James Dasaolu is not the first British sprinter to break 10.10 seconds for the 100m. In fact, the Croydon Harrier became the tenth to do so when he sped to victory in 10.09sec in the EAP Swiss Meeting in Geneva on Saturday. Still, in breaking through to ground classed as world-class territory in the sprinting game, the 21-year-old has become the first Briton to get there without a background as a prodigy in the schoolboy or junior ranks. He has also run faster than Allan Wells, the Olympic 100m champion of 1980, ever managed – his best time was 10.11sec, which is still a Scottish record.
A relative latecomer to track and field, Dasaolu boasted a best time of 10.75sec in 2006, then improved to 10.33 in 2007 and 10.26 last year, when he won the England Under-23 title and made it to the semi-finals at the Olympic trials. In the opening weeks of the 2009 outdoor season he has improved to 10.15sec and now 10.09, making him the joint-second fastest man this year in both Britain and Europe, level with Simeon Williamson and only just behind Dwain Chambers, who heads the continental and domestic rankings with 10.06sec.
The 100m spot in the British team for the European Team Championships at Leiria, Portugal, on 20 and 21 June would appear to be between Chambers and Williamson, who finished first and fourth respectively in the 60m final at the European Indoor Championships in Turin in March.
Dasalou, however, will get the chance to measure his speed against that of Chambers when the pair meet at an invitation event at Montreuil on the outskirts of Paris this Thursday and the Loughborough University student is likely to land a slot in the 4 x 100m relay squad when the British team for Leiria is selected after the SuperEight meeting in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Dasalou, who is guided by British sprint relay coach Mike Khmel, beat two notable domestic rivals to win in Geneva. His training partner Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (left), the 2006 world junior 100m champion, finished second in 10.17. Craig Pickering, 60m silver medallist at the 2007 European indoor Championships, was third in 10.31.
The performance has raised Dasalou to joint fourth place in the UK under 23 all-time rankings, alongside Jason Livingston. The only Britons to have run faster in that age-group are Chambers (9.97), Williamson (10.03) and Mark Lewis-Francis (10.04).