Saturday, 08 July 2017 09:09

Anniversary Games - Britain's 4x100m Olympic Bronze medalist want to light up the cauldron in London

Written by Connor Craig-Jackson
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After some highly mixed individual seasons for Great Britain’s record breaking relay team, they have built up much needed steam ahead of Sunday’s Anniversary Games.

The event sees three of the Olympic bronze medallists take on the 100m event, which for 200m finalist at the games Dina Asher-Smith, seemed an almost impossible prospect after she injured her foot earlier this year.

“I’ve only been training for three weeks,” says Asher-Smith, “everybody said ‘you’ve broken your foot, you’re not going to be able to run at all for 2017’, but I just thought ‘I can’t let that happen’.

“I know the times for me (at the British Championships) were not good and the races have been rusty but I really don’t mind because when you have a really big injury it puts everything into perspective and it really makes you scared especially with me finishing Uni as well.

“At the moment I’m just opening up and trying to get some races in before I go into the ‘fire’ that is the London Anniversary Games. So hopefully it’ll be good enough to stand me in stead for some sort of selection for the worlds even if it is just the relay.”

The Olympic 200m finalist will also be joined in the Anniversary Games 100m by relay team-mates Asha Philip and Daryll Neita, who finished first and second at the World trials.

Philip herself has had a mixed season up until the World Trials with the “pressure” of the competition bringing out her best performance of the season, as it has done elsewhere this year during her British and European Indoor wins.

The four-time national outdoor champion has also had her fair share of past injury concerns which famously saw her miss out on 2012 Olympics as a 22-year-old, which has seen her express full support for Asher-Smith despite not being in regular close contact with her.

“She (Dina) is a bit younger than me so I’m not really in her circle if that makes sense,” says Philip, “so it’s a bit of a shame that we’ve never really had that bond but I think our relay medal is a bond that we can keep for the rest of our lives.

“I’m obviously going to care for her because if anybody has an injury I know how it feels. So I’m always there to pick people up anyway and if she performs for the rest of this season and goes to the World Championships then I would love to be there and sort of be her shoulder not to lean on but to give her a good boost to help her perform well.”

For 20-year-old Daryll Neita, a trip to the Olympic Stadium is always a special one, having a strong personal connection with the venue which is very local to her and often part of her daily routine.

“It’s going to be amazing,” says Neita, “I drive past the stadium every day on my way to training and it’s 20 minutes from my house so competing there at the World Championships is something I’ve been dreaming about for my whole life really.”

With both Philip and Neita both guaranteed for an individual event at the World Championships, Sunday presents a vital piece of pre-worlds preparation against the likes of Olympic and World medallists Dafne Schippers and Elaine Thompson.

Neita in particular will hope this gives her the chance to build up considerable momentum, with an early Olympic exit in the 100m heats giving her “unfinished business” in London.

For Asher-Smith however, the day could prove to be a decisive moment in her fast fading race against time to secure her dream individual race at the world championships, which she is determined to not let slip.

“I don’t want to go just for the relay,” says Asher-Smith, “as much as I still want to do the relay and want to be a part of it I still really want to do an individual event because it’s what I’ve worked towards for the best part of five years.”

All that remains now is for the athletes to give it their all in front of a once again packed Olympic Stadium, with the cauldron of noise able to provide plenty of ‘fire’ for the athletes to move one step closer to their individual world championship dreams.



Dina Asher-Smith

“Everybody said, you’ve broken your , you’re not going to be able to run at all for 2017 but I just though ‘I can’t let that happen’ because it’s the world championships and not I’m just so happy because I know the times for me were not good and the races have been rusty but I really don’t mind because when you have a rally big injury it puts everything into perspective and it really makes you scared especially with me finishing Uni as well.”

“Yes I could have run better, I’ve been running better in training for the two weeks worth of sprint sessions I had.

“At the moment I’m just opening up and trying to get some races in before I go into the fire that is the London Anniversary Games. So hopefully it’ll be good enough to stand me in stead for some sort of selection even if it’s just the relay.

“But as much as I still want to do the relay and want to be a part of it I still really want to do an individual event because it’s what I’ve worked towards for the best part of five years.”

Daryll Neita:

“After Rio last year we know as a team that we’re stronger and we can come out with medals so I’m more than happy to be in the relay team and even more excited to really execute in London this year, unlike in Rio, I feel like I’ve got unfinished business.”

“It’s going to be amazing I drive past the stadium every day on my way to training and it’s 20 minutes from my house so it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for my whole life really.”

“I’m not sure yet, I am in the race but me and my coach are still deciding on what I’m actually going to be doing until that point so hopefully I’ll be there but I’m not sure yet, because I’ve got the Under 23 championships to think about.”

Asha Philip:

“I feel like I need to be put under a lot of pressure.”

“Part of me wants to go and part of me doesn’t because I’m going to be scared; that crowd is so loud and I’d love to perform there. I didn’t get that chance in 2012, I have had it at a few Anniversary Games, doing well in the relay though meant so much, but as an individual.”

“We can definitely medal again, all these girls are talented and I would never knock them off. Obviously we didn’t get the baton round at the European Team Champs but these girls are capable of performing under pressure and they can do well, so I’ve got all my faith in them and I know what they can do.”

“She’s a bit younger than me so I’m not really in her circle if that makes sense,” says Philip, “so it’s a bit of a shame that I’ve never really had that bond but I think our relay medal is a bond that we can keep for the rest of our lives.”

“I’m obviously going to care for her because if anybody has an injury I know how it feels. So I’m always there to pick people up anyway and if she performs for the rest of this season and goes to the World Championships then I would love to be there and sort of be her shoulder not to lean on but to give her a good boost help her perform well.”

Playlist of races from British Athletics Championships 2017



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