British sprinter intends to underline his championship credentials with a 100m win Berlin
Reece Prescod might sit as third-favourite to win the men’s European 100m title, but the 22-year-old has a habit of producing the goods when it comes to championship racing and he plans to do so again in Berlin.
Prescod was the only Briton to reach last year’s world final in London and, for the past two years, has taken the national crown at the Birmingham trials.
Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut and Prescod’s team-mate Zharnel Hughes currently top the rankings, both having run 9.91 this year. Prescod’s best thus far is 10.04 but the significance of his 9.88, one marginally illegal due to the prevailing wind, in Eugene back in May should not be understated. Neither should his Diamond League win in Shanghai against a top-class field during the same month.
Finishing first is all that is on Prescod’s mind in the Olympic Stadium, too, inspired by the tales of Jesse Owens he studied during history class back in school and memories of watching Usain Bolt’s world record performances in the historic arena on television.
“I tend to perform on the big occasions and, touch wood, every one has gone really well,” he says. “My Diamond League performances have been good, the World Champs last year were obviously good. The two (British) Champs were good. In terms of actually putting down performances when it matters I’ve always been one to do that. I wouldn’t expect any less of myself going into this championships. It’s just continuing that form.
“I don’t really see it as the European Champs. I just see it as I’ve got two races to do, to perform to the best of my ability.”
Prescod admits the European contest will be a very different scenario to what he has tackled for much of the year.
“I’ve been around the world’s fastest starters, (Christian) Coleman and Su (Bingtian),” he adds. “I’m not going to have that scary…someone 10-20 metres in front of me at the start of the race. They’re going to be a lot closer.
“And obviously I finish quite strong so it’s a less of a challenge whereas when I race the American guys or the fast 60m guys I know in my head if I don’t go I’m not going to stand a chance. It’s a different ball game.
“I feel like here at Europe the competition is still going to be a very high level, but it’s different from the world stage. I feel it’s a stepping stone to what I want to do.
“As much as it is going well there is so much to do. I don’t wake up to be the best in Europe. What drives me to train is to be world champion, to be the best. I know what I am here for and I have to do it and move on.”
Whether or not Linford Christie’s 25-year-old British record mark of 9.87 can be broken is a question which has been put to the country’s top sprinters many times this year. With temperatures soaring in the German capital and a fast track awaiting, Prescod won’t rule it out.
“You’d hope,” he says. “When I ran 9.88 in Prefontaine it didn’t feel that hard – the sun was out, the right guys were in the race. I just hope the guys can bring the right intensity to the race because that is always a good thing.
“With the 100, if you have really good starters and good finishers, if everyone does their job, your best race will come out. If you have guys who finish strong, but if you don’t have that many starters, I haven’t been set up at the speed I should be. When I race smaller guys, the first half of the race they set it up really well and if I catch on to them, it just works well. I use it to my advantage. In an ideal world it would come but you don’t know.”
Prescod’s official personal best is 10.03 but he does, of course, have considerably loftier ambitions and is confident that, when he officially breaks through that 10-second barrier, the floodgates will open.
“People have said to me that when it comes, it’s going to come sweet,” he adds. “In an ideal world it would just come in a championships but we don’t know what’s going to happen. I definitely feel like, when I get it, it’s going to be a really good run. Once I’ve tapped into it, once my body knows how to do something, it just does it again and again and again.
“I definitely feel like when I’ve tapped into that 9.90/sub-10, my body will just get used to it.”
It will be fascinating to see whether the bookies have got it right for Berlin and Prescod chuckles when he’s reminded that it has been some time since he was beaten by a fellow Briton. You have to go back to the Diamond League meeting in Oslo last year, in fact, where he came in behind Ujah and Adam Gemili.
“People forget that sometimes,” he grins. “They say, ‘Oh yeah, he’s not the favourite any more’. People remember me then forget me, remember me then forget me.”
If Prescod’s performance matches his confidence levels, you suspect he won’t be forgotten again in a hurry.