James Dasaolu’s coming of age catapults Briton into big time


Click to follow
The Independent Online

James Dasaolu may have been back at home with his feet up perusing tweets from the great and good of global sprinting but he remained the talking point for a second successive day at the Sainsbury’s British Championships.

A day previously, Britain’s second fastest man of all time went from a relative unknown to become one of the fastest sprinters in the world in the space of just 9.91 seconds over 100m.

It led to Twitter plaudits from former Olympic champion Donovan Bailey who wrote “congrats kid u got a lot left in the tank”.

There is a bubbling sense of excitement that Dasaolu can go faster yet. His semi-final sprint, after which he pulled out of the final with cramp, looked technically excellent but a twist of the head on the line arguably cost a tenth or two while he and coach Steve Fudge believe he can go quicker still.

Former British Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell tipped Dasaolu to drop to the 9.8 sec mark and said it was realistic for him to have aspirations of challenging the American-Jamaican hegemony.

“He’s just run 9.91 seconds – that really does put him at the top table in the world,” he said. “That will strike fear into the top sprinters. Trust me, when you run that kind of time they do start to worry about you. If he is able to stay healthy for the World Champ-ionships, he could get a medal.”

At 25, Dasaolu took up the sport seriously only when he began a leisure management degree at Loughborough University, where he is still based, as an 18-year-old.

London-born Dasaolu, the son of Nigerian parents, finished some way off the pace of Usain Bolt in the pair’s Olympic heat last year, but can now have aspirations to at least keep pace with the fastest man on the planet.

While Dasaolu’s blistering running was the stand-out performance of the three days of the national championships, which also double as the Worlds trials, the strong runs of Dwain Chambers, who won the 100m when Dasaolu pulled out with cramp, and runner-up Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, who along with Chambers clocked the A qualifying standard, leave British sprinting in a rosier place that it has been for some time. With Adam Gemili crowned European Under-23 champion over the distance last week and Joel Fearon also with the A standard from earlier in the season, it gives the UK Athletics selection panel plenty to talk about when they meet today.

UKA performance director Neil Black, who ruled out a run-off, said: “It is the first time we have a choice on who we take to the World Champion-ships. It’s incredible for James and it was one of a series of really fast runs.

“We’re incredibly happy for him and backed up by Harry, Mark [Lewis-Francis]and Adam, sprinting is in a great place. It’s for the selectors to select and that’s what we’re there for. We’re constantly in contact with the athletes and coaches and we’re fully updated to take that into Monday’s selection meeting.”

n Perri Shakes-Drayton spent last night at the scene of her biggest career disappointment. But the new British champion did so with a smile on her face, hot-footing it to the Olympic Park fresh from her 400m hurdles win in Birmingham to watch Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake in concert.

Her 14th win over British rival Eilidh Child marks her out as a serious medal contender at the World Championships, but she will not be complacent. “I won the Diamond League in Crystal Palace a year ago but I didn’t manage what I was capable of at the Olympics so it shows anything can happen,” she said. “But I’d be happy with a medal. In the past, I never even made the final so I need to make the final first.”