Zoey Clark’s 4x400 bronze medal drama is relay tough to take

From left to right, British quartet Emily Diamond, Laviai Nielsen, Zoey Clark and Jodie Williams were pleased with a time of 3:23.02. Picture: AFP/Getty
From left to right, British quartet Emily Diamond, Laviai Nielsen, Zoey Clark and Jodie Williams were pleased with a time of 3:23.02. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Zoey Clark was dragged through the emotional wringer on the final evening of the World Championships in Doha as the British team celebrated bronze in the women’s 4x400 metres relay but then had it taken away.

The Aberdonian, along with Jodie Williams, Emily Diamond and Laviai Nielsen, originally came fourth in 3:23.02, with the USA bolting clear of Poland and Jamaica.

After the race it was alleged that the Jamaicans had infringed the changeover rules. The scrutineers agreed and bumped the British girls up to third, then reversed their opinion. Clark, hence, returns home today empty-handed.

“Fourth is definitely the worst place to come,” she said. “That’s very frustrating. But that’s the fastest time our team has run in years. It’s bittersweet because we did up our game. It’s faster than at the 2016 Olympics. It’s faster than at the last worlds in London. We got medals at that so it’s awful.”

It marooned GB&NI’s medal total in Qatar at five, below the established target, enough for sixth in a final table topped by the USA. Fewer finalists, too, than two years ago in London. Not the momentum desired ahead of an Olympic campaign.

“There’s a lot to feel really, really positive about,” spun UK Athletics performance director Neil Black, whose support for now-disgraced coach Alberto Salazar might yet cost him his job. “But the reality is the medal tally is not that which we would have wanted and expected. It could be better,
it should be better.”

Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr came maddeningly close to adding to the medal haul in yesterday’s men’s 1,500m final, the Edinburgh club-mates 
finishing fifth and sixth. Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot breezed to victory in 3:29.26.

Two seconds adrift was Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, the 2012 Olympic champion, with Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski holding off the Caledonian comrades to secure third.

Wightman, pictured inset, had the consolation of usurping Chris O’Hare’s existing Scottish record as he lunged over the line in 3:31.87. Kerr was a little disappointed despite a personal best of 3:32.52, while their Glaswegian cohort Neil Gourley was exhausted in 11th.

“I was just holding and hoping they were going to come back to me a tiny bit,” Wightman admitted. “But it wasn’t enough. Someone like Marcin who has such finishing speed, to be able to finish that quick when the pace is like that, that’s what I hope to be able to do in the years to come.”

For Kerr, a bright prospect at just 21, it felt like a chance squandered. He said: “If you’d asked ‘do you want to do that at a championships? Do you think that will medal?’ I’d have said ‘hell, yeah’. I’m not disappointed in how I performed.”

Germany’s Malalika Mihambo was golden in the women’s long jump with a best of 7.30m, with Abigail Irozuru the leading Briton in seventh. Nia Ali held off Kendra Harrison in an American 1-2 in the 100m hurdles, while Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei seized the men’s 10,000m title in 26:48.36.