The concern in building a new generation of athletics fans is ongoing. Purposeful, diverse columns, audio, video, text based features that give you a unique view into the sport are what it is all about. Stuart Weir gets it. His love of the sport, his appreciation of the humans involved, in their success and failures, are what make his pieces so, well gripping. The women’s 4x100m team in GBR does not get much of the recongnition that they deserve. Their strength is in the fluidity of their approach. Thanks, Stuartr, on writing this on your train delay on Monday.
In praise of British women’s sprint relays.
In 2012, for the home Olympics, Britain famously did not have women’s sprint relay team. To qualify you needed to be ranked in the world’s top 16. GB were – but only just. The plan was to secure a good time at the European Champs a month before the Olympics. The team was fast but DQed and other teams moved above them in the rankings. It was so late that there were no more opportunities to secure the a top 16 time.
The revolution began in 2013 with four girls sitting on the carpeted corridor of a Moscow hotel – there was no internet in the rooms – having finished fourth in the women’s sprint relay. One of the girls screamed as she read that France had been DQed and they had won bronze. Our record since that has been
2014 European gold
2015World Championship fourth in a National Record time
2016 Olympic bronze; European silver
2017 World Championship silver
2018 European gold
In Bydgoszcz, with only one athlete from their medal-winning teams they still took second place.
Kristal Awuah described it as “amazing for a new team”. Bianca Williams, veteran of the team said: “I really enjoyed being with the girls. We had a few days to train and with Rachel being brand new and not really having much relay experience, we invited her in and gave her the confidence”.
Eilidh Doyle, Rachel Miller, Glasgow 2019 buildup, photo by Getty Images/European Athletics.
Rachel Miller on the last leg is a remarkable athlete. Look up her records and you will see that ran 12.9 for 100m in 2006 (aged 16). It was then over eight years before she competed again. In 2015 she ran 11.70, 11.46 in 2016 and 11.45 in 2017. Nothing to write home about, but in 2019 she made the GB team twice. (see https://www.runblogrun.com/2019/03/2019-glasgow-diary-rachel-miller.html)
Speaking this week she said: ” I felt like a little fish in a big pond at first but having these lovely ladies in the team who have the experience, invited me in, as Bianca said, and made me feel confident”.
Isn’t it great that our sport can allow someone to break int international competition at 29.