Sprinter forms part of a strong British team at the European Championships in Berlin and says no one wants to get left behind
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake believes Britain’s strength across the board will show at the European Championships in Berlin and that a clean sweep of 100m and 200m medals is not out of the question.
The 24-year-old anchored the GB 4x100m quartet to world gold in London last summer and is joined by relay team-mates Adam Gemili and Chijindu Ujah in Germany, with Gemili and Delano Williams joining Mitchell-Blake in racing the 200m, and Ujah contesting the 100m along with Zharnel Hughes and Reece Prescod.
Hughes and France’s Jimmy Vicaut are joint European leaders with their times of 9.91, while Prescod is the British champion and ran a wind-aided 9.88 in May as well as a winning 10.04 in Shanghai earlier that month.
In the 200m, Mitchell-Blake and Gemili both have sub-20 second PBs from 2016 but Turkey’s world champion Ramil Guliyev leads this year’s rankings with his 19.90 ahead of Spain’s defending champion Bruno Hortelano with 20.04.
Britain’s women are led by national record-holder Dina Asher-Smith, who is the European No.1 in both the 100m and 200m, and the nation’s 4x100m relay teams both impressed at the Anniversary Games last month, the men running a world-leading 37.61 for GB’s second quickest-ever time and the women clocking 42.36.
“I know individually we all want to win our event but that’s not possible,” says Mitchell-Blake. “There’s a good competitive nature and I believe that’s what spurs this golden generation on, to see that it is do-able. Other people are running fast and no one wants to get left behind.
“There’s no reason why we can’t get 1-2-3 across the board. We’ve got a great set of athletes right now, not just in the sprints, and can definitely bring home some medals.
“It’s one of the strongest teams that we’ve ever taken to a Europeans,” adds the world 200m fourth-placer. “There’s a lot of young talent and some experienced ones too. Not just for sprinting but in the middle-distance – 800m guys going 1:44, the likes of Laura Muir in the 1500m, Laura Weightman in the 5km, the throws, the jumps.
“I think all in all it should be one of our most, if not our most, successful European Championships ever.”
Mitchell-Blake admits that it has taken him a bit longer this season to really find his form as he adjusts to life as a full-time athlete after graduating from Louisiana State University and a busy race schedule last year.
But the British 200m champion feels he is peaking at just the right time as he bids to add a senior European title to the gold he claimed as a junior in Italy five years ago.
“I am used to running really, really quick, really, really early but that hasn’t been the case this year,” says the Newham & Essex Beagles sprinter, who is still based in the US with coach Dennis Shaver. “But I feel I am coming into form at the right time, for when it really matters.
“That was my first international medal,” he adds, looking back to his 2013 European under-20 title. “It was an inspiration to me because it gave me a taste of winning on the international stage and winning is addictive.
“I have to vie for a spot in the final first. Once there, I’m definitely vying for gold.”