EILIDH Child picked up her seventh major medal as Great Britain and Northern Ireland claimed bronze in the women’s 4x400m relay as the world championships ended in Beijing, with the European champion admitting it was the perfect distraction after her individual disappointments last week.
The 28-year-old Scot, who was sixth in the 400m hurdles, was swapped to the third leg for the final as Christine Ohuruogu was subbed in for Scottish prospect Kirsten McAslan. And the gamble paid off as Seren Bundy-Davies followed Child with a storming anchor run to steer the Brits to third place in 3:23.62 with Jamaica surging from behind to pip the United States for gold.
“It wasn’t a great champs for me individually,” Child said. “But to come with the girls, they pick you up. After a few bad races, they’re the best to be around after that. And it’s great to get another chance to come out here. The third leg is a bit out of my comfort zone but I went out there and did the best I could. Thankfully, we’ve come away with a medal.”
The medal was also a welcome boost at the end of a frustrating championships for the relay team’s oldest member.
A poorly-run final not only saw Ohuruogu lose the individual 400m world crown but cross last, making the final-night success taste all the sweeter.
“I probably didn’t make the best judgement call (in the individual 400m), which is unusual because I’m usually very good at judging races,” she said.
“It’s the first time in ten years I’ve made such a fatal error and it cost me big time. This time around I was a bit worried because it wasn’t just me on the line, it was everyone else’s performance. If you mess up, you put pressure on the rest of the girls. I knew we could win a medal, I just thought ‘run [your] own race and get the girls in contention’.”
Britain celebrated double relay joy when the men’s team also secured 4x400 metres relay bronze.
Having seen Ohuruogu, Anyika Onuora, Child and Bundy-Davies impressively secure bronze, the reigning European men’s champions followed suit at the Bird’s Nest just 20 minutes later.
Rabah Yousif, Delano Williams and Jarryd Dunn got Great Britain off to a fine start, with team captain Martyn Rooney anchoring them home in style just ahead of Jamaica in two minutes 58.51 seconds – a great way to celebrate this week’s birth of his first child.
The past nine days in Beijing have looked very promising a year out from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with a seven-medal haul complemented by national records and personal bests aplenty.
Britain finished fourth in the medal table after winning four golds, but it was not until the final day of competition that they met UK Sport’s minimum target of six medals with the double relay bronze.
Rooney’s wonderful surge and dip saw Jamaica pipped by just four-thousandths of a second, with the podium finish capping a remarkable time for the 28-year-old on and off the track. “It has been an incredible week for me,” Rooney said after the season’s best two minutes 58.51 seconds.
“These have been eight days where I’ve had a PB, not a great semi-final and the birth of my child.
“The relay heats went well and then in the relay final we ran well as a team and got a medal. It’s incredible.”
It was certainly a leader’s display from Rooney and one which led wife Kate, a former international pole vaulter, to joke their baby boy would now be called ‘Bronze Beijing Rooney’.
“I’m desperate to get home now, desperate,” he said, before playing a part in the closing ceremony. “I don’t know it as my son yet, it’s still ‘it’. I’ve seen pictures of ‘it’ but I can’t wait to meet him and hold him. I’ll name him when I get back.
“I can’t stop talking to Kate on the phone. I keep checking on her and checking on the baby, but she’s doing really, really well.
“She went to Tesco the next day so she surprises me every day. She’s an amazing woman and I’m very lucky to have her as my wife and the mother of this child.”
Only two other British athletes were involved on the final evening of competition. Charlie Grice’s time of 3:36.21 saw him come home ninth in the men’s 1500m final, while Steph Twell finished 12th in the 5,000m.
Commonwealth medallist Twell was left to wonder if she had been too conservative in bowing out of the fight for medals. Almaz Ayana sped to victory to lead home an Ethiopian sweep of the podium with Twell exactly one minute behind. However, after fighting back from long-term injury, the 26-year-old will turn her mind to Rio 2016 with ambitions raised.
“There was a point that I thought I should have gone with the Kenyans, but then to be in the final, now I know what I need to step up to in future,” Twell said.
“It’s been brilliant being back on the team – this has always been my motivation. Every training session, you think about it, being on this stage and the crowd out there, putting on the GB kit – you want to be the best in the country and be mixing it with the best. And to do so you have to race regularly and now I’m here.”