Point made as James Dasaolu storms back tio take 60m win over Dwain Chambers
Sprinter puts rival in his place on an uplifting day for high-fliers Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Holly Bleasdale
Sunday 09 February 2014
Silence, it appears, is golden – for James Dasaolu, in any case. Britain's fastest man admitted he was barely on speaking terms with his on-track rival Dwain Chambers in the build-up to the British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
Come the 60m showdown between the pair, Dasaolu had the last word, overcoming a poor start to win in 6.50sec, the same time he clocked in beating Chambers two weekends previously.
It proved a promising day in terms of the World Indoors next month as Holly Bleasdale moved top of the year's world rankings with her clearance of 4.73m in the pole vault while Katarina Johnson-Thompson, in the home city of an absent Jessica Ennis-Hill, broke the 17-year-old British high-jump record.
After his victory, Dasaolu tried to downplay the apparent frostiness between the pair, saying, "We're all on the same team," while Chambers refused to be drawn on Dasaolu's comments that his time at the head of British sprinting was over.
"I'd rather let my legs do the talking on that one," said Chambers, who looks certain to be in the British team with Dasaolu at the World Indoors in Poland. "He's in a position of confidence so it's OK. But when people write you off, it spurs you on. Keep the comments coming."
The result ended Chambers's remarkable run of form at the English Institute of Sport, where he has won five British indoor titles and boasted a record 17 successive victories before this defeat.
Both men looked comfortable in the heats and semi-finals but Das-aolu, who has worked tirelessly on his start with his coach, Steve Fudge, over the winter, was the last of the finalists out of the blocks before recovering his composure to win.
He said: "It's not the greatest start but Poland is 30 days from today so today is all about qualification. I know there's more in the tank. All today was about was doing three rounds in a day and coming through unscathed, with no injuries, and booking myself on the plane."
For an athlete whose previous high-jump best was 1.89m, Johnson-Thompson's clearance of 1.96m, which beat Debbie Marti's national marque from 1997, was an astonishing achievement.
After her clearance the Liverpool athlete collapsed on the mat with her head in her hands, and later she was tweeted congratulations by Ennis-Hill, who is missing from the track as she prepares for the birth this year of her first child.
"With Liverpool winning 5-1, it was a good day for Liverpool all round," said Johnson-Thompson, who said she had been working with her coach, Mike Holmes, on improving her mental approach.
"With the high jump, it's a height you can see and you've got to clear it and that's a lot harder than the long jump. Last year and the year before I knew I had a good jump in me but it's just me against the bar. So me and my coach have been working on it mentally to try to get myself to overcome it."
Johnson-Thompson will compete again today in the 60m hurdles and long jump, and has also set her sights on earning a place in the pentathlon at the World Indoors in Sopot, although that is by no means guaranteed.
"The World Indoors is invitation only [in pentathlon]," she said. "In order for me to go, I'll need to do a pentathlon, which I'm doing next weekend in Holland, and hopefully I'll get an invite."
Bleasdale, meanwhile, sailed over 4.73m, the biggest clearance by any athlete in the world this year. Showing none of the injury problems that curtailed her season last year, she fell just shy in later attempts to clear the stadium record of 4.81m.
Asha Philip came agonisingly close to a second British record of the day, but her time of 7.09sec in the women's 60m was only one hundredth of a second shy of Jeanette Kwayke's national mark, which was set in 2008 a year after Philip suffered a horrific knee injury in a fall on a trampoline.
It was even tighter in the men's 60m hurdles, where Andy Pozzi and William Sharman could not be separated and shared the British title with a time of 7.64sec.
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