The last events of the day 2 program were the two 100m sprints. It had been a long day, starting at 10.00am with the last race scheduled for 6.50pm. The day had seen the full range of English weather, rain, bright sunshine, and strong winds.
All the leading women contenders had come through the prelim on a Friday night and the semis on Saturday afternoon. Eight athletes, six of whom had won a major championship medal, whether individual or relay, lined up. The wind for the final was officially recorded at +3.8.
Dina Asher-Smith was the clear favorite. But Daryll Neita had been fastest in the semi-finals with 10.92 to 10.96 (both windy). The race did not disappoint finishing
1 Daryll Neita 10.80
2 Dina Asher-Smith 10.87
3 Imani Lansiquot 11.03
4 Asha Philip 11.09
5 Bianca Williams 11.18
As the photos show, Daryll was rather excited: “I always knew I could do it and it is a great time even though it is with the wind. To be British Champion is wonderful. It is not just about what you go through but more about how you deal with it and this is another stepping stone for me. I do really believe there is no limit to me.
“Making the Olympic final last year was a major achievement. Once there, I realised I still had more in me and I wasn’t so happy with the result because I knew I could do more. It is going great with my new coach and I am just super excited for the rest of the season. The British team now is so strong and it is great that we can challenge each other at these champs”.
Her comments on “what you go through” are probably a reference to the enforced change of coach this year. In 2019 she relocated to the USA to work with Rana Reider. When allegations were made against Reider, British Athletics told their funded athletes to sever connections or risk losing their funding. Neita is now coached by Marco Airale in Italy.
Dina commented: “Of course, I don’t like losing but I am so happy for Daryll; she has been working so hard and really deserves it. Domestically we really have such talent and which pushes us all. The times are impressive even though there was the wind. I am in good shape and things will come together at the right time. It was so cold here today. But the most important thing is to be here and in one piece”.
Imani Lansiquot commented: “My self-belief has been good. I am doing well with my new coach [Stu McMillan] and I am excited about going forward. The relay will be amazing; there is no reason why we can’t go for gold. We have a great bond even though we are competitors”.
British male sprinting has been in a difficult place. In Tokyo, Zharnel Hughes reached the 100m final and false-started, and Reece Prescod false-started in the semi. CJ Ujah, another semi-finalist, is serving a drugs ban. Of the relay team that finished second in Tokyo, Netheleel Mitchell-Blake and Adam Gemili have opted to run only the 200 and Richard Kilty is injured.
Reece Prescod has run 9.93 this year, to make him and Zharnel Hughes clear favourities. In the semis, both, plus Miguel Francis had gone sub-10 but with a wind of +4/5.
Before the final race proper started, Ojie Edoburun had false-started and departed.
The outcome was – wind +2.5 –
1 Jeremiah Azu 9.90
2 Reece Prescod 9.94
3 Zharnel Hughes 9.97
All three were positive in their comments afterward:
Azu: “The last few weeks haven’t been great in terms of preparation for the Champs. However, I got through it and my family and coaches are here and I couldn’t do it without them. In the semi-final, I lost some forward momentum and I knew I had to get that second step right today in the final and I got out of the blocks extremely well. By the time I hit the 80m mark, I felt really relaxed and knew I was in the lead and I dipped for my life. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it”.
Prescod: “I am very happy, a personal best this season and now I have qualified for the worlds so now I have to go and do well there. I am very prepared for the big season. Trials is all about qualifying and now it is time to go again”.
Hughes: “I am happy to walk away with a medal around my neck this time. I was nervous and knew I hadn’t moved but still, I thought ‘no way’ when there was a false start. I am very happy for Azu – he has come up through the ranks and has been running really well. I ran a healthy race and to have run under 10 is good even with the wind”.
British sprinting is looking more positive.