Towards the end of a night where British athletes accumulated shiny medals on a scale that would have impressed a 70s disco dancer, Laura Muir began to wonder where it might lead. “It’s amazing and it could take over Super Saturday,” she tentatively suggested, before correcting herself. “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 to round off a fabulous Friday by defending her 200m title. But her lack of race sharpness told as she had to settle for silver behind Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji. Maybe not quite indeed.
“I definitely came here for the gold,” said Asher-Smith, who insisted that her period, which had caused her calves to cramp in Tuesday’s 100m final, had not been a factor. “But sometimes it is what it is.”
Still, it was a hell of a ride. And five medals also represented a hell of a night for Britain.
It was no surprise to see Muir kick things off with a dominant performance in the 1500m. By now everyone knows her playbook, especially in races like this where she is the dominant force. The trouble is, trying to stop it.
Just before the bell she unleashed a kick that could have come with its own GTI injection to leave nearly all her rivals gasping in her slipstream. However Ireland’s Ciara Mageean did mightily well to stick with her until Muir gritted her teeth again with 150m remaining before flying home in 4:01.08. Mageean took silver in a season’s best 4:02.56, with Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui grabbing bronze.
Muir has now won world bronze, gold and silver in the Commonwealths and a European title in a crazy six weeks. “Physically I’m not too bad but mentally oh my god that was hard,” she admitted afterwards.
A second British gold quickly followed in the 200m as Hughes held off the challenge of Mitchell-Blake and the newcomer Charlie Dobson to come home in 20.07.
“I don’t worry about the times,” said Hughes, who also took silver in the 100m on Tuesday. “Coach told me you’re capable of doing great things. Just trust your speed and just do damage.”
Mitchell-Blake also deserves huge credit – not only for winning silver in 20.17 but also for comforting Dobson after he slipped 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 may have cost him a medal. “I’ve only raced twice over the 200m before coming here, I’ve come back from a pretty big hamstring tear, and I’m happy I 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 in coming behind the Lithuanian teenager Mykolas Alekna, who claimed gold in a championship record 69.78m. “I can’t lie,” said Okoye. “I’m pretty 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 foot perfect as she established a healthy lead at the bend. But then her lack of sharpness told as she tailed off to finish second in 22.43 – nearly half a second off her season’s best at the world championships – and 0.09 behind Kambundji on the night.
“I wanted to win, obviously,” said Asher-Smith. “But at the end of the day, Mujinga put together a great race. She’s fantastic. And she’s very fast. That’s that.”
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 afterwards the pocket of Ukrainians celebrated again as Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk claimed the women’s triple jump gold with a leap of 15.02m.
It was also no surprise to see the Norwegian world record holder Karsten Warholm put a season of injuries behind him to win 400m hurdles gold in a championship record 47.12.