Athletics: is Team GB good enough?
For too long, Britain was a nation of “incorrigible baton-droppers”, said Oliver Brown in The Sunday Telegraph. But at the World Athletics Championships last Saturday, the men’s 4x100m relay team “restored national pride”, gatecrashing Usain Bolt’s final competitive race to win gold. It was hardly a “showpiece send-off” for the Jamaican, who tumbled to the floor with cramp. But even if he had been without injury, it is unlikely his team could have caught up with Team GB: their time of 37.47 seconds was the fastest in the world this year. To cap “an unforgettable evening for relays”, the women’s 4x100m team took an “unlikely silver”. Then on Sunday, in the 4x400m, the women’s team took silver, and the men bronze. Since 2012, British Athletics has invested heavily in relays, on the grounds that they are less competitive than individual races. Last weekend, that strategy more than paid off. Team GB didn’t fare as well in the solo events, however, said Andrew Longmore in The Sunday Times. The only individual medals went to Mo Farah: he won the 10,000m, but finished second in the 5,000m last Saturday. Racing for the final time before he swaps distance running for marathons, it was not the “last hurrah” Farah had hoped for: at 34, he couldn’t find the speed that had turned his “every race at the World Championships or the Olympics for six years into thrilling victory”. And to Farah’s great frustration, he is bowing out amid “suspicion” over his successes, said Andy Bull in The Guardian. There are questions over the two drug tests that he missed in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics. More troubling still is his relationship with his coach, Alberto Salazar, who is under investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency. When Farah was in his mid-20s – the age at which distance runners tend to peak – he was a middling athlete; it was only after he started working with Salazar that he achieved his best times, at the unusually late age of 28. “Hard as this is for Farah’s many fans to hear, his career invites scrutiny.” Still, Team GB can ill afford to lose another of its stars, said Rick Broadbent in The Times. Just four people – Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and Christine Ohuruogu – have produced 19 of Britain’s last 22 gold medals at global championships. But EnnisHill and Farah have now retired from the track, with Ohuruogu soon to follow, while Rutherford is injured. Meanwhile, no young talents are ready to take their places – and the likes of Laura Muir, who came fourth in the 1,500m, and Katarina JohnsonThompson, who finished fifth in the heptathlon, are failing to fulfil their potential. British athletes will need to “get better”.
Britain’s 4x100m winners