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Can Britain’s sprinters challenge Jamaica?

Can Britain’s sprinters challenge Jamaica?

Posted by Shanelle Weir on May 28, 2014

Britain’s sprinters can challenge Jamaica for championship medals, according to the British Athletics coach Rana Reider, who believes GB’s short-track specialists did not show their true potential at the IAAF World Relays.

Reider, the tough-talking American brought in by British Athletics after London 2012, was disappointed with the performances in Nassau despite two podium finishes. Britain’s 4x200m women won silver and the 4x100m men finished third.

The inaugural relay championships came a week after Richard Kilty, who ran the first leg of the 4x100m, revealed that there was a divide in the camp between the sprinters coached by Reider and those under the tutelage of Steve Fudge.

Kilty, James Ellington, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Dwain Chambers clocked a final time of 38.19sec behind Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, with the USA failing to qualify. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake ran the final leg and secured a comfortable victory in 37.77secs, while the island’s men set a new 4x200m world record on Saturday.

However, if Britain had repeated their national record performance of the heat then they would have finished second and Reider says they must improve if they are going to medal at major championships.

Asked if GB could challenge Jamaica, he said: “I think we can, yes. We have the talent. We still have a few kinks to get out but we’ve shown for the most part that we can get it done.”

On the performance of the 4x100m men in the Bahamas, he added: “I don’t play to get second or third. That’s not why we came here. We came to try and win, to show the Jamaicans that we can run with them and, you know, 85% of what we did we showed we can run but the other 15%, we can’t afford to give it up to guys that run 9.7, 9.8.”

Britain’s men have flunked in the 4x100m at the last five major championships and there was a sense of relief within the sprinters that they did not drop the baton again. Chambers said: “We have gone through a lot of hardships with the relays and trying to push for perfection. But today we kept it simple and said ‘look guys lets just get the baton round’ and that approach worked well for us.”

Britain’s 4x200m women impressed and were only beaten by USA in their final. Desiree Henry, Anyika Onuora, Bianca Williams and Asha Philip clocked a time of 1min 29.61secs, a national record. The 4x400m women could only manage seventh in their final while the 4x400m men finished fourth.

The British Athletics performance director, Neil Black, revealed last week that the sprinters held a clear-the-air meeting in Loughborough following an incident earlier in the year at the UK Indoor Trials, with some reports claiming that James Dasaolu and Ellington almost came to blows. This was denied, and Reider claimed that there was healthy competition between his camp and Dasaolu and Adam Gemili, who are both coached by Fudge.

“They’re sprinters and they’re all trying to get paid. It’s a professional sport so rivalries are good,” he said.

Aikines-Aryeetey added: “There is a rivalry, but there is nothing more than that. So everyone gets on, everyone wants to run well, everyone wants to represent their country and do their best. There has never been any problem [with Dasaolu and Gemili coming in]. As long as everyone practises.”

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