PUNCHING the track in frustration, Chris O’Hare was his fiercest critic as his world championship hopes were brutally extinguished when he exited the 1,500 metres at the semi-final stage in Beijing.
With a slow pace imposed, the double European medallist appeared poised to pursue reigning champion Asbel Kiprop with one lap to go. Instead, he saw his challenge dissolve on the home straight as he faded to seventh place in a time of 3:44.36, well outside the personal best he set just a few weeks ago.
“I felt good at the bell,” said the Scot. “I just wanted to jump in behind Kiprop and thought: ‘this is perfect, sit on it’. I felt fine with 100 metres to go. I thought: ‘just keep it going’.
“The last 50 was rubbish. I’m really, really disappointed. I wanted to do a lot better than that for my family, sponsors all that and everyone back home. It’s horrible to come here and run like a donkey.”
It was left to team-mate Charlie Grice to ensure a British presence in tomorrow’s final with the UK champion tactically astute in progressing in fourth place from the other semi-final with race winner, Elijah Manangoi, the quickest qualifier through.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment all year since I fell at the Europeans,” Grice declared.
“I wanted to seize the opportunity I had today to make the final, and I’m just glad I did. I’ll go into the final with an open mind and stay out of trouble for the first half and put myself in a good position like I did here.”
Reaching tomorrow’s 5,000m final is already ample reward for Steph Twell’s efforts in withstanding the traumas of a prolonged fightback from long-term injury but the Commonwealth medallist feels inspired to use her top-class comeback as a springboard towards Rio.
The 26-year-old has already surpassed her previous world appearance from losing out in the heats in Berlin in 2009. However the Scotland international admits earning a return to the Bird’s Nest, seven years after her Olympic debut, has been a major boon.
“I had that mindset of living up to this and knowing this is where I want to be,” she said.
“So coming back is fantastic because I know I’ve made it after the journey I’ve been on and I’m really proud.”