This is part two of Stuart Weir’s interview with Darryl Neita, who had a summer of competing on the world stage, although the season did not go the way that Darryl Neita had planned. Stuart Weir is the senior writer for RunBlogRun on European Athletics. Darryl Neita continues to
“The year of the 100th”
Darryl Neita has named 2022 “the year of the 100th”. She explains: “I didn’t qualify for the Worlds in the 200m by one 100th. I ran 10.90 as a PR, but 10.89 would have been lovely! One 100th away from the final in Oregon. And in Munich, one 100th away from the gold”.
Darryl’s performance at the World Champs in Oregon was a bitter-sweet experience. She ran 10.95 in the heat and 10.97in the semi and missed out on the final by that pesky 100th. Her comments reflect the good and the bad at that moment. “Eugene was horrible, heartbreaking. But it shows how far I’ve come. I remember the days when I was trying to break 11.2 so running sub 11 is always a good achievement. I think being able consistently to run sub 11 is huge. A dream for so many people. To be in the 10-second club (sub 11 club), – because it really feels like a private members’ club because not everyone can do it – is great. I wouldn’t call 10.95/10.97 a disappointment, but I always feel that I’m capable of more”.
In the Commonwealth Games, she ran a 10.90 PR in the semi-final and then 11.07 in the final. “Hugely disappointing” is her initial reaction, but she also accepts that she was “happy with the Commonwealth Games but with an element of disappointment” because there was “an amazing opportunity for me to bring the gold home in front of a home crowd”.
Her brutally honest assessment continues: “I ran a PR in the semi-final and felt fantastic going into the final. Honestly, on that occasion, I feel I messed up in the final. It takes me a while to face my errors sometimes. I’m very good at analyzing and taking responsibility. And I was in the final, and I could have gotten the gold, but I messed up. I feel like I choked, and I have never choked before. That taught me a lot going into the European championship”.
In the European Championships in Munich, there was the same déjà vu; she ran 10.95 in the semis and then 11.00 in the final to finish third – that pesky one hundredth from the gold again. But there was a physical reason, as she explains: “Munich was disappointing because I was definitely feeling fantastic. I ran great in the semi-final. I was in the call room and came out to the track, and then my whole body started to cramp. I had never experienced that before, and I remember setting up my blocks, and my legs, hamstrings, and glutes were locking up. At that moment, I was thinking, ‘I actually don’t want to run right now.”
She decided to run, feeling that even if she pulled a muscle, it was the end of the season. She continues: “I decided just to roll the dice and see what happened. I was surprised even to make it to the finish line because I felt I would probably pull up after 5m. I know how it might have looked from the outside, but for me personally, I know what I was going through. The situation is what it is, but I won’t experience cramp like that again.”
She also wondered if she has tried to do too much. The final in Munich was, after all, her 29th race of the season. “I think that really it showed how much I had pushed my body. I had done the three championships. I was the only one to do the Monaco Diamond League a couple of days before Munich. I had raced so much this year, but that was really about my coach and me and looking at my capacity. We’re really building for the future. I know if might have looked like we were using all our bullets this year, but we were really planning for the years to come. This was about finding my weaknesses and knowing when enough was enough. And my body actually started to say, ‘oh, that’s enough now. And we saw some people’s bodies give up a lot sooner.
So that means I’m pretty strong. But that final push for the European final was just a bit too much for my body. So I flew home the next day, didn’t run the relay, and recovered. I didn’t do damage, and I needed to recover for a couple of weeks”.