England sizzle to defend 4x100m relay title as Matt Hudson-Smith settles for silver

·4-min read
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Perhaps it’s finally time to drop the talk about dropping the baton.

With some notable exceptions, too often the story of sprint relays was more about the spills than the thrills.

But as England’s 4x100m male quartet scampered to Commonwealth Games gold, surely that trend has turned.

They held their nerve to defend their title from four years ago in the Gold Coast, less than two weeks after three of the team won bronze for Great Britain at the World Championships in Oregon.

Ojie Edoburun - replacing the injured Reece Prescod - anchored home the quartet that also included world medallists Jona Efoloko, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, the latter two part of last year’s Olympic team that won silver only to lose it when team-mate CJ Ujah tested positive for drugs.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“This is something we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives,” said Edoburun.

“I’m just so happy to come in and fit in right away with the boys, they’ve been killing it these last few years.

“I just didn’t want to miss out on this special generation of athletes, everyone is so gifted. To have the responsibility of bringing them home, words can’t describe it.”

Matthew Hudson-Smith thought he knew every inch of Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium only to find one all-comer knew it just slightly better.

Hudson-Smith was favourite to upgrade his recent world 400m bronze to Commonwealth gold on the track where he learned his trade.

Coming off the final bend, roared on by another capacity crowd, the race seemed at his mercy only for a late charge by unknown African champion Muzala Samukonga in the outside lane.

The Zambian teenager was fifth entering the home straight but turned on the rockets to snatch the gold in the final stages, a disbelieving Hudson-Smith admitting he didn’t see him coming.

 (PA)
(PA)

“I went for the win, but it wasn’t to be,” said Hudson-Smith.

“My strategy was to come out relaxed, wind it up in the top bend then come on strong.

“I tightened up in the home straight. I probably could have done that a bit differently. I don’t want to make excuses - it happens.

“I can’t complain with a medal and I’m learning as I go. I can take the positives and negatives from it, I said I wanted three medals this summer - a silver and a bronze so far, there’s only one colour missing for the Europeans now.

“Is the colour I wanted? No, but you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’m just sorry I couldn’t bring it home for all these incredible fans.”

Victoria Ohuruogu also claimed silver in the women’s 400m while England team-mate Jodie Williams grabbed bronze in a race won by Barbados athlete Sada Williams in a 49.90 second Games record.

Ohuruogu, who is coached by Olympic and two-time world champion sister Christine, admits she’s a late bloomer on the athletics scene, aged 29.

It’s 12 years since she made her debut at the Youth Olympics in Singapore, some time to wait for your career high.

“It took me quite a few years to get over the comparisons with Christine and start feel comfortable with the athlete I am,” she said, after clocking a 50.72 sec personal best.

“I’ve a great relationship with Christine and being inspired by her was a huge positive. I think subconsciously I still struggled with the comparisons.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Elsewhere, Nigeria set a new African record to win the women’s 4x100m with England’s Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Daryll Neita chasing them home in silver.

And England’s Cindy Sember finally claimed her first major outdoor medal with a 100m hurdles bronze, in a race won by Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan in a new Games record.

“That felt really good, and I’m just so pleased with my performance,” she said.

“This is my first major outdoor medal and I’m just very grateful for the opportunity to race in front of this crowd.

“I’ve been going through a lot with injuries, and this makes it all worth it and hopefully I’ve made everyone proud.”

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