World Championships 2013: Great Britain disqualified from 4x100m relay and lose bronze medal after illegal changeover between Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and James Ellington
Baton blunder returns to haunt Britain's sprint relay team
Sunday 18 August 2013
For Britain in Moscow, it had all been about the double double but it ended with a baton muddle as one sprint relay medal slipped through their grasp and another landed in their lap.
On a night of confusion, Britain's men's 4x100m relay team won bronze only to be disqualified while the women's sprint contingent, who had finished fourth, were awarded the bronze when their French rivals were themselves disqualified. It proved a bizarre end to the championships but at least meant the team achieved their pre-ordained medal target of six set by UK Sport.
The irony in all this was the men's line-up had been the ones tipped for a medal and, as a result, had been given National Lottery funding in their quest to do so while the women's quartet did not benefit from quite the same riches as their male counterparts.
For the men, though, it was a familiar story. Whatever their line-up, they have had a calamitous record on the big stage, this being a fifth successive major championship disqualification and arguably the most painful.
Adam Gemili, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Dwain Chambers had the news broken to them just as they were getting ready for the medal presentation. The problem lay in the second changeover from Aikines-Aryeetey to Ellington, the latter reduced to tears in the bowels of the stadium.
Moscow in 2013 initially appeared to be different to the past fumbles, Chambers coming across the line with the bronze behind Jamaica and the United States. The veteran of the team at 35 was celebrating a historic World Championship medal 14 years after his last in the same event.
But a protest was lodged by Canada, originally in fourth, and replays showed the second changeover had taken place outside the alloted box. There was a sense of irony in the disqualification, in that Canada's head coach is Peter Eriksson, who just seven weeks ago held the same post in Great Britain.
Aikines-Aryeetey said: “It's heart-breaking. I feel like shit. You're going out there to get your medal and then someone stands in front of you and says 'sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You can't take away how much this hurts us. This is painful, one of the most painful experiences I've had in this sport.”
Just as the drama appeared to be over and the stadium packed up, news emerged that France had been disqualified in the women's event ensuring a third bronze for the team in Moscow to add to the three golds.
In the race itself, the four of Dina Asher Smith, Ashleigh Nelson, Annabel Lewis and Hayley Jones had been the fifth-fastest line-up. With an unchanged team for the final, they held second going into the final leg of Jones but dropped down to fourth, just 0.12 seconds off a bronze. It was a painful way to finish but the result was overturned although sadly they did not get their moment on the podium, the four already back in the team hotel by the time the news broke.
After the altered result, Jones said: “I can't even think what to say, I'm shaking right now. We were all screaming in the corridor when we found out. It was so disappointing to finish fourth, it really is the worst place so this is great. I'd heard originally that there were a few things that were a bit dodgy but, with it taking so long to come through I thought the appeal had been rejected.”
A day after the Prime Minister had suggested that Mo Farah was worthy of a knighthood for his two golds at world and Olympic level, there was no doubt who the lord of the Luzhniki was, Usain Bolt once more bringing down the curtain on a major championships with a third gold.
The day, in fact, the whole championships belonged to Bolt. Of male athletes, it put him on a pedestal with eight World Championship gold medals alongside Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis. Only fellow Jamaican Merlene Ottey, with 14 World Championship medals but just three golds, is left to beat on the all-time list. On current form, he will add to that tally at the next Worlds at the Bird's Nest in Beijing, where he first laid down his marker as a global superstar.
For once, this was not about just one man, a trio of his countrymen also playing a part in his third gold in Moscow: Nesta Carter, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Asmeade. But it was clear they had only come to watch Bolt, who delighted them with a spot of barefoot cossack dancing proving to be the piece de resistance of this third celebration. The dance moves were not quite befitting of Bob Marley's “Don't Worry”, which has become the familiar refrain for each and every one of Bolt's gold medals in the Russian capital.
Record breaking is something that Bolt does for fun. There was not to be one here in Moscow, three golds and three more world titles will have to suffice. He'd celebrated his previous day's gold with an ice bath. One suspects these celebrations will be quite different.
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