This is Stuart Weir’s assessment on the Team GB after the first couple days in Tokyo.
Two days into the athletics program, how would you assess the progress of Team GB? What criteria is fair? Medals? PRs? Reaching finals?
In the 2011 World Championships, Hannah England gained a silver medal in the 1500m. Two years later, in Moscow, she was fourth. Initially, she was crushed – she had run so well but got no medal. When I spoke to her the following day she had more perspective, commenting “Fourth in the world is bloody good”. And, of course, it is.
However, the UK Government and National Lottery have invested $480 million in British Olympians and Paralympians since the Rio 2016 Games, channeled through UK Sport. The main criteria used to gauge success are medals won. The first two days we have seen excellent performances, disappointments, and a few hard-luck stories.
The highlight so far has been the performance of the three women 800m runners – Jemma Reekie, Keely Hodgkinson, and Alexandra Bell, who cruised through the prelims and were then outstanding in the semi-final to secure three of the eight places in the final. Not bad for three ladies in their first Olympics.
The big news in the 100m was Dina Asher-Smith’s failure to qualify for the final of the 100m, followed by the announcement of her hamstring injury. Daryll Neita will be disappointed to finish last in the final, but she has the satisfaction of breaking into the sub 11 club – she is only the second British athlete to do so. Dina Asher-Smith is the other. And Neita did incredibly well to make the final.
The three men in the 100m, Reece Prescod, CJ Ujah and Zharnel Hughes, all made the semi-final but will need to improve to reach the final.
The saddest moment of the games for me so far is the tale of Jessie Knight. We have featured Jessie several times in RunBlogRun – an elementary school teacher who gave up running, resumed and got selected for the Olympics in the 400m hurdles, and then found herself in the same heat as world record-holder, Sydney McLaughlin, Jessie set off strongly and approaching the first hurdle slipped and fell.
From what I could see she didn’t hit the hurdle but slipped as she approached it. I could have cried. She will hopefully get another chance in a relay but what awful luck.
Eilish McColgan is in the form of her life, having set new PRs in the 5K and 10K this year – including a new national record in the 5,000. In the 5,000 prelim, she was looking in great shape, when she was clipped. She said that she was clipped repeatedly but once particularly badly.
Amy-Eloise Markovc also did not make the 5000 final, finishing 9th but running a PR in her first Olympics. Not a “success” but not a failure either in my book.
Earlier this year, Oliver Dustin ran a World Lead in the 800, but it all went wrong in Tokyo when he finished 6th in 1:46.94. His assessment was succinct: “Not happy. I felt really flat”. Elliot Giles and Daniel Rowden made the semis.
The GB team in the mixed relay was never in contention, finishing sixth. Winners Poland, I am told, set an Olympic record – well yes, it was the first time the event was held!