Danny Talbot admitted the “heart-break” of missing out on selection for last year’s World Championships fired him to victory over Adam Gemili in the 200 metres at the Sainsbury’s British Championships. He thinks he can beat him to the European title too.
The 23-year-old finished strongly in the rain at Alexander Stadium to pip his friend in 20.42sec, sealing his place on the Great Britain team for the European Championships in Zurich in August.
The pair were room-mates at the London Olympics but, while Gemili went on to compete in last year’s World Championships 200m final in Moscow, running 19.98sec to get there, Talbot missed out.
“I definitely had a point to prove,” the Trowbridge athlete said. “Last season, missing out on the World Championships was the most heart-breaking thing that’s happened to me in the sport. Me and my coach [Daniel Cossins] went away, set up a plan and trained so hard over the winter, so it’s really nice to come back this year and prove a point.”
Talbot spent the whole indoor season training as a 400m runner, which was key to his strength down the home straight, and is determined to taste success in summer. “I want to win at the Europeans,” he said. “I’ve just beaten a world-class field with Chris Clarke and James Ellington and Adam. If I can beat Adam hopefully I can go on and challenge [France’s Christophe] Lemaitre and the rest of Europe.”
Talbot has been in the form of his life this year, with personal bests over 100m (10.14sec) and 200m (20.36). Gemili’s time of 20.61 was outside the qualifying mark for Zurich but, with time to achieve it, he is still likely to be selected.
Talbot, the European bronze medallist two years ago, is confident of beating his compatriot in Switzerland too. “When I’m on the start line I’m not going to shy away from anything so yes, hopefully in the Europeans I can do that.
“It will be brilliant out there,” added Talbot, who will also race over 200m for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “If I win in Zurich or Glasgow, all the hard work will mean something.
“Right now it’s just great being British champion, but you don’t want to just be British champion, you want to be world and Olympic champion, so hopefully they’ll be two stepping stones in the summer.”
Gemili, whose heat on Friday was his first competitive 200m race of the year, revealed he had suffered cramp in his foot, but paid tribute to the victor.
“He’s been one of my best mates in the sport for the last couple of years,” Gemili said. “He’s been unlucky with making teams so for him to come and win it, I’m so happy for him.”
The men’s 100m is the most eagerly anticipated event this weekend and all the big guns made it safely through to today’s semi-finals.
Chijindu Ujah, who heads the British rankings with 9.96sec, was the fastest qualifier in 10.26, while Dwain Chambers (10.34), the world indoor champion Richard Kilty (10.40), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (10.41) and James Ellington (10.48) all won their heats.
Chambers, 36, is bidding for his fifth successive British title, but knows it will be tough to hold back the tide of young domestic talent.
“I’m very pleased with that today,” Chambers said. “I’m going into the championships as a defending champion, but I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me as there is a lot of good talent around. It is early days, but I’m really looking forward to racing again tomorrow.”