British sprinters rule Europe – can they challenge Jamaica?

Aug 18, 2014

Can the likes of Adam Gemili and Jodie Williams take the next step up and 'go global'?


Team GB finished top of the medals table at the European Championships in Zurich and another gold-rush on the final day of competition secured a record haul of 23 medals, 12 of them gold.

There were eight more medals on Sunday, as Mo Farah added the 5,000m title to the 10,000m he won earlier in the week, and Greg Rutherford won the long jump, recording the three best jumps in the competition. The men and women's 4x100m relay teams won gold as did the men's 4x400 team.

"If a 'Super Saturday' at the London Olympics represented a gala evening performance, then this Sunday was its matinee equivalent," says Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph.

Afterwards UK Athletics performance director Neil Black hailed his athletes' showing. "This was a critical phrase in the process through to Rio and they've grabbed it. We are going global from here onwards," he said.

But despite the success Black and his charges still have their "feet... clamped firmly on fast-shifting ground", says Sean Ingle in The Guardian. "Triumphalism has been tinged with realism. They know the world championships in Beijing next year and the Rio Olympics in 2016 are not just a step but a whole flight of stairs up."

But he adds that it is "particularly encouraging... that so many youngsters are blasting through together".

Britain's sprinters were particularly impressive, winning five medals at the championships, including golds for James Dasaolu and Adam Gemili in the men's 100m and 200m. Jodie Williams, meanwhile, ran the fastest 200m by a British woman since 1984 as she claimed silver.

"Can this continental promise translate to the world stage?" asks Tom Fordyce of the BBC. "And why are so many wise judges more excited about this generation than they have been in many years?" 

The belief of the athletes and new and improved coaching methods augur well for the future, he explains. "There is a significant gap. But these British athletes have time." It all "points to the summer of 2014 as the start of something, not the pinnacle".

The performance of the woman stood out, says Brown of the Telegraph. "It strengthened a sense that in our sprinting as well as our distance-running, a sphere that continues to orbit around that man Farah, we have never had it so good."

The Daily Mail is struck by Gemili's desire to use this summer's success as a "platform to compete with the Americans and the Jamaicans". Britain's "new generation of sprint stars are gunning for the Jamaican and American teams who dominate on the world stage", it says.

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