This is Stuart Weir’s first piece on the first day of athletics. Day one was a bit crazy, as Stuart Weir sends photos and comments that I post on our sixteen social sites. Once the session is over, and I have finished social media, I post our stories from around the world! Stuart will write over 200 pieces this year for @runblogrun. We are most grateful for his observations and love of the sport.
The outstanding British performance in the morning session of the opening session of Tokyo 2020 was Daryll Neita’s second place in the 100m prelim behind Ma-jo Ta Lou. OK this was a prelim and there are no prizes for performing well in a prelim BUT Neita became just the second British athlete ever to run under 11 seconds for100m when she stopped the clock at 10.96.
She commented afterwards: “I don’t want to say it, but it felt like it could have been better. Obviously really grateful and really happy for that first round, executing and getting a PB. Under 11 seconds is where you need to be heading into the final.
“I actually came here telling myself I have to be in that final. I don’t see any way other than that, honestly, so this is a great stepping stone to that and this shows I can do it, I’m more than capable, so now it’s just about going back, recovering and getting ready for tomorrow”.
After being coached in London for 5 years by Jonas Dodoo – she relocated to USA in 2019 to work with Rana Reider. Having run 11.04, 6, 8 and 9 this year, she was closing in on the 11 second barrier. A semi-finalist at the last two World Championships and the 2018 Europeans she was part of the GB sprint relay team with won European Gold, Olympic and two World Championship medals. Still only 24, she has a bright future ahead of her starting with these Olympics.
It was her mom who first noticed her talent. When she was a child, she was playing in the park with her cousins. While the cousins were older, Daryll could outrun them, which led her mom to get her involved in local running club.
Her break-through came in 2015. She was selected for the European Juniors, coming fourth in 11.69 and then got a lane in the Anniversary Games running 11.43 behind Dafne Schippers, Blessing Okagbare and Tianna Bartoletta, aged just 18. This resulted in her selection for the GB relay squad for the 2015 World Championships. Although she did not run, she felt it was invaluable experience: “Beijing was a great experience and I think that prepared me for Rio because I understood what athletics was about and what a champs was like. So going into Rio had had some exposure to that and Beijing was a big part of my career”.
At the Rio Olympics she missed qualification for the semi-finals by three hundredths of a second, running 11.41. She described her performance in that race as running “tragically badly. I was absolutely gutted because I had wished all my life to be in that position and it had come crumbling down in an awful fashion. I wasn’t happy with how I had performed or with how I handled the whole situation. I thought I wasn’t going to be picked for the relay and that my whole Rio experience was over. When I was picked for the relay, it was like ‘thank God they have given me another chance’. And then to come out with a medal. In the space of three days, my whole life changed. I had never been so down and I have never been so happy – so it worked out well in the end”.
In one sense, today was only a prelim but barriers are so significant in our sport. By being able to call herself a “sub 11” runner She has taken herself to a new level.