Towards the end of a night in which Britain’s athletes piled up glittering medals on a scale that would have impressed a 1970s disco dancer, Laura Muir began to wonder where it might lead. “He’s amazing and could take over Super Saturday,” he tentatively suggested, before correcting himself. “Well, maybe not quite.”
After Muir won gold in the women’s 1500m, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake celebrated a British 1-2 in the men’s 200m, and Lawrence Okoye won a surprise bronze in the men’s discus, the stage was set for Dina Asher-Smith was back. a fabulous Friday defending his 200m title. But his lack of racing sharpness meant he had to settle for silver behind Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji. Maybe not entirely.
“I definitely came here for the gold,” said Asher-Smith, who insisted her period, which had caused her calves to buckle in Tuesday’s 100m final, had not been a factor important “But sometimes it is what it is.”
Still, it was one hell of a ride. And five medals also represented a hell of a night for Great Britain.
It was no surprise to see Muir start with a dominant performance in the 1500m. Everyone knows her playbook by now, especially in races like this where she is the dominant force. The problem is trying to stop it.
Just before the buzzer, he unleashed a kick that could have come with his own GTI injection to leave almost all of his rivals panting in his slipstream. However, Ireland’s Ciara Mageean did well to stay with her until Muir gritted her teeth again with 150m to go before coming home in 4:01.08. Mageean won silver in a season’s best 4:02.56, with Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui taking bronze.
Now Muir has won world bronze, gold and silver at the Commonwealths and a European title in six crazy weeks. “Physically I’m not too bad, but mentally, my God, that was hard,” he later admitted.
A second British gold quickly followed in the 200m as Hughes held off the challenge of Mitchell-Blake and newcomer Charlie Dobson to come home in 20.07.
“I’m not worried about the times,” said Hughes, who also won silver in the 100 meters on Tuesday. “Coach told me you’re capable of big things. Just trust your speed and hit hard.”
Mitchell-Blake also deserves huge credit, not only for winning silver in 20.17, but also for comforting Dobson after he fell from second to fourth. “I would have loved to share the podium with him,” he said. “He’s got a real dog in him. And I love that man.”
Meanwhile, Dobson tried to take the positives after admitting a stumble could have cost him a medal. “I’ve only run twice over the 200m before coming here, I’ve come back from a pretty big tear in my hamstring and I’m happy to have made it even just to get to the final,” he said. “But it’s bittersweet.”
There was also a bronze for Okoye, who threw a season’s best 67.14m behind Lithuanian teenager Mykolas Alekna, who took gold in a championship record 69.78m. “I can’t lie,” Okoye said. “I am quite proud. It means the world to me.”
Then it was Asher-Smith’s turn, and for the first half of the 200m final she looked almost perfect as she established a good lead at the bend. But then her lack of sharpness told as she finished second in 22.43, almost half a second off her season best at the world championships, and 0.09 behind Kambundji on the night.
“I wanted to win, obviously,” Asher-Smith said. “But at the end of the day, Mujinga ran a great race. She’s fantastic. And she’s very fast. That’s it.”
Elsewhere, Femke Bol added the European 400m hurdles title to her 400m gold medal with another dominant display. But there was also joy for Ukraine’s Viktoriya Tkachuk and Anna Ryzhykova, who won silver and bronze. Soon after, the pocket of Ukrainians celebrated again when Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk took gold in the women’s triple jump with a leap of 15.02m.
Nor was it a surprise to see Norwegian world record holder Karsten Warholm put a season of injury behind him to win gold in the 400m hurdles in a championship record 47.12.
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