So teamwork really does make the dream work.
Great Britain completed a clean sweep of relay medals as they powered to 4x400m silver and bronze to bring the curtain down on their World Championships in timely style.
After a gold and silver in the sprint relays, the pressure was on the one-lappers and they duly delivered, Emily Diamond anchoring the women to silver while Martyn Rooney secured his third world relay medal on the men’s final leg.
It means the hosts end the championships hitting their six medal target, thanks to five podiums places in the final two days of competition.
The United States finish with a whooping 30 medals, including ten golds, just one shy of their best-ever performance, while distance running powerhouse Kenya sit second – returning to form with 11 medals, including five golds.
British Athletics officials always said these championships were about a team in transition, with the big names of recent years departing the stage and the next generation stepping up.
And those new faces delivered five fourth places, encouraging signs for the future, with the Commonwealth Games and European Championships next year’s targets before the 2019 World Championships in Doha and the Tokyo Olympics.
British Athletics have long invested in the relays and that certainly paid dividends here at the Olympic Stadium.
The women’s quartet were under pressure to deliver, having won five bronze and one silver in the last six editions of these championships.
But they were without long-time taliswoman Christine Ohuruogu, who has instead worked quietly behind the scenes to help the team.
Zoey Clark gave them the perfect start and Laviai Nielsen kept the team in the medal positions before handing to team captain Eilidh Doyle. The 400m hurdler dug deep and Diamond, on the anchor leg, valiantly held off Poland to take silver, with the USA claiming the gold six seconds up the track.
— British Athletics (@BritAthletics) August 13, 2017
“It was surreal. The crowd was even louder than they were yesterday, and I didn’t think that was possible,” said Nielsen.
“We all knew that there was a medal here today, we just needed to run our respective legs as best we could.
“The team is so close and we all knew what we needed to do, so to come out, put it all together and get a medal is beyond my wildest dreams, I can’t describe it.”
There wasn’t quite so much expectation on the men’s relay, with three members of the quartet in their 30s.
But one year on from their disqualification at the Olympics, they made amends when it mattered most.
Matthew Hudson-Smith – who had been told to ‘get his head right’ by Rooney after missing the heats – made a flying start before handing to Dwayne Cowan, 32.
He kept the team in the medals before unloading to Rabah Yousif, 30, who qualified for last year’s Olympics but watched from the sidelines after an untimely injury.
Rooney, 30, then brought the team home, claiming his fourth global relay medal after also winning bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“We watched the sprint relay boys and we were so pumped, we couldn’t wait to get on that track,” said Rooney.
The guys made it really easy for me, they set up so well and my only regret is I didn’t have last year’s form, because I think I’d have gone past them and got a gold.
“I’m still so proud to be part of this team and to deliver this medal. We stood up when it mattered. We discussed stuff after the heats and sorted stuff out between ourselves and this is the result.
“I trust these guys, we knew our ability and I’m pleased we have something to show for it.”
Elsewhere on a second consecutive night of British success, London 2012 bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz finished sixth in the high jump after only clearing 2.25m, while Lynsey Sharp and Chris O’Hare could only finish last in their respective 800m and 1500m finals.
Laura Muir enjoyed a fine finish to her championships, though, with the Scot finishing sixth in the 5000m final – an event she had only previously competed in once outdoors – with compatriot Eilish McColgan coming in tenth.
You can help the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with London 2012 hero Greg Rutherford MBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.
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