Great Britain enjoyed a record-breaking night at the World Championships as Shara Proctor leapt over seven metres en route to long jump silver and Dina Asher-Smith became the world’s fastest-ever teenager over 200 metres.
The seventh day at the Bird’s Nest always looked like it could be a memorable one for the British team and it did not disappoint. Proctor added to Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford’s gold medals with a wonderful display in the long jump, jumping over seven metres for the first and second time in her career to become the first Briton to achieve that feat. The best of those efforts came in the third round and that 7.07 metres leap looked good enough for gold, only for Tianna Bartoletta to manage a world-leading 7.14m with her last attempt.
“I don’t know what to feel, I’m speechless but I’m happy most of all,” Proctor said, having extended her own national record by nine centimetres. “It’s my fifth champs, I finally got on the podium. It’s a silver medal but I still feel like a winner. It’s been a long ride. I was on crutches last year at this time (for four weeks after a quadricep injury at the Commonwealth Games). I had to learn to walk, I had to learn to run and today I just threw it all together and finally executed. “
British team-mates Lorraine Ugen and Katarina Johnson-Thompson came fifth and 11th, respectively, in a long jump final which ended just before Asher-Smith set a third 200m personal best in as many days. It was yet another remarkable display from the 19-year-old history student, whose time of 22.07 seconds saw her finish fifth and break Kathy Cook’s 31-year-old British record by three hundredths of a second.
Asher-Smith certainly looks in good shape a year out from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, underlined by the fact her time saw her usurp American great Allyson Felix as the quickest teenage 200m sprinter ever.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” she said. “I’ve run three PBs three days in a row and ended with a 22.07 which is also a British record, so I’m a really, really happy girl.
“But to be in a race when two of the girls were running 21.6, I was thinking ‘I know I’m really trying my best but they’re already gone so what on earth is the time going to be’.
“So when I crossed the line – if you see any pictures of me – I was just open mouthed because 21.6 one and two is absolutely amazing and VCB (Veronica Campbell-Brown) was running sub-22, all the medals sub-22. I’m flabbergasted, it’s absolutely amazing.”
Holland’s Dafne Schippers led home the 200m field in a championship record time of 21.63 – becoming the third fastest woman ever after Florence Griffith-Joyner and Marion Jones.
Griffith-Joyner, who died aged 38 in 1998, was dogged by allegations of doping, while Jones was disgraced and stripped of her Olympic medals after admitting to steroid use. It is the sort of company which will lead to unwanted questions, but Schippers said her performances could be trusted. “I’m a very happy with my time, at my moment,” the former heptathlete said. “I can’t believe it at this moment.
“I know I am clean and I know I work very hard for it.”
Danielle Williams of Jamaica produced a 12.57 personal best to secure 100m hurdles gold.
That was a time well within the reach of Tiffany Porter, but the American-born British athlete struggled to find her rhythm and could only cross the line in fifth. “I’m going to have to go back and look at the race,” she said. “I think I was in a good position, but I just didn’t really execute my last couple of hurdles and that’s what happens in terms of athletics.
“I’m just going to grow from this, you have to brush yourself off and do better next time and I will be back next year stronger.”
Aries Merritt secured a remarkable bronze medal in the men’s 110 metres hurdles, four days before he is due to undergo a kidney transplant. The Olympic champion and world-record holder clocked a season’s best 13.04 seconds as Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov took the title in 12.98secs.
The 30-year-old is due to receive a kidney from his sister, LaToya Hubbard, on Tuesday. “It means the world to me to be back here and to get a medal,” the American said. “I am happy to be here.”
Merritt was diagnosed with kidney disease, caused by a rare genetic disorder in 2013. When he checked into hospital in October of that year his kidney function was down to 15 per cent. It is still at less than 20 per cent, making his achievement at the Bird’s Nest one of the most remarkable of the championships.