There was a double Dutch nightmare on the opening night of the World Athletics Championships as Femke Bol’s dramatic fall handed Britain their first medal in Budapest.
The climax of the mixed 4x400m relay saw the Dutch star stumble and drop the baton just short of the finish line, handing Britain silver and USA gold.
Few highlighted Lewis Davey, Laviai Nielsen, Rio Mitcham, Yemi-Mary John and Joe Brier as potential medallists but it is that quintet responsible for getting Britain on the medal table.
“You never know what’s going to happen until you cross the line,” said John, who ran past Bol to clinch the medal. “I was ready for anything to happen.
“It was tough on the anchor leg, I was just aiming to close the gap on the USA and Netherlands and see how close we could get. They say my last 100m is my strongest so I had to just do what I'm good at and close.”
Britain were unable to make it out of the heats in the event at last year's World Championships but prospects were transformed this time around.
With Brier on the opening leg, they set a national record of 3:11.19 in the heats with Laviai Nielsen's split of 49.15 the second fastest ever by a British woman. They lowered that mark to 3:11.06 in the final.
Bol, meanwhile, will go in as favourite for individual gold in the women's 400m hurdles which culminates on Thursday.
“I got lactic, like we all do, and I think I cramped up when I felt someone next to me,” she said. “Then I was on the ground. I felt great but not in the last two metres!
“I’m lucky enough to have another chance in a couple of days, so I want my revenge.”
Bol was the second Dutch favourite to fall in the home straight in a matter of minutes.
Sifan Hassan, attempting the first portion of an unprecedented distance treble, stumbled in the closing metres while leading the women’s 10,000m.
That paved the way for an Ethiopian clean sweep of the podium with Gudaf Tsegay winning gold, Letesenbet Gidey silver and Ejgayehu Taye bronze.
Elsewhere, Katarina Johnson-Thompson soared into medal contention beyond the midway point of the heptathlon.
After a hesitant 100m hurdles effort, the 2019 world champion lit a spark by clearing a joint-high 1.86m in the high jump.
A solid 13.64m shot put was followed by a punchy victory in the 200m to leave the Liverpudlian in silver medal position overnight.
“It was an up and down day, especially given the start,” said Johnson-Thompson. “I’m really happy to end on a win.
“I just wanted to attack the 200, if anything I went a little bit too much off the bend, but I’m happy to end on a high.
“The 200 is one of my favourite events. I’ve had bad luck in it, last year I was in late two, the previous year was Tokyo and we all know how that ended, so I just wanted to attack it. I gave it my all.”
All six British 1500m runners safely navigated their preliminary rounds and the same went for the trio contesting the blue riband men’s 100m.
The 100m heats were far from electric with Jamaican Oblique Seville’s 9.86s the fastest time by a tenth of a second.
But Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, the quickest in the world this year, advanced with 10.00s – joined by ‘the world’s fastest accountant’ Eugene Amo-Dadzie and Reece Prescod.
There was disappointment for European indoor champion Jazmin Sawyers in the long jump, however.
Having staved off hamstring and quad injuries to compete, the 29-year-old's best effort of 6.41m was only enough for 22nd in qualification, missing the final by some distance.
"I was feeling good but I just couldn't make it happen," said Sawyers.
"I've had a very disrupted prep but to me, if I was willing to stand out there, then I should've been ready to easily qualify for the final and should've been going for a medal. I've massively underperformed there."
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