IT IS a measure of how high Eilidh Child has set her personal bar that there was a deep sense of deflation when she walked away from the world 400 metres hurdles final in sixth place yesterday.
Hers was a brutal but accurate analysis. When the European champion required smoothness, she was plagued by a stutter here and a vacillation there. Her time of 54.78 seconds was not far off her lifetime best but not quite what was required.
A chance missed, the 28-year-old reflected as she was left to watch Czech rival Zuzana Hejnova become the first woman to retain this title. Halfway through the race, Child was within reach but an untidy approach to the seventh hurdle effectively killed her momentum stone dead.
Hejnova coasted clear in 53.50sec with the USA’s Shamier Little and Cassandra Tate collecting silver and bronze. “I was bit messy over the hurdles,” Child said. “It was great to be in the final but I think I’ve let myself down a bit.”
The grand plan concocted by her hurdling coach Malcolm Arnold was to maximise the profits from Child’s enhanced speed by tweaking her leaping technique. All season long, it has been a work in progress. It remains undoubtedly so, to her frustration.
“I’m perhaps not making the right decisions,” she admitted. “I feel like I should be amongst the medals or at least closer and I just feel like I’m throwing these opportunities away. This has been quite a difficult year. It’s been a transition year with a new stride pattern and I wanted to have nailed it before I got here.
“But I hadn’t really done that and I’d been deciding which way to go. I just don’t think I’m quite decisive enough racing, so hopefully next year I’ll be a bit quicker and make that stride pattern a bit more consistent.”
If she can iron out the kinks by Rio 2016, a medal will remain within reach. First, she will get an opportunity for some redemption in the 4x400m relay this weekend. “I’ll take this as motivation into the winter and hopefully I can do something at the Olympics next year,” she added. Meanwhile, Lynsey Sharp senses she can grasp the opportunity for a medal after cruising into today’s 800m semi-finals. There has been a gradual and deliberate build-up from the 2012 European champion who has schemed with her American coach Terrence Mahon in a bid to become stronger and faster than ever before.
The portents look promising. Sharp produced the third-quickest run of her career in her heat yesterday to finish second behind Marina Arzamasova of Belarus with a time of 1:58.98. She may need a similar response this afternoon to overcome a draw that also includes Commonwealth Games winner Eunice Sum, 1500m bronze medallist Sifan Hassan, plus Arzamasova again.
“I’ve just been sitting, waiting and watching everyone else compete, so it was just nice to get out on to the track eventually,” said the 25-year-old, whose GB&NI team-mates Jenny Meadows and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke also went through.
“I knew being the first heat, it would be fast and I just had to cover any moves anyone made,” she said. “I knew there were a couple of girls who would take it out hard, so I just covered everything, and felt good.
“I know I am in the best shape of my life so I have to get the job done first to make the final, and then once I’m in the final anything can happen.”
Mo Farah recovered from a last-lap trip to keep his tilt at another long-distance double alive.
Three days on from taking the 10,000m crown, the 32-year-old began his bid to retain the world 5,000m title. Like Sunday, though, there was a heart-in-mouth moment as Farah almost hit the deck after a tangle of legs around the final bend, only to regain his balance and finish in 13 minutes 19.44 seconds, 0.06secs.
It was enough to see the Briton qualify behind Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha, keeping his hopes alive of a record-breaking third successive long-distance double at major global championships.
“I nearly went down – again,” Farah said. “I hope it doesn’t become third time bad luck.
“Somebody caught my leg. I’ve got a long stride, it’s the way I run.
“I don’t blame anyone, but even in training sometimes my training partners catch my leg which is why I sometimes have to be on the front or the back, or stay on the outside.”
British team-mate Tom Farrell and American training partner Galen Rupp will join Farah on Sunday, by which point the British medal haul may have been boosted by the exciting crop of young sprinters.
Teenager Dina Asher-Smith spearheads the women’s charge and laid down the gauntlet yesterday, setting a new 200m personal best in the heats.
A month after becoming the first British woman to dip under 11 seconds over half that distance, the 19-year-old crossed the line in 22.22 secs despite clearly easing up towards the end.
A season’s best from Bianca Williams and a solid run from Margaret Adeoye means it will be a three-pronged British attack in the 200m semi-finals.