In France they call it the médaille en chocolat while in Hungary they prefer the bramborová medaile – or potato medal. Unfortunately for British athletes, the IAAF don’t give prizes for fourth.
Last night Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake narrowly missed out on the podium in the men’s 200m final – the home team’s fourth fourth of these World Championships in London.
After podium near misses for Laura Muir in the 1500m, Kyle Langford in the 800m and Callum Hawkins in the marathon, Great Britain’s athletes needed a boost.
But Mitchell-Blake can hold his head up high after an impressive performance in his first major final, even if he was struggling to accentuate the positive post-race.
You have to go back some way to find the last global 200m final that saw a podium without any Americans or Jamaicans and the times were slow in comparison to recent years.
Turkey’s Tamil Guliyev took gold in 20.09 seconds, narrowly denying South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk’s bid to become the first athlete to complete the 200m and 400m double since Michael Johnson 22 years ago, as he settled for silver.
“I feel like I let the nation down, I know I’m the calibre to get a medal,” said Mitchell-Blake, who clocked 20.24.
“It was a great race with a great calibre of athlete but I wasn’t good enough on the day.
“Coming in I wanted to win. Perhaps I’ll look back on being fourth in the world with pride but I’m just gutted it wasn’t enough for me.
“I feel I belong on this stage. The Olympics taught me a lot of hard lessons but I feel that I prepared for this World Championships.”
Embed from Getty Images
Meanwhile, Katarina Johnson-Thompson was determined not to reflect on what might have been after impressively qualifying for the high jump final.
Johnson-Thompson jumped 1.80m – 18 centimetres down on her personal best – in the heptathlon high jump and finished the competition with 6558 points, in fifth.
But her performance in the individual event, where she jumped 1.92m last night, would have been worth an additional whopping 154 points – and that would have been have been enough for silver in the overall standings.
Johnson-Thompson insists the seven event discipline is still her focus but there is no doubt she is a world-class high jumper.
“It’s not a relief as such but when you fall off the bike you just have to get up and get back on straight away,” said Johnson-Thompson, who will be joined in the final by British team-mate Morgan Lake and Spanish Olympic champion Ruth Beitia.
“I didn’t want to leave the stadium on those terms with the high jump and I’ve proved a point that it was just a freak accident.
“This is always a bonus event for me, I’m still a heptathlete. I’m not doing this to rectify my heptathlon, after Rio I was gutted I wasn’t in the mix for the high jump final.
“I’m happy I had this event to shake me out of that. I’m just in the final and I’m not going to set any targets, I’m just excited to get the chance to compete again.”
Elsewhere, Eilish McColgan produced an impressive personal best to make the 5,000m final alongside Muir, while Jake Wightman and Chris O’Hare progressed to the 1500m semi-finals and team captain Eilidh Doyle finished eighth in the 400m hurdles final.
And while there is plenty of ponder about what might have been at these championships, Dina Asher-Smith is certainly an athlete with a bright future.
Her journey from kit carrier at the London Olympics to 200m world finalist in five years is remarkable.
And earlier this year she fractured her foot while working out in the gym, meaning preparations have been far from ideal, which makes her 22.73 season’s best – meaning she advanced to the final as sixth quickest – something to be proud about.
“I’m so happy, I didn’t expect to make the final,” she said.
“I completely broke my foot so had to have an operation to put two screws in it and wasn’t able to weight-bear for three months.
“I had to completely learn to walk again, and then had to learn to jog and then run under water and then run on the ground and then sprint again, I wouldn’t recommend it!
“That time for me isn’t particularly great, but in the context it is. I’d love to get in the mix a bit, but we’ll see.”
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.
- 10000It had long gone midnight and Usain Bolt was still giving interviews, still signing autographs, still dancing and still playing to the crowd with that trademark pose. He was still smiling too. But never has a fizzing super-charged atmosphere quite so dramatically lost its electricity. Justin Gatlin claimed the blue-riband…