Eilidh Doyle enjoyed the perfect end to her team captaincy as she helped a Great Britain quartet, which was 50 per cent Scottish, to a fantastic silver medal in the women’s 4x400m relay on the last night of action at the IAAF World Championships in London.
Aberdeen’s Zoey Clark led the Brits off and struggled a bit after what has been a tiring week for the 22-year-old but she kept her cool in the face of the expected super-charged start by the invincible Americans immediately to her left and handed over to Laviai Nielsen in a decent position.
Following Saturday’s semi-finals at least a bronze looked there for the taking but that all changed early in the second leg when Jamaica’s nightmare championships continued as Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby pulled up.
Doyle produced a real skipper’s dig in the third to establish GB firmly in second despite fading a bit towards the end.
Emily Diamond nailed the anchor leg from that awkward target position ahead of the chasing pack and held off Poland as the Americans surged to gold by an incredible six seconds, giving Allyson Felix her 11th world gold, the same as Usain Bolt, although her total medal haul is 16 to the Jamaican’s 14.
For Doyle it was a second world championship relay silver after the bronze won at Moscow in 2013 was recently upgraded to a silver due to the Russians being stripped of their medal for doping offences. She and Diamond were also in the GB team which took bronze at the Rio Olympics last year.
“It’s nice to get the medal on the night and have it as the correct colour this time. I’m over the moon,” said Doyle.
The 30-year-old from Perth achieved her pre-championship aim of reaching the final of her individual event, the 400m hurdles, though she was disappointed to finish last in that last Thursday. The relay joy brought the smile back for the Scot, who was voted by her team-mates to lead them here in London.
Meanwhile, the wait for an individual Scottish medallist to join Liz McColgan at world championship level goes on as the four finalists all fell short last night.
Laura Muir delivered the best performance as she produced a late fightback to place sixth in a high-class women’s 5,000m final. Eilish McColgan was a creditable tenth. There was disappointment at middle distance as both Chris O’Hare in the men’s 1,500m and Lynsey Sharp in the women’s 800m both finished last.
It was expected that Olympic silver medallist and world leader Hellen Obiri of Kenya and 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia would dominate the race but, perhaps, not by how much they eventually did.
In the closing stages, Muir clawed herself closer and charged impressively in the last couple of laps but further ahead it was Obiri who made the decisive surge for gold in 14:34.86, with Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands winning the battle for bronze behind the Ethiopian.
Muir came in at 14:52.07, her best time over the distance outdoors, while McColgan posted an excellent 15:00.43, just five hundredths of a second outside the big personal best she set in the semi-final.
“It was always going to be Obiri and Ayana,” said Muir. “When they went I knew not to panic too much. I think I raced it really well, and I’m happy with how it went as a final.”
After finishing fourth in the 1,500m, the 24-year-old will now look to use this experience as a platform to push on to what many predict will be major medals in the future.
“I knew I had a lot of rounds in my legs so I had to pace myself and stay strong,” she said. “I think I showed that over the last lap. To finish in the way I did makes me really happy. The African girls are so strong so I am pleased with how I ran.
“There are lots of positives. In my heat I was a bit tired but I showed I could come back and I raced well today in the final, which is what really mattered.
“I was so close to the medals finishing fourth and sixth in the finals. Five races in ten days is a lot so I think I can take a lot of positives. Going forward I believe there is a lot I can do competing at the two events..”
McColgan added: “It was totally different to what I expected it to be, I thought it would be fast from the start and we’d all be hanging on, but we were practically walking those first couple of laps.
“It’s a shock to the system when you go from walking then into a fast pace, and I think that’s definitely something I need to get used to doing. But I can’t really be too disheartened as it’s been two 15 minute runs in the space of three days. My last three races have been worlds apart from where I’ve been competing for the last five years so, it’s exciting, it’s definitely progress.”
There was frustration for both O’Hare and Sharp as they couldn’t get into the medal mix in their respective finals and both trailed in.
There was a Kenyan 1-2 in the 1,500m as Elijah Manangoi took gold and Timoth Cheruiyot the silver ahead of Filip Ingebritsen of Norway.
Favourite Caster Semenya of South Africa won the women’s 800m in a blistering 1:55.16, with Francince Niyonsaba of Burundi taking silver and Ajee Wilson of the USA bronze. O’Hare said: “That third lap was just horrible for me and I was stuck in a horrible cadence, a horrible tempo. It was just rubbish.”