Athletics

Hughes, Asher-Smith seal historic sprint double for Britain

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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Berlin , Germany (AFP) — Zharnel Hughes and Dina Asher-Smith claimed a historic European sprint double for Britain yesterday as they won the men and women's 100 metres at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Hughes, allowed to compete for Britain as he was born in Anguilla, a tiny British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean not recognised by the International Olympic Committee, clocked a championship record of 9.95 seconds to edge compatriot Reece Prescod by one-hundredth.

Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt, whose former coach Glen Mills is now working with Hughes, tweeted: “Congrats to my @racerstrack teammate @zharnel_hughes on winning the 100m @EuroAthletics.”

The victory by Hughes came fast on the heels of that by Asher-Smith, who led from gun to tape for a dominant win in 10.85 seconds.

Asher-Smith's victory was the first by a British woman in the European 100m since Dorothy Hyman in Belgrade in 1962. And it was the first time Britain had claimed the two blue riband titles at the same Euro championships.

“I came here to be European champion, so I'm happy to have achieved that,” said Asher-Smith, who is targeting a sprint treble.

“One race down; let's see what happens next in the 200m!”

Hughes, 23, ran 9.91sec this year to establish himself as the joint second-fastest British sprinter (with James Dasaolu) after Linford Christie.

Not only trained in Jamaica, Hughes' running style is very reminiscent of that of Bolt's. Accelerating from the blocks, he gradually unfolded his towering 1.92m (6ft 4in) frame, his head coming up and body hitting the famed drive phase almost exactly like Bolt.

“It was a great day for Great Britain winning two golds and one silver in sprints,” said the 23-year-old Hughes.

“It is the good way towards the Olympics if I stay healthy. Usain Bolt did what he did at this stadium (setting 100 and 200m world records when winning world titles in 2009). I did the championships record and I am happy for that.”

With only six of the 24 semi-finalists having even gone below the 10-sec barrier, Hughes was handed a free card when in-form Jimmy Vicaut pulled out of the final with a hamstring strain, the Frenchman having set a then-record 9.97sec in winning his semi-final to better Portuguese Francis Obikwelu's 2006 gold medal-winning time of 9.99.

In the field, Wojciech Nowicki beat three-time world champion Pawel Fajdek for a one-two for Poland in the men's hammer throw.

Nowicki, thrice a bronze medallist in the last three major championships, managed a best of 80.12m, with Fajdek way off with 78.69 and Hungary's Bence Halasz taking bronze (77.36).

“I always used to be third so this is the breaking point!” joked Nowicki.

And the strong Polish team also scored a one-two in the men's shot put to put paid to home hero David Storl's chances of a fourth successive European title.

Michal Haratyk went out to a best of 21.72m for gold ahead of teammate Konrad Bukowiecki (21.66), Storl content with bronze (21.41).

The men's 10,000m was claimed by France's Mourad Amdouni, winning in 28:11.22 minutes in just his second- ever race over the distance.

The race was run at 8:20 pm local time with temperatures still above 32 degrees Centigrade (90F), forcing organisers to hurriedly set up some water stations.

Somali-born Belgian Bashir Abdi claimed silver, while Ethiopian-born Italian Yemaneberhan Crippa took bronze. Turkey's two Kenyan-born runners Polat Kemboi Arikan and Ali Kaya, defending gold and silver medallists, dropped out of the race in the stifling conditions.

Amdouni's victory at least went some way in making up not only for Vicaut's injury, but also Kevin Mayer's long jump disaster in the decathlon.

World champion Mayer, touted to be in the shape capable of breaking Ashton Eaton's world record, recorded three foul jumps in the second of the 10-discipline event to put an abrupt end to his hopes of getting close to the record or adding the European title to his world one.

“This is a black day for me,” said Mayer. “I do not have an excuse.”

It will now be Britain's Tim Duckworth, on 4,380 points, who goes into the second day of the decathlon today in the lead, 95 ahead of German Arthur Abele.

The first gold medals of the European champs, which run until Sunday, went to Ukraine's Maryan Zakalnytskyy and Portuguese veteran Ines Henriques, who claimed victories in the men and women's 50km race walks, respectively.

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