A week after soaring to scarcely imagined heights at the world championships many of Britain’s top sprinters came tumbling back down to reality at the Birmingham grand prix on Sunday.
Poor Adam Gemili, who ran a storming second leg as Britain’s 4x100m men’s relay team took gold, felt it hardest as he was controversially false started in the 100m. Meanwhile his relay team‑mates Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Danny Talbot faded to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 200m. With Dina Asher-Smith, who inspired the women’s 4x100m team to silver, also coming fifth in a high-quality women’s 100m final, it was left to CJ Ujah to fly the flag highest for British sprinting by winning the men’s 100m in 10.08sec.
Inevitably, however, the eyes were drawn to Gemili’s pained expression as he was disqualified from what he intended to be his redemption race after an injury-hit season. “Honestly I didn’t feel like I false started,” he said afterwards. “It’s the first time in my career that’s ever happened to me. I just feel like I’ve let so many people down. It’s just absolutely gutting.
“I know I’m in great shape but I haven’t had an individual race since the world championships to prove it. I know it’s only the grand prix – it’s not the world champs – but it feels the same for me. This was my redemption race to show everyone that I am in good shape and back running fast. I just want to say sorry.”
Gemili does not have the best of luck here – two years ago he was taken off the track on a stretcher after ripping his hamstring while blasting under 10 seconds for the 100m for the first time, while he hobbled along the home straight during the UK trials in July and ended up missing out on the individual 100m and 200m at the world championships due to the hamstring injury that had blighted much of his season.
Ujah, however, was in much more optimistic mood after beating James Dasaolu by 0.03, with Zharnel Hughes third a further 0.02 back. “I was optimistic coming into this race and you can see my current mind-set in my result,” he said. “I am very confident at the moment.”
Mitchell-Blake, meanwhile, admitted he had to learn the lessons from his disappointing fifth in the 200m in a modest 20.46sec, behind the world champion Ramil Guliyev, who ran 20.17. “That was a brutal race,” Mitchell-Blake said. “Obviously the time wasn’t that pleasing but I just have to learn from it going forward. It has been a lot physically but a lot emotionally too to recover from the world championships.”
In the women’s 100m Elaine Thompson looked back to her best after a strangely subdued performance at the world championships as she won in 10.93sec. Marie-Josée Ta Lou was second in 10.97 with Asher-Smith fifth in 11.21. “I had to bounce back first time after a disappointing world championships but the time is nothing to get excited about,” Thompson said. There was better news for British athletes in the men’s 400m as Dwayne Cowan won a weak race in a personal best of 45.39sec. “I’m pleased to set a PB but maybe I could have run 44 something,” he said.