Because of the events of 13 July 2013 at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, there is always a frisson of excitement when James Dasaolu runs, even if that has been limited to just three competitive outings this season.
He may not have got back to 9.91 seconds since but Rana Reider, coach to Dasaolu’s rival group in Loughborough, believes the Londoner has the ability to run quicker this season and eclipse Linford Christie’s 21-year-old British 100 metres record of 9.87.
Whether that happens at the European Championships in Zurich in the ensuing days remains to be seen but the key thing is that Dasaolu, for so long bedevilled by injury setbacks, is devoid of the hamstring problem that cut short his indoor season.
“I’m pretty much at 100 per cent,” he said. “I’ve run 10.03 twice already and I’ve a few more sessions just to sharpen up. But I have got no injuries or niggles. Things have been going well for me. I feel like I’m quite fresh and I still have a lot to give. I took four or five races last year to reach my peak, so I think it’s worked to my advantage.”
A fully fit Dasaolu is a mouth-watering prospect even if he is still wheeling out the same mantra: “I never really think about times.” How can he not? Word from his training camp is that he is in shape to become the fastest Briton of all time this week.
Christie’s record may prove intact after the 100m heats, semi-final and final tomorrow and on Wednesday but it is thought now a matter of when rather than if the record falls to the 26-year-old. In Moscow a year ago, the expectation was high. He was marked as a medal prospect despite having not competed since that sub-10sec time. The performances were fragmented, however. He only just scraped into the semi-finals but then ran 9.97 before finishing last in the final with a disappointing 10.20.
It led to suggestions that he had neither the fitness nor the mental strength required for the biggest stage. It is something that he and his coach, Steve Fudge, have worked on this season and there is no concern about a repeat in Zurich.
“The Europeans are not as high a level as the Worlds,” he said, “so I don’t need to run sub-10 to make the finals, and I’m a better athlete than I was last year.”
So what is the target for the Europeans? As things stand, he is ranked second in the start list behind France’s Jimmy Vicaut, who clocked 9.95 back in May but who has not run much since. “I would love to win a European medal indoors. I should pick up a medal, that’s what’s expected of me,” said Dasaolu.
He may not be in the official line-up for the 4x100m relay squad but he is keen to play a part. “It’s got the potential to become a record-breaking relay squad because British sprinting is at its best,” he added. “I’m sure that squad’s going to run some form of British record or something close to it.”
The former world-record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica, who served a six-month suspension after failing a doping test last year, set his fastest 100m time of the year, 10.02sec, at a meeting in Belem, Brazil, yesterday.