Matt Hudson-Smith (coach: Gary Evans; club: Birchfield Harriers) impressively claimed his first individual World Athletics Championships medal, a bronze, in the men’s 400m, which kept the streak going for the British team in Oregon.
Hudson-Smith, enjoying a fine season so far having broken the near 25-year-old British 400m record at the same venue back in May, lived up to his potential as he beat his rivals to secure bronze in 44.66 seconds.
It also ends a 31-year wait for a British medal in the men’s 400m at a World Championships with Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s tally in Oregon now at four after a medal during each of the past four evenings.
Elsewhere Thursday night, Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter; Leigh) looked relaxed and in control in the women’s 800m semi-finals. She was calm throughout and went on to win the second heat and qualify for the final as the third fastest in 1:58.51.
And on the eighth day…
Also on the eighth day of action at Hayward Field both of the British women’s and men’s 4x100m relay teams made safe passage to their own finals as they both pursue a third consecutive World Championship medal.
It all came down to the final 100m for Hudson-Smith as he went in pursuit of ending that three-decade wait for a British men’s 400m medal at a World Championships – and he wouldn’t be denied.
Hudson-Smith was in a line with Kirani James, Michael Norman and Wayde van Niekerk out of the bend before the American pulled away to secure gold. James also went ahead for silver while Hudson-Smith faced a battle for bronze.
It was first with South African Niekerk and then the very fast finishing American, Champion Allison, but he wouldn’t be denied bronze – and a special place in British athletics history – in a time of 44.66.
He said, “That was mad. I knew that everyone who was going to medal was on the inside [of him] and I just went [for it]. The game plan went out of the window, I just ran. It felt like a weight was on my back [in the last 100m].
“I then felt Wayde and Champion on my outside and I was like ‘hang on for dear life’. I knew I was close enough to Kirani where I thought I could get him but at the same time I knew there was another person on the outside of me so I was ‘please hang on’ and I got a medal.
“I don’t think people really know the half of it. It has been a whirlwind these past three years – Achilles tendon tears, hamstring tears, a lot of mental health issues – it has been mad.
“I don’t even think I have scratched the surface. This is just the beginning. I got the monkey off my back, which was the British record, and I’ve got another monkey off my back, which is getting a world medal and it is now just pushing on from here and keep going.”
Earlier, Olympic silver medallist Hodgkinson’s performance in the second of three semi-finals in the women’s 800m – which featured nine athletes following a reinstatement – was near enough perfect as she qualified for the final in 1:58.51.
With Australian Catriona Bisset hitting the front early, Hodgkinson and teammate Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) stalked behind. Hodgkinson would eventually catch her on the back straight and then break away with Natoya Goule and Raevyn Rogers.
Hodgkinson wouldn’t be caught by either to complete a very impressive semi-final while teammate Baker couldn’t quite keep up her early pace in her first World Championship semi-final, placing eighth in that heat in 2:02.77.
“I had to get out quite hard as I was in lane four, but I managed the race well,” said Hodgkinson. “I think that race was always going to be about keeping my composure and believing in my abilities so I’m happy to be safely through.
“Championships are a great opportunity to put everything out there. If it goes really well [in the final] then I’ll be happy, and if it doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world. I’m really happy with my two races so far, and I’m excited to be back out there racing in the final.
“There is a lot of talent in that field, so plenty of us will be battling for a medal, so it’ll be a really exciting race to be a part of, probably one of the races of the Championships.”
We're NOT ready for this final 😤— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) July 23, 2022
Olympic champion @athiiing 🇺🇸 runs 1:58.12 to secure the fastest time of three 800m semi-finals.
Diribe Welteji 🇪🇹, @keelyhodgkinson 🇬🇧 and @TheROYALlife21 🇺🇸 also through.
Results 📊 https://t.co/PiuVcqYomn#WorldAthleticsChamps pic.twitter.com/XP6KFeOwve
Jemma Reekie (Andy Young; Kilbarchan) was the first of the British women’s 800m quartet to race in the semi-finals but unfortunately couldn’t advance, forced to go wide in the final 150 metres and finishing fifth in 2:00.43.
Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson; Pudsey & Bramley) was the last of the four Brits up in the third and final semi-final and was well placed in third at the bell. As the pace changed though, Bell lost a few places, crossing in seventh in 2:00.82.
The British women’s 4x100m relay quartet, who have won a medal at every major championships since finishing fourth at the 2015 Worlds were superb in the first of two heats.
From Asha Philip (Amy Deem; Newham & Essex Beagles) to Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Stuart McMillan; Sutton & District) to Ashleigh Nelson (Leon Baptiste; City of Stoke), they were seamless in their first three changeovers.
The same could be said for Nelson to Daryll Neita (Marco Airale; Cambridge Harriers), who produced a powerful final leg to help the British quartet to momentary world lead of 41.99 seconds, 0.38 ahead of Jamaica in that heat, and what would later be second overall behind the USA.
Philip said, “It’s nice that we have such a strong team. The level of sprinting in the UK keeps rising and that is what we need. We are not here to play, we are contenders and we have great confidence.”
Lansiquot said, “The goal was to be brave and do a good job for the rest of the girls. We are all in fantastic shape, and we’ve had so many great sessions out here, so it is all about rising to this level of competition which I am excited about.
Nelson said, “I thought we ran amazingly as a team and we’ll go back and analyse it as the team is probably going to change in the final – Dina’s [Asher-Smith] got to come in somewhere as third in the world, and that will give us our little extra bit.”
And Neita, who agonisingly missed out on a place in the 100m final six days ago by 0.01, said: “It was good, I am happy. It’s nice to be back out there. It felt good to be out there – it is an amazing atmosphere and tomorrow we’re going to turn it up even more so we’re really excited.”
The British men’s 4x100m relay quartet, world champions in 2017 and silver medallists last time in Doha in 2019, also made smooth progress to the final in their own bid to keep that medal streak going.
Adam Gemili (Blackheath & Bromley) to Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills; Shaftesbury Barnet) proved as tried and tested as ever before Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Ryan Freckleton; Newham & Essex Beagles) took the third leg.
Hughes to Mitchell-Blake solid as was the handover to Reece Prescod (Marvin Rowe; Enfield & Haringey) on the anchor leg – this his first major championship relay outing – as the British quartet finished second in the first heat in 38.49, and seventh overall.
Gemili said, “That was alright – not as fast as we would have wanted but it’s qualifying and we’ve done it so that’s all we can ask for at this stage. We can look back at where we can improve and step it up to another level.”
Hughes said, “We did a pretty good job in getting the baton around but there is a lot more to be done and we can do a lot more in the next 24 hours. I think I ran a pretty good leg. I can turn it over a bit faster so I have more to give.”
Mitchell-Blake said, “It was alright – each of us will have to raise our game though, and hopefully that will be enough to let us come home with a medal. We’ve put a lot of effort into this which has been well documented and validated in the past by securing medals for Great Britain.”
Prescod said, “I’m glad we’ve got the first bit done to qualify. I’m just really focused for that final now. I’m obviously new to the team, so that was my first experience racing with the team.
“All the boys have made me feel welcome and comfortable, so I am happy to be a part of it now. I want to give my best for the team in the final.”
After having to cruelly withdraw from qualifying with injury on his World Championship debut in Doha in 2019, British No.1 pole vaulter Harry Coppell (Scott Simpson; Wigan & District) took to the runaway in anger for the first time on day eight.
Coppell cleared the first time after opening up at 5.30m and repeated the trick at 5.50m however 5.65m proved tricky and he failed to make it through to a first World Championship final in Oregon, finishing qualifying 19th overall.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland Medal tally:
Gold: Jake Wightman – 1500m
Bronze: Laura Muir – 1500m
Bronze: Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Bronze: Matt Hudson-Smith – 400m