Blake halted by more injury problems as British return falls flat

 

Hampden Park

It had been billed as the return of Yohan Blake to British soil but it ended with “The Beast” tamed and slumped on the track here as three men ran under 10 seconds.

It had been billed as the return of Yohan Blake to British soil but it ended with “The Beast” tamed and slumped on the track here as three men ran under 10 seconds.

Blake had warned he was unlikely to produce the fireworks that have seen him crowned Olympic and world champion at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix, but pulled up from the halfway point with what he later said was cramp. The fear, though, is that this is a premature end to a second successive season.

In truth, the possibility of victory had looked unlikely from the outset as countryman Nickel Ashmeade clocked the same time as American Mike Rodgers of 9.97 seconds in a blanket finish but was given the win, while Jamaica’s Nesta Carter was third, a hundredth of a second behind.

The sightings of James Dasaolu on a race track have been few and far between since a hamstring injury in February but he once again matched the 10.03sec he ran in Lausanne recently to take fourth in Glasgow.

Two days shy of the anniversary of his blistering 9.91sec run at the 2013 British Championships, Dasaolu currently lacks the rhythm to quite match that effort at present but, in what is a simple head to head with Chijindu Ujah for the remaining 100 metre spot at the European Championships, he arguably further aided his selection credentials with Ujah missing from the field.

Usain Bolt has said he will only run in the relay at Glasgow’s Games Usain Bolt has said he will only run in the relay at Glasgow’s Games (Getty Images)
Dasaolu said: “I don’t think it was the best of races but it’s only my second race of the season so I’ve got more to come. For the Europeans, it’s an unfortunate situation for both me and Ujah to be in. If I get selected then I get selected but, if I don’t, I’ll continue to enjoy the rest of the season.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s superb year shows now signs of dissipating, the Liverpudlian getting ever closer to the seven-metre mark in the long jump with a lifetime best.

Her effort of 6.92m was not enough to give her the win – she had to make do with second behind Tianna Bartoletta – but it was 11 centimetres better than her previous best in an event where the heptathlete is effectively a part-timer. “I’ve fallen in love with the stadium, I can’t wait to come back for the Commonwealth,” she said.

Johnson-Thompson’s main rival for heptathlon gold at the Commonwealth Games, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, was watching in the stands as another “part-timer”, her  husband Ashton Eaton, took to the track.

Eaton too came in second, the decathlon Olympic and world champion, who only took up the 400m hurdles for fun for a few months in 2014, beating the likes of defending Olympic champion Felix Sanchez in a race won by Javier Culson.

It was a race noticeable for the absence of Dai Greene, who had to pull out. Without the required qualifying time, it effectively ruled him out of selection for next month’s European Championship  when the team selection is made next week. Following a winter of surgery and injury problems, it also casts doubt over his form and fitness for the Commonwealth Games.

The night was infinitely brighter for Greene’s training partner Eilidh Child. If Jessica Ennis-Hill was the poster girl of London 2012, then Child is filling that role for the Commomwealth Games. A huge billboard of the Scottish 400m hurdler greets you the moment you leave Glasgow International Airport and she has also been photographed on the roof of Hampden Park draped in a Saltire.

On a firmer footing at the Games’ warm-up event, she had instead spoken of a desire to raise the roof. With Hampden Park barely a tenth of its capacity, her greeting in the Glaswegian sunshine was a tad more muted than the infamous Hampden Roar.

But Child was not unduly concerned, the 27-year-old approaching the form of her life, winning over a world-class field in a time of 54.39sec, a season’s best and the second quickest time of her career. It put the former school teacher fourth in the world rankings for 2014.

“I didn’t expect such a loud cheer at the start,” she said. “To have that, I just think, ‘what’s it going to be like in a couple of weeks when the Games actually start?’ It was just incredible. I’m not feeling the pressure at the moment but should I be? I see it as support and not pressure.”

There was a world record for Stef Reid in the F44 long jump, her effort of 5.47m pocketing her $15,000 in the process. She said of her jump: “I knew I had it in me.”

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