‘Heart­bro­ken’ Gemili misses out again

Sprinter is ag­o­nis­ingly short of medal in 200m Lyles wins but Bri­ton says gold in Tokyo is re­al­is­tic

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - World Athletics Championsh­ips - By Oliver Brown in Doha

Adam Gemili could be for­given for feel­ing cursed on the global stage. For three years, he has been con­sumed by an ob­ses­sion to win a ma­jor cham­pi­onship medal, af­ter miss­ing out on Olympic bronze by just three thou­sandths of a se­cond.

Here in this 200me­tres duel in the desert, he again fell ag­o­nis­ingly short, squeezed out of the podium places by a mere five hun­dredths in fourth as the ir­re­sistible Noah Lyles took gold. For an ath­lete al­most masochis­tic in us­ing fail­ure as his in­spi­ra­tion, it was a chas­ten­ing evening.

He was in tears as he made his way through the in­ter­view area, need­ing to be con­soled by his mother, Sacha. Gemili could hardly be faulted in how he judged his race, match­ing his sea­son’s best of 20.03sec, but the com­pe­ti­tion – in the form of Lyles, Canada’s An­dre De Grasse and fast-ris­ing Ecuadorean Alex Quinonez – was sim­ply too fierce. He keeps a doc­u­ment on his phone list­ing all his de­trac­tors’ most sting­ing re­bukes, and had sug­gested he would dis­close the con­tents if he achieved his goal of a maiden in­di­vid­ual medal at a ma­jor cham­pi­onships. Alas, the dossier will have to be up­dated a while longer.

True to form, Gemili was sting­ing in his self-re­proach, af­ter be­ing over­hauled by Quinonez only a few strides from the line. “I ran like an am­a­teur,” he said. “I am gut­ted, as I had it but lost my bal­ance. I had noth­ing left at the end, but all my form went out of the win­dow. I can­not be­lieve it. I came so close, as this was such a good chance. My body feels good and I ran well through the heats, but I let it go. It’s the same, if not worse, than the feel­ing in Rio.

“I’m sorry, be­cause I feel I have let down so many peo­ple. So many sent me mes­sages, and the team know I have been plagued with in­juries. Not to break 20 se­conds is heart­break­ing. I had the medal and it slipped out of my hands. Ul­ti­mately, I have to take the pos­i­tives. I had been la­belled a re­lay run­ner, I had been writ­ten off. At those times you need a tight-knit group of peo­ple around you. It hasn’t hap­pened here, but it has re­lit some­thing in­side me. If I go to Tokyo for the Olympics, it’s winnable.”

Lyles might rea­son­ably take is­sue with that ver­dict. The Amer­i­can, who rounded off a su­perla­tive year with his first world ti­tle, has al­ready run 19.50sec this sea­son, over four tenths faster than Gemili has man­aged in his life.

“So many times I thought in my brain that I would be world cham­pion this year,” said Lyles, 22. “I have it on my phone, I have been say­ing it since the sea­son started. Ev­ery day I’ve been hit­ting my car win­dow on the way back from prac­tice as the mu­sic blasted out. This is my first one, and I don’t know a lot of peo­ple who can say they came to their first worlds and grabbed gold.”

The evening’s most eye-catch­ing per­for­mance be­longed to Don­a­van Bra­zier, who streaked away from his pur­suers in the 800m to win in a time of 1min 42.34sec, an Amer­i­can record and the fastest time set at a World Cham­pi­onships.

The one in­con­ve­nient de­tail was that the 22-year-old’s coach, Al­berto Salazar, had been kicked out of Doha in ig­nominy just hours ear­lier af­ter the US Anti-dop­ing Agency found him guilty of dop­ing of­fences.

Dina Asher-smith ad­vanced with grace­ful ease to tonight’s 200m fi­nal, for which she is the clear favourite af­ter the with­drawal of Ja­maica’s Elaine Thomp­son, the de­fend­ing Olympic cham­pion.

With the ab­sences of Hol­land’s Dafne Schip­pers and Marie-josee Ta Lou, not to men­tion the de­ci­sion by Ba­hamian Shau­nae Miller-uibo to pri­ori­tise the 400, the field has scat­tered for Asher-smith to seize the first-ever global gold medal by a British fe­male sprinter.

Fine mar­gins: Adam Gemili (cen­tre left) is pipped on the line by Alex Quinonez (far right) as Noah Lyles (cen­tre right) takes gold ahead of Canada’s An­dre De Grasse

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