UKA performance director believes the hamstring tear keeping the world-leading sprinter from competing at Sopot is no huge cause for concern
With James Dasaolu out injured, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team will be missing what would have been one of its biggest gold medal contenders at next month’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland.
But UK Athletics performance director Neil Black describes it as a “minor problem” and is looking long term.
Dasaolu clocked a world-leading 6.47 in his heat at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday before running 6.50 to win the final despite clutching his leg as he approached the finish line. Scans have since revealed what UKA describe as a “minor tear” to his left hamstring, which will prevent him from competing in Sopot at the only global championship of the year from March 7-9.
“It’s a minor problem, we’ve discussed it, it’s just not worth taking the risk on that journey towards 2016 and 2017,” said Black, referring to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the World Championships in London a year later. “He’ll be back training soon,” he added.
Dasaolu’s latest injury will do nothing to improve his reputation as being physically fragile. But the 26-year-old, who last year became the second fastest Briton ever over 100m in clocking 9.91 at the British championships before he pulled out of the final, says he doesn’t want to take any risks in what he calls a “big year”.
“I will now concentrate on being 100% fit for the outdoor competitions,” said the European indoor 60m silver medallist, who earlier this year said he wanted to win a medal in each of the championships he prepares for in 2014, including the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the European Championships in Zurich.
But his absence from Poland next month will come as a blow, particularly as Black believes the Steve Fudge-coached athlete was capable of going even quicker.
“I think it was quite clear that he was on target to run fast. Low 6.40s I think were on the cards,” said Black.
“He feels stronger, faster, fitter and so of course he is disappointed. It’s a bit of a blow, but he is thinking without question now forwards to the summer this year and then ultimately it is about Rio 2016 and London 2017.
“He’s really confident, he’s really clear about his progression and he just wants to be on the track to demonstrate his abilities to run fast.”
On whether he is concerned over Dasaolu’s possible fragility, he added: “We’re not worried at all. What we see is the progression within training, the improved ability to recover, the quality of racing increasing so there’s no concern at all.
“It’s all forward progression, this is a little blow, a little kick in the teeth, he’ll pick himself up, he’ll refocus on to the summer.”
Dasaolu’s absence means that the three fastest men over 60m in the world this year will all be missing from Sopot, with Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut not due to compete indoors any more this season and Cuba’s Yunier Perez also out with injury.
Britain’s hopes for a men’s 60m medal now rest on former world indoor champion Dwain Chambers, who won silver behind Dasaolu at the world indoor trials in Sheffield, and Richard Kilty, the UK indoor bronze medallist.
“We’re not foolish enough to hang medals around their neck but we know that they are going to run fast and we know that they are going to be competitive,” Black said of the British pair.
“You certainly can’t count them out.”