A disastrous Olympic Games for Team GB’s sprinters became even worse on Tuesday as Adam Gemili tore a hamstring on the warm-up track – and then took nearly two minutes to hobble around his 200m heat.
With Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake also failing to get out of his 200m heat it meant the litany of woes – which has included Zharnel Hughes false‑starting in the 100m final – continued.
With Dina Asher-Smith, who was strongly fancied to win a 100m and 200m medal, also tearing a hamstring five weeks before the Tokyo Games, it has not been the Olympics the UK Athletics head coach, Christian Malcolm, would have envisaged in his worst nightmares.
Asher-Smith bravely recovered to reach the 100m semi-finals in Tokyo before withdrawing from the 200m, and could yet win a women’s 4x100m relay medal, but Gemili’s absence will hit the men’s 4x100m team hard.
Speaking after hobbling across the line in 1min 58.18 sec, having pulled up a few strides out of the blocks, Gemili said he had injured his hamstring on the last run before he entered the call room. “On the last blocks start I literally felt it go,” he said. “I had to try but I’m in so much pain right now – I said to my physio: ‘Just strap it up and let me at least try to push out,’ but I can tell straight away. You don’t just cramp up when you sprint so it was a tear. I can’t believe this has happened.”
Mitchell-Blake, who did not make the semi-finals after running 20.56, said he would “ask for more from myself in the future”.
“It was a season’s best time, but you have to take that with a grain of salt and understand that I am moving forwards, just a little slower than I want to. Adam unfortunately pulled up and we have to console him and keep his mind in the game because he is an important member of the group,” he said.
There was better news for Britain as all three men qualified for Thursday’s 1500m semi-finals. But while Jake Heywood and Jake Wightman did so comfortably Josh Kerr – who is seen as a dark horse for a medal in the British camp – had to rely on a fastest‑losers spot. Jodie Williams also looked impressive as she qualified for the 400m semi-finals by winning her heat in 50.99sec.