European Athletics Championships 2014: Relay squad does not need me to win gold, says James Dasaolu

Leaving out Britain’s fastest man shows the strength in depth available

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Great Britain will more than likely be without their fastest man for the European Championship 4 x 100m relay final. But James Dasaolu, crowned Europe’s best on Wednesday night, says they can still strike gold in Zurich.

The 26-year-old admitted that, having struggled with injury and not been involved in the squad’s practice runs for the championships, he would be cheering from the stands on Sunday.

While not quite akin to Usain Bolt being omitted from Jamaica’s relay squad, leaving out Britain’s fastest man – with a best time of 9.91 seconds – deprives the quartet of their most potent sprint weapon but also shows the strength in depth available to relay coach Rana Reider.

“It’s like it doesn’t matter what team we put out there,” said Dasaolu, who won individual gold in a time of 10.06sec. “I’m pretty sure we should win a medal and it should be a gold medal but, because we have such strength in depth, a medal is kind of guaranteed.

“The guys have been working really hard together. I don’t want to mess with the team’s chemistry. I’m not totally ruling out running in the relay but it’s very doubtful because the guys have practised together as a team all year round.”

Dasaolu has yet to feature for the British relay team at a major championships. Injury concerns meant he played no role in last season’s practice sessions and therefore he missed out on 4 x 100m selection at the World Championships. Similarly this year a hamstring tear during the indoor season effectively sounded the death knell for his relay involvement in Zurich.

“The thing is with the relay I haven’t been involved,” he added. “My focus for this European Championships has solely been on the individual. If they need me in the team I will be there… but it’s very doubtful. Going forward to next season I’d love to be a part of the relay and be involved in the set-up and go to their training camps.”

Dasaolu plans to stay in Switzerland for the rest of the week and said he would leave the championships with a new moniker. “It’s lovely to have a title, rather than say James 9.91, it is just a time, now it is James, 2014 European champion,” he said.

While Dasaolu has a solitary gold to his name, fellow Londoner Mo Farah now boasts nine titles at Olympic, World and European level and insisted he is fully fit to double up and go for his second Swiss gold in Sunday’s 5,000m.

The Londoner missed the Commonwealth Games after a health scare that left him hospitalised for four days but returned in Zurich to win 10,000m gold. His lack of track time led to question marks about his ability to bounce back just four days later over the shorter distance.

But Farah said: “I’m fine, back to normal. I’ve still got stitches in my ear [from when he fell unconscious on his bathroom floor], other than that I feel good and the last two weeks’ training have gone really well. I’m in a good place, good to go.”