Dasaolu dazzles with 9.91

British sprinter demolishes 10-second barrier for 100m on second day of Sainsbury’s British Championships

James Dasaolu (Mark Shearman)

Dwain Chambers won the UK 100m title in 10.04, but the name on everyone’s lips was James Dasaolu after he scorched to a blistering 9.91 in his semi-final.

Only one Briton has ever run quicker – Linford Christie with 9.87 – as Dasaolu took advantage of beautiful conditions on the hottest day of the year in Birmingham. He was helped by a tailwind of 1.1m/sec as he smashed through the 10-second barrier, although athletes in the final later enjoyed an even more favourable wind of 1.9m/sec.

After feeling a touch of cramp after his 9.91 semi, Dasaolu chose to sit out the final. In his absence, Chambers took advantage to win gold, while Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Andrew Robertson ran PBs of 10.08 and 10.14 for silver and bronze.

Dasalou said: “I didn’t want to let anybody down and I was looking forward to taking my first British Championships 100m title. My ultimate aim is to be fit for Moscow and I didn’t want to risk an injury competing in the final.”

With his time of 9.91, though, it means Dasaolu has risen from potential finalist at major championships to an actual global medal contender. At the Olympics last year he was seventh in his semi-final but his time in Birmingham this weekend puts him to No.4 on the world lists for 2013.

He puts his recent improvement down to staying injury free in the past 18 months under the guidance of coach Steve Fudge in Loughborough. There, he has focused on quality training, improving his technique and injury prevention.

Dasaolu is also a late starter. Born in London to Nigerian parents, he did not start sprinting seriously under he was 18 and began a leisure management degree at the East Midlands university.

The 25-year-old’s talent has been simmering away in the background in recent years, but he jumped into the spotlight in March this year when he won silver in the 60m at the European Indoor Championships. And now, after improving from 10.03 at the Birmingham Diamond League a fortnight ago to 9.91 this weekend at the same venue, he looks set for even greater things, possibly in Moscow next month.

“I finally got that sub-10 clocking and I didn’t just dip under 10,” he said. “I was so happy that I went 9.91, almost challenging the 9.80s. Both me and my coach are happy, on the hottest day of the year, conditions were good and we got the sub-10 clocking.

“I knew if conditions were okay and if I executed my race I would run a PB. I think I’ve run a PB in my last three races, so I’m an athlete on the up and I’m really happy.”

Chambers was also not far off the 10-second barrier and said: “I tried so hard (to dip under 10 seconds) this weekend. But I had to be sensible and do the logical thing and qualify. It’s fantastic that James has been able to do that time. It’s helped motivate me even further to want to run. It also bodes well for our relays.”

Two weeks earlier at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, Rhys Williams had beaten Dai Greene by more than half a second in the 400m hurdles as the 2011 world champion struggled with what turned out to be a virus. With the British title at stake, though, Greene was back to his best with a 48.66 victory as Williams ran a 48.85 PB in second.

Racing at 2pm on the hottest day of the year, Greene went off hard and held the lead at halfway as Williams, on his inside, tried to run him down. Into the home straight and Williams looked like he had the better momentum and almost drew level with Greene, but Greene held his form superbly to the line.

“It was nice to come out here and take the victory,” said Greene. “I’m really pleased. I’ve had a tough few weeks by my high standards so nice to run a season’s best.

“I think I’ll put up a strong defence in Moscow. I’ve got a few weeks to work on a few things. It seems to be coming together and I’m looking forward to the next few races to really test myself.”

Other highlights at the Alexander Stadium on Saturday included Asha Philip racing to an 11.20 PB and World Championship ‘A’ standard into a slight headwind of 0.3m/sec. In the 100m hurdles, Tiffany Porter also took advantage of the great conditions to clock 12.68 (0.6).

In the field, Chris Tomlinson won the long jump with 8.03m as Luke Cutts won the pole vault with a personal best clearance of 5.65m. In the women’s 800m, there was a shock when in-form Marilyn Okoro beat Jess Judd convincingly. Okoro followed teenage sensation Judd through the bell in 61 seconds but kicked hard with 200m to go and with a 58.6 last lap won by more than two seconds in 2:00.60.

» The July 18 issue of Athletics Weekly will contain in-depth event-by-event reports from the Sainsbury’s British Championships, with dozens of photographs and full results

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