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DAY TWO AT THE IAAF WORLD RELAYS

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World Relays
23 April 2017


It was 4x400m finals night on Day Two at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, which saw the British Athletics women’s team drop a massive five seconds on their time from the heat just 24-hours earlier to finish fourth in the world, with the men’s team coming home in sixth place.

The women’s 4x400m selections continued with the team wide philosophy of trying out new combinations ahead of the London 2017 World Championships, with Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) moving from third leg in the heats to starter in the final and Laviai Nielsen (Frank Adams) making her senior relay team debut on leg two.  Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold) moved from leg one to leg three and Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu came in to anchor the team home.

“I really enjoyed moving to leg one” said Emily Diamond.  “I just got into the zone of 400m racing and I actually quite enjoyed it.  I just tried to run the best leg I could to set up the girls.  It was nice having the Australians outside me, because they’ve just come off their season and are in good shape, so I just latched onto her and just tried to overtake her to set up Laviai.”

Of her first outing Nielsen said “It felt amazing to be out there, I watched it yesterday from inside the stadium and I just couldn’t wait to get on the track.  Emily set out well and I just didn’t want to lose that second place.  There was a scrap behind me and I got hit by a baton, so that was a new experience.”

“I’m not as used to the third leg as I am the first, so it was interesting having someone right alongside me for the whole lap” said Eilidh Doyle, who simply refused to be passed during a lap long battle with Jamaica for second place.  “I just wanted to make it hard for her on the straight and if she wants to go past me she’ll have to work hard and do it on the bend.  I feel much better than I did yesterday and getting that first run in my legs has helped me run a bit better today.”

Christine Ohuruogu said it was “a tough race.  I knew most teams were going to load the anchor leg and they did, but I just wanted to get one run out and I gave as good as I could.  The girls did such a brilliant job, dropping 5 seconds in one day, and I think we can be excited about the team going into London.  Laviai dropped in, I dropped in so it shows what a good squad we have going forward.”

The quartet clocked a time of 3:28.72, to finish fourth behind the United States, Poland and Jamaica.

After Martyn Rooney (thigh) and Rabah Yousif (muscle tightness) picked up minor niggles in training, the Men’s 4x400m line-up remained the same as in the heats, where they beat the Bahamas (Olympic bronze medallists from Rio) and Belgium (2016 European Champions) to qualify for the final.

Led out by 22-year-old Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) said “It felt like an OK run, and there’s obviously a lot more to come as we are only in April.  I just wanted to get the team into a good position and just try to get us as far forward as possible.”

Delano Williams (Neil Harrison), who aims to secure leg two as his own ahead of London 2017, said: “That was a hard run, we were held for a long time in the warm-up area. I found it hard to recover from yesterday and today was just a learning curve. Come London I’m telling you the guys will be ready and I will be ready.”

Taking on more responsibility as a leader of the team in the absence of Rooney and Yousif, Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) said “Many of those guys have run three or four times already this season, this was our second race with yesterday our first, so it shows where we are.  We are not trying to peak in April we are planning to peak in August in London.  When we bring guys like Martyn and Rabah back into the team and we are all running faster, we’ll be pushing for the top of the podium I have no doubt about that.”

Theo Campbell (James Hillier), who made his senior British Athletics team in the heats, said: “I have a problem with my back and thought I may not even run today, so I’m grateful to the medics for getting me out there.  This was a good experience for me and massive learning curve for me. I definitely know I can run a lot faster than that and hope this is the first of many senior teams.”

The team finished in sixth place, clocking 3:05.63. 

Stephen Maguire, Head of Sprints at British Athletics, said: “It would have been great for both teams to medal tonight, and the women were very close, but it’s our first run of the season and we’re looking for our teams to peak in London this August, not now.  Given the minor injuries to Rabah and Martyn, I think the boys put in a solid performance.  To drop five seconds in 24-hours shows what strength we have in the women’s squad.  We always said this event was about developing the squads towards London. After what we have seen tonight and in training all this week, I’m confident both these 4x400 teams will be very strong contenders for a place on the World Championship podium in August.”

Reflecting on last night’s 4x100m relay team Maguire added: “People will look at the winning time in 4x100m final and say ‘Why change the team from the heats?’, but we’ve been very clear that we were using this competition as preparation for the World Championships in London.  We tried out some different combinations against the world’s best relay teams and got some very useful information.

“We fielded a strong team in the Heats so we would be assured of making the final and we could also see how the combinations in that quartet fared.  I was always going to change things around for the final, even if we had broken the British record in the Heats, because we couldn’t leave it until London to test out someone like Ojie Edoburun (who has only run one leg for the British team at the Anniversary Games last year).  You simply can’t replicate the pressure of competition in practice and we need to go into London 2017 as the best prepared team in the world.

“I’m very pleased with the performances from the combinations we tried.  We tried five brand new combinations out of a possible six across the two heats – with Zharnel making his relay team debut and changing with CJ twice.  Whilst our final baton change failed, due to an early take off from the checkmark, the team for the Final was already one tenth up on our strike four from the Heats.  We can definitely take a lot of positives from this competition.”