1min 59sec for 200m: Adam Gemili’s timing insult adds to agony of hamstring injury

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Adam Gemili was only able to walk his 200m after pulling up with injury - LUCY NICHOLSON
Adam Gemili was only able to walk his 200m after pulling up with injury - LUCY NICHOLSON

Britain’s sprinting woes continued at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday morning when a tear-streaked Adam Gemili was only able to walk his 200 metres heat after injury.

With heavy strapping on his right hamstring, Gemili abruptly pulled up and came to a halt just two steps after coming out of the blocks before walking the remainder of the race as tears ran down his face. To add insult to injury, he was given a time of one minute 58.58 seconds after crossing the finish line.

“The last run, literally the last run before I came into the call room, I felt it go,” he explained. “It’s my hamstring. I had to try but I’m in so much pain right now.

“I said to my physio, just strap it up and let me at least try to push out, but I can tell straight away.

“You don’t just cramp up when you sprint, it was a tear. I can’t believe this has happened.

Gemili can't believe his bad luck - Shutterstock
Gemili can't believe his bad luck - Shutterstock

“This season’s been really up and down and I’d finally put together five weeks of solid work. I was ready to go out there and win, to try and get a medal, at least a PB. I don’t get that chance now. It’s the worst feeling in the world.”

Gemili missed out on Olympic bronze by just 0.03sec at Rio 2016 and had been looking to finally make an individual global podium to add to his European and Commonwealth medals.

Aside from Daryll Neita, who unexpectedly made the women’s 100m final, it has been an Olympics to forget for Britain’s sprinters.

Dina Asher-Smith had been expected to challenge for two individual medals but failed to make the 100m final and withdrew from the 200m after revealing she, like Gemili, had suffered a torn hamstring.

Zharnel Hughes qualified for the men’s 100m final but false-started, just as Reece Prescod had done in the semi-finals.

There was more joy elsewhere on the track for British runners on Tuesday, with all three men making it through to the 1,500m semi-finals.

Jake Heyward won his heat in 3.36:14 - the fourth-fastest time of the round - while Jake Wightman also earned an automatic qualification spot. Jake Kerr had to wait to advance as a fastest loser after he was run into seventh in a super-quick heat.

“I don’t think it could have gone much better to be fair,” said Heyward. “I felt really good today and hopefully that bodes well going into the semi-final.

“You’ve got to be prepared for anything and I was prepared to run super hard today, so that was my mindset going in.”

Jodie Williams and Ama Pipi both made it through to the 400m semi-finals, although Nicole Yeargin was disqualified for a lane infringement.

Jazmin Sawyers managed a best of 6.80m to finish eighth in a long jump final won by Germany’s Malaika Mihambo with her final effort of the competition. America’s Brittney Reese took silver and Ese Brume, of Nigeria, bronze.

“I’m disappointed,” said Sawyers. “Any Olympic final is an achievement but at this point in my career I think I would be doing myself a disservice if I was satisfied with eighth place.”

More heartache for GB in 400m

By Thom Gibbs

It was a morning of harsh heartbreak for Team GB’s Nicole Yeargin at the Olympic Stadium, who was disqualified from her 400m heat after committing a lane infringement.

The news came through that Yeagrin had been scrubbed from the race as she was speaking to the BBC after seemingly finishing third, a grim contrast to her upbeat tone in the interview.

“First one down, it's always the most nerve-wracking,” she said. Drawn in lane eight, Yeagrin was barely out of the blocks when she was spotted planting her left foot twice on the line. Her eighth and tenth strides of the race alerted a track official, who raised the dreaded red flag.

Still unaware of her disqualification, Yeagrin was happy with her race. "I'm usually good in the outside lanes. I ran my PR [personal record] in lane nine.”

Asked about her Olympics experience so far she said: "It's been good. I guess you think ‘oh my gosh it's the Olympics!’ but when you're running it's just a normal track meet.”

While the infringement was minor it was clear in slow-motion replays. Track athletes are immediately disqualified for treading on a line during any race, as taking a marginally shorter route around corners means they are running slightly under the stated distance.

Yeargin can not claim she was not warned. All runners know that any line-infringement is immediately spotted and punished. A blind eye is sometimes turned to a single slight step on the edge of a line, but Yeargin’s foot was clearly touching on two occasions.

Yeargin was disqualified from her 400m heat after committing a lane infringement. - Getty Images
Yeargin was disqualified from her 400m heat after committing a lane infringement. - Getty Images

“That is really tough,” said former British 100m champion Jeanette Kwakye on the BBC. “It looked strict as well but those are the rules and we have to be honest.

“As athletes you have to be able to stay in your lane.”

Officials are keener to punish these offences in modern athletics, with one men’s 400m heat at the World Indoors in Birmingham in 2018 ending in farce when the entire field was disqualified. Abdalelah Haroun’s false start earned him a red card and the remaining four runners were all guilty of lane infringements.

Yeargin’s run had been impressive in the session’s fourth heat, emerging into an early lead then staying calm when overtaken and hanging on to clinch third place. That would have been enough for automatic qualification for Wednesday’s sem-final, but Yeagrin has a final shot of glory at Tokyo in Thursday’s 4X400m women’s relay.

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