Adam Gemili and Jodie Williams crowned 200m champions on day two of World trials

  • Kobe Tong

With a swing of his arm, bulging with veins and fist clenched in delight, Adam Gemili rounded off a thrilling weekend at the British Athletics Championships.

Barely 24 hours had passed since the former Chelsea footballer had missed out on the 100-metre crown, clocking the same time but losing in a photo-finish to a resplendent Ojie Edoburun.

However, despite having secured his place in Doha for the most explosive of sprints, Gemili wanted to finish the weekend with a gold medal around his neck and did just that in the 200 metres.

Going blow for blow with British lead Miguel Francis and heavy favourite Zharnel Hughes around the bend, Gemili held his form to pull away comfortably and cross the line in 20.08 seconds.

The red lettering of ‘Championship Record’ greeted his fantastic performance and there’s every chance it could have been sub-20 if it wasn’t for an abrasive headwind down the home straight.

Gemili defeats Hughes and Francis

It was a true moment of vindication for Gemili, who had only ran the 200m once in 2019 before this weekend and had to exorcise the demons of previous injuries at the Alexander Stadium.

Shaded by the Union Jack that will adorn wear his vest in Doha, the 25-year-old told British Athletics: “I feel exhausted now but leaving I’m really happy!

“I knew coming in I didn’t have the qualifying time and I knew the field was unreal and I knew there were four of us in there that are sub-10 seconds for the 100m and Zharnel is sub-20 seconds for the 200m in his career and anyone could have taken it.

“I needed to execute properly and I’m so thrilled to have done that. I’m so happy to have got the automatic qualification mark in the 200m and I’ve taken it out of the selectors hands in the 100m and the 200m which I’m happy with.

“To come here and put together four good runs I’m really pleased. The last two years I’ve been written off by people in the sport and it’s nice to prove people wrong when I am healthy.”

Williams claims 200m title

Meanwhile, in the women’s 200 metres, the gusty Birmingham conditions were even harsher and a frankly biblical headwind of -4.3m/s ended any hopes of a Championship Record.

Dobbin joins Williams in Doha

With Dina Asher-Smith deciding against an appearance in the half-lap, an absolute war unfolded down the home straight and Jodie Williams rode the gales better than anybody else.

Raising two fingers to suggestions she should move up to the 400m, Williams dethroned reigning champion Beth Dobbin and proved that she’s a force to be reckoned with when fit.

However, although it was silver this time for Dobbin, the Scottish record-holder was still delighted with a performance that came less than a day after a car accident.

Tough build-up for Dobbin

Speaking to GiveMeSport after her head-to-head with Williams, she explained: “I know if I can get a solid block of training under my belt, that I can go to Doha and really mix it with the best.

“I know that today isn’t what I’m capable of, but it is what I’m capable of when I’ve had such an awful build-up. It is what it is. I’ve had a stressful few weeks. I actually had a car accident as well yesterday!

“I’ve only ever had two car accidents in my life and the first one was in 2017, the night before trials and it wasn’t my fault, whereas the one yesterday was my fault. I crossed the line and I just felt like breaking down in tears, it’s just been so stressful.”

Other events on day two in Birmingham

The rollercoaster of emotions that is Laviai Nielsen’s 2019 season arrived at its highest peak so far, with the Lee Valley-based runner finally collecting her maiden British title.

Despite only recently recovering from a slight niggle after the Anniversary Games, the 23-year-old neutralised the challenge of Emily Diamond to book her place in Doha in 52.04 seconds.

Meanwhile, the men’s 800m lived up to its billing as one of the most competitive races of the weekend and fans could be forgiven for chucking the form-book out the window after 700m.

European medalist Jamie Webb, who now faces an agonising wait from selectors, had to settle for the third step on the podium behind sensational runs from Guy Learmonth and Spencer Thomas. 

In the men’s triple jump, Ben Williams continued his recent haul of person bests by blowing away the opposition with a monster first-round jump of 17.27 metres. 

Eilish McColgan was in no mood to wait around during the 5,000m, leading from the first kilometre to the last, and replacing one of her medals that was stolen in May in the process.

Similarly in the women’s 1,500m, Sarah McDonald was a picture of delight after claiming the British title with a time of 4:22.94 and kissing goodbye to the Alexander Stadium in true style.

All eyes on Doha in September/October

On a gloriously summery afternoon in Birmingham, the sun certainly shined bright on British athletics as the country’s top performers booked their place at the World Championships in Doha.

The best runners, jumpers and throwers on British shores now have between four and five weeks to replicate the success they showed domestically against the world’s elite competitors.

Perhaps both the weather and the performances gave us a taste of what’s to come in Qatar…

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