23rd August 2009
AVIVA GB & NI FINAL FLING IN BERLIN
23 August 2009
On the final night of action at the IAAF World Championships, the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team had another two medals to cheer as Lisa Dobriskey and the men’s 4x400m squad signed off in style.
With an impressive tally of six medals including two gold, 11 PBs from nine athletes and 20 top eight position finishes it was the teams’ most successful performance since 1993.
In the women’s 1500m final Lisa Dobriskey (Ashford) produced the performance so many people knew she was capable of, when taking the bronze medal after an aggressively run final.
Dobriskey, positioned herself well throughout and at the bell was in fourth, ready to move up the outside as the final 400m beckoned.
Whilst there was drama at the front at 200m to go with Spain’s Natalia Rodriguez and Ethiopian Gelete Burka colliding, Burka coming off worse. Dobriskey managed to avoid the aftermath and sprinted home for the bronze medal in 4:03.75.
However, minutes later there was the dramatic news that Rodriguez had been disqualified and Dobriskey found herself elevated to silver, agonisingly just one –hundredth of a second off gold won by Maryam Yusef Jamal (Bahrain) in 4:03.74.
It was a superb moment for the 1500m talent, whose late start to the season through injury had almost proved a blessing, with Dobriskey looking light footed and race hungry throughout the rounds.
The work undertaken with her coach George Gandy in overcoming various injuries and arriving at the World Championships in the shape of her life demonstrated that the Loughborough based athlete had long been a sleeping giant in the world of middle distance athletics.
And finally, she had achieved a medal and showed the type of self belief that will stand her in good stead for years to come.
“I thought I was going to go down, it was so close to the finish I just thought ‘Don’t screw it up, don’t come fourth, hang onto it, hang onto it’ …in doing so I think the opposite happened to what happened in Beijing,” she revealed after.
“It was such a championship race to be involved in, having come through the rounds it has made me believe that I’m a true championship performer now.
“I just couldn’t finish fourth today, I have driven my family and friends absolutely up the wall playing that DVD (from the Olympics) and with the tears and tantrums. I learnt a lot from last year, George Gandy (coach) and I had a really good chat about not giving people too much respect. I can’t afford to give those girls at the front a 5 or 10m head start because they’re just too quick and just too strong.”
In the men’s 4x400m final, Conrad Williams (Kent), Michael Bingham (unattached), Rob Tobin (Basingstoke & Mid Hants) and Martyn Rooney (Croydon) sprung a surprise on the opposition by taking away the silver medal in a hugely impressive display.
From lane seven, Williams led the charge and passed over to Bingham in a mid pack position. Bingham, although down in fifth at 200m to go powered away strongly on the home straight to ensure he gave Tobin a strong second place to protect, with the American squad clear in first place.
Tobin, who admitted he had gone off too fast in the heats leading to him fading somewhat, had certainly learned his lesson and although he enabled the Australian runner to overtake him on the back straight, was able to sprint past strongly and maintain second when handing over to Rooney for his usual expert anchor leg.
There were no shocks in store, and Rooney protected the position all the way round and crossed the line for silver in 3:00.53 to a joyous reception from his team mates. Who told of their delight soon after:
“I knew what I had to do, I was very comfortable,” said Williams. “I just had to take the Polish out and run my own race, making sure I finished strong to give Michael the best possible chance I could.
Bingham said: “There was a little tussle with either the Polish or the Australian guy, they elbowed me but I knew I had enough kick to just leave them anyway. So I did, handed over to Tobin and he took care of the rest. The times didn’t really show how strong we are as a team- if we had to do it faster we would. I was fortunate enough to be part of a strong enough team that I could take a day off to come back stronger today.”
A delighted Tobin couldn’t keep from smiling as he recalled his personal victory over the Australian runner: “We just beat the Aussies in the Ashes so we had to go out and do it on the track as well. I wanted to stay calm, stay relaxed. We had a good lead and I wanted to keep that. I wanted to come home strong and I gave Rooney the baton in second!”
Finally Rooney reflected upon his first relay medal: “I think that was probably my worst relay leg ever! But we got a medal, that’s all that matters. I’m just used to chasing – I had a clear run which was brilliant, a completely different race.
“So many times I have run sub three minutes and haven’t got a medal- normally I would have had three or four by now- we’ve got a medal now and that’s amazing!
In the men’s 5000m final Mo Farah (Newham & Essex) managed a top-eight finish and showed that his Olympic year disappointment was merely a blip, with a calm and thoughtful performance where he put himself in touch with the leaders at the right time.
He worried the British supporters in the opening laps, after remaining five metres adrift of the group, but it proved to be simply a sensible approach as he climbed up through the group by midway and sat patiently within the pack. As the group entered the final 800m, there were thirteen athletes still in contention.
Through the bell in 12:23, a last lap burn-up took place, and although Farah was well positioned he could not stay the pace, finishing seventh in 13:19.69. The race was won by Kenenisa Bekele in 13:17.09.
Farah described soon after his thoughts throughout the race: “I was thinking I wanted to get rid of people as early as possible, without being boxed in. I feel alright but I couldn’t go with it, I tried to go with it.
“I tried to make the right decision, leading on the outside and carry through but at 300m they started to pull away and I just didn’t have that. Then I came round the bend and they changed gear on the home straight again.
“I’m not disappointed but I was hoping that I would come away with a medal. Looking back I don’t think I could have done anything more, I wanted to give 100 per cent and I did that.”
In the women’s 4x400m final there was a shuffle in the running order, and the squad of Lee McConnell (Shaftesbury Barnet), Christine Ohuruogu (Newham & Essex), Victoria Barr (Rugby) and Nicola Sanders (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) hoped to improve on their qualification as fastest losers from Saturday’s heats.
McConnell on the long stagger of the first leg faded slightly toward the end and although 400m finalist Ohuruogu took over the baton there was already a lot of ground to make up on the USA, Jamaica and Russia.
Ohuruogu passed on to Barr, who held the Brits in fourth position, and then came Sanders with her traditional final leg flurry. Although at this point there was no chance of Sanders making up the thirty-odd metres between GB & NI and the medal positions, she still ate up the ground on the home straight and finished strongly for fourth with 3:25.16.
In reflecting on their performances, Ohuruogu commented: “It would have been nice to have been faster but I lost a bit of time at the changeover. It was tough, we knew it would be hard and be fast and that meant we had to raise our game which we did.”
Barr said: “It was slower than yesterday but I was in no man’s land, all I could see was the Jamaican. I tried to keep going and keep going, but it was hard running because relay is all about tracking and kicking but still I finished quite strongly. I got pushed out of position before Chrissie came in for the baton. So I had no option but to stand there waving my hand like a crazy woman!”
Anchor woman Sanders said: “We did our best, we couldn’t have run faster than that, we ran a season’s best. It was such a weird leg, I was in no man’s land a bit. I knew they weren’t going to catch up with me, it just felt like I went through the motions to finish. At one point I thought, I’m catching them and then I was like ‘they are the three medallists’ and I’ve got 50m to go, it wasn’t really going to happen.”