in a good position but Elaine just took me by a hundredth of a second. I am really excited for the future because I know there is so much more fun to be had".

Only one of the girls has run sub 11 seconds but through teamwork and practice they have become a force to be reckoned with, proving that sometimes the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. By the way, the team arrived a bit late in Zὕrich. They had had to pop in to Downing Street to see Prime Minister, Theresa May.

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