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Hudson-Smith 8th in world record Final

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Matthew Hudson-Smith

14 August 2016

Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) finished eighth in his first Olympic final, a race where history was made as South African Wayde Van Niekerk broke the 400m world record.

Hudson-Smith ran a massive personal best of 44.48 in the semi-final last night, and at just 20 years of age did so well to make the final. Despite finishing in eighth place, the British Champion ran 44.61, the second fastest performance of his young career.

Of being part of the greatest 400m race in history, the youngster said:

“That was mental when you think how quick it was and to be part of that….

“I’m slowly pulling it together for the second year in the really important meetings. Training has been going well; I haven’t really raced much this year so I haven’t been able to get the consistency like these guys running 44 seconds back to back. It’s coming - I just need to race now.

“I thought I was going well on the back straight and then I got to 250m and it was going up another gear. I got to about 150m to go and I tried to kick but it wasn’t really happening. It’s positive and now I go on to the relay and see what we can achieve.”

Both Laura Muir (Andy Young) and Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) ran smart races to advance to the women’s 1500m final, which takes place on Tuesday evening.

A brave run by Laura Weightman saw her though in the first semi-final, but she had to fight every step of the way. After the pace slowed just 200m into the race, Weightman decided to assert herself by taking up the running. She made the pace honest and led all the way to the bell, when Kenyan winner Faith Kipyegon took the lead.

With blood streaming down her shin after being spiked, Weightman fought all the way to the line to hold off the challenge of Ennaoui and Arafi for that final fifth qualifying spot.

After her 4.05.28 run, the London 2012 finalist said:

“I’m so happy with that. I was so nervous and I didn’t think I would make the final, but I have. I’m pleased I took it on and took the chance, and I’m so happy to have made that final.”

Going in the second race Muir looked full of confidence after breaking Kelly Holmes’ British record last month, advancing to the final in third place. World champion Genzebe Dibaba hit the front at the bell and proceeded to run a 57 second last lap, but Muir was more than equal, following her and Hassan until 50 metres to go, when she eased down to cross the line in 4.04.16.

“I just wanted to qualify for the final – you always speak about an Olympic final but it’s just an achievement to get there. I’m really chuffed. I tried to save as much energy as possible. I knew I wanted to stay at the back at the start and stay out of harm’s way and then come through and be at the front before anything happened.

“I expected Hassan and Dibaba to be at the back and come through and I just followed them, so pretty much perfect. Me and my coach have watched these athletes enough, I’ve raced them week in week out, so you know what they’re going to do a lot of the time. It didn’t faze me at all, I just knew not to burn up too much energy chasing them and just to make sure I qualified.”

Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Caan) cleared 2.29m at the first time of asking to advance to the men’s high jump final. After a bronze medal at London 2012, Grabarz is producing his best form since 2012 this year. Coming in at 2.22m, Grabarz had one failure at 2.26m, but otherwise a clean slate as progressed to Tuesday’s final.

“That was really good – I came with the aim of making the final and I’ve achieved it so I’m really chuffed. The track is a wonderful track to jump from so makes it all the better for a good final.

“It generally takes that long so you come ready and waiting for it to happen. It’s going to be really tough and everyone in the final is going to want a medal and it just comes down to who is going to perform on the day.”

In the other pool, Chris Baker (Sharon Heveran) cleared 2.26m with his first attempt but 2.29m proved too much on the night, meaning he just misses out on a place in the final at his first Olympic Games.

It was a case of so close but yet so far for Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) as he missed out on spot in the men’s 100m final by two thousandths of a second. Drawn in semi-final two in the lane next to Usain Bolt, the youngster ran a great race to cross the line in a season’s best 10.01 (+0.2). It looked like he might have finished third behind Bolt and Andre de Grasse, but a photo finish showed  that American Trayvon Bromell had pipped him on the line, running the same time.

In the end that meant Bromell took up the final fastest losers spot in the final, much to the disappointment of Ujah who said post-race:

“It’s a lesson I’ve learnt myself - run through the line. I always dip but I didn’t really dip this time, so, when it mattered I didn’t really dip. But I ran my best race of the season so far and I’ve done it at the Olympic Games in a semi-final.

“I’m really disappointed but I’m going to take all of this and build on it forward for 2017 and hopefully I can be on the podium then and make the final for my country.

“I felt so at home – so relaxed. The crowd was going, I loved it – I loved every minute, I was more nervous yesterday as its more about getting the cobwebs out. But for me I just wanted to step up and make the final but unfortunately I was just a bit short.”

In the final semi-final, James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) got a good start, but couldn’t quite live with the sub-10 second pace, finishing sixth in 10.16 (0.0).

“I thought I got a good start and I got up full of running and as an athlete at The Games you want to give it all you’ve got and leave nothing on the track. 

“I’d have loved to go sub-10 again but it wasn’t to be. I’ve now got the relay to look forward to at the end of the champs and that’s where my individual aspirations about being at the Olympics now go.”

There was no place in the women’s 400m final for former Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) or British champion Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon), as they finished fifthand sixth in their respective semi-finals.

Up first was Ohuruogu, running outside all of her rivals in lane seven. Although the British record holder did close the gap down the home straight, there remained too much to do. Of her 51.22 run for fifth, Ohuruogu said:

“To give these girls credit they’ve been running well all year and I’ve struggled to get into any kind of gear that could be able to compete with them. I thought after yesterday the old Christine is back, but I think she only paid a fleeting visit – she’s gone!

“I have to be really honest - I know I’m a championship performer but it only works when I work and I’ve got everything in my legs. It’s been a tough year as I’ve had so many distractions and aggravations and it does take its toll. Throughout the middle of the year I got really burnt out. I was trying too hard which was a problem, especially with all the volume we have to do. It’s hard to get the balance right – I’ve got 12 years of running in my legs, so I can’t train as I was  ten years ago.”

Diamond was up next in the second of three semis, facing the opposite challenge to Ohuruogu as she was drawn in lane one. Running a strong race, the 25 year old pushed hard round the final bend to put herself in the mix, but she couldn’t quite challenge for the top two automatic qualifying spots.                

Of her sixth place finish in 51.49, the second fastest time of her career, Diamond commented:

“I’m really happy - I didn’t expect to run sub 52 this week after all I’ve been through, but to run sub 51.50 from lane one, I have to be happy.

“Yesterday I felt pretty horrendous, I was in tears in warm up not knowing if I was going to make it out onto the track.  Today I’m better but I’m still not perfect.  I’ve been eating more but still not as much as I would have liked to, but I managed to run and I’ve reached an Olympic semi-final.

“It’s kind of bitter sweet. I'm in sub 51 shape. The training out in Belo was showing that. But I have run in an Olympic semi-final now and not everyone can say that.”