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How are GB’s athletes shaping up for Tokyo 2020?


How are GB’s athletes shaping up for Tokyo 2020?

Great Britain’s men and women’s teams both won 4x100m silver in DohaFor many this World Championships was the stepping stone to next year’s Olympics – with only nine months before the athletes go again at Tokyo’s New National Stadium.Great Britain came away with seven track and field medals in Rio, a year after winning seven…

Great Britain's relay teams

Great Britain’s men and women’s teams both won 4x100m silver in Doha

For many this World Championships was the stepping stone to next year’s Olympics – with only nine months before the athletes go again at Tokyo’s New National Stadium.

Great Britain came away with seven track and field medals in Rio, a year after winning seven at the Beijing World Championships in 2015.

They left Doha with five medals in their luggage – two gold and three silver – and Colin Jackson believes British athletics is in “a very healthy state”.

“We have gold medallists here, we have finalists here, and that means that we’re punching with the rest of the world,” the former world 110m hurdles champion said.

So, with a little under 300 days to go until the Olympics begins, BBC Sport looks at Britain’s performance in Doha – is the same expected next year? Or could some of those near misses become podium finishes?

Asher-Smith faces tough competition in Tokyo

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Asher-Smith romps to a stunning win the women’s 200m final

Dina Asher-Smith led Britain’s charge in Qatar, delivering as many predicted with three medals. But could she be facing a tougher battle in the 200m in Tokyo than she saw in Doha?

Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who had the edge on the Briton during the Diamond League season, is hoping to do the 200m-400m double in Tokyo.

The schedule in Doha meant Miller-Uibo was made to choose between the two events – she picked the 400m and won silver. The current Olympic timetable is slightly more in her favour but she has requested a further amendment.

It is also unlikely that 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and other top rivals who withdrew from the 200m will do so again in Tokyo without very good reason.

And might Bahrain’s shock 400m world champion Salwa Eid Naser double up like Miller-Uibo? The 21-year-old had a few outings in the event this season and is maturing fast.

Medals for Asher-Smith in the 100m and 200m? Yes, probably. But the competition for gold will get that little bit tougher.

“There was a lot of pressure and expectation for Dina and for her to come and deliver that performance in the 200m, after already medalling in the 100m, was just great,” Jackson said.

“I know a lot of people would say ‘Oh, wasn’t it easier [given who wasn’t there]’ but no, it’s never easy to win a World Championship gold medal.”

Watch out KJT, because Thiam’s out for revenge

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Watch how Johnson-Thompson won heptathlon gold

When Katarina Johnson-Thompson sat down for a post-victory interview with BBC Sport, she was asked whether she now had edge over Nafissatou Thiam, who she dethroned to win the world heptathlon title.

It was a resounding “no”, with Johnson-Thompson adding: “I expect her to come back all guns blazing.”

The Belgian carried an elbow injury which meant she fell short in the shot put and javelin, while her long jump best was also down on the 6.86m she managed when she defeated the 26-year-old Briton in Birmingham this summer.

And watch out for 24-year-old bronze medallist Victoria Preiner of Austria, who could become a force if she improves her high jump and long jump.

But barring injury, frequent among multi-eventers, Johnson-Thompson is better than ever having recorded four PBs to win gold – will she get over 7,000 points for the first time?

It is likely to be another titanic battle between KJT and Thiam for the Tokyo title next year.

Farah will be back… probably

Mo Farah ran a European record two hours, five minutes and 11 seconds to win the Chicago Marathon in 2018

Think Arnie returning in Terminator or Stallone in Rambo because Mo Farah, Great Britain’s veteran athletics all-action hero, is set to put on that GB vest again for an assault on the Olympic marathon title.

The 36-year-old, a four-time Olympic champion, stepped away from track after London 2017 and began to concentrate on the marathon; and after winning the Great North Run he reiterated his desire to go for gold over 26 miles in Tokyo.

The first major step in his bid will be when he attempts to defend his Chicago Marathon title – his only victory over the distance – next week.

But arguably the top British male at the moment is Callum Hawkins, who came agonisingly close to a medal in Saturday’s marathon.

The Scot, fourth two years ago and who collapsed while leading at last year’s Commonwealth Games, proved again he is a big championships performer by the way he took on the favourites for the world title.

Gemili looking to break through the fourth wall

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‘I ran like such an amateur’ Gemili ‘heartbroken’ after missing 200m medal

Adam Gemili has got the pained expression down to a tee. He came agonisingly close to winning a 200m medal at Rio 2016 and once again he missed out by fractions in Doha.

The 25-year-old’s progression in recent seasons has been hampered by hamstring problems, but should he stay injury-free there are not many who could keep him off a podium place. Forget gold, though, because new world champion Noah Lyles is in another league.

Miguel Francis, 24, who ran 19.88 seconds before he switched allegiance from Antigua to Great Britain in 2015, is another prospect in the event. His Doha hopes were hit by injury.

Injured Reece Prescod, who missed the Worlds through injury, and finalist Zharnel Hughes have an outside chance in the 100m which is wide open behind champion Christian Coleman, who is likely to be the outstanding favourite next year.

The Scottish challenge

Laura Muir had not raced since July before arriving in Doha because of a calf problem

European 1500m champion Laura Muir will be hoping for better preparation than for Doha, having not raced for two months in the lead up.

The 26-year-old still managed to perform much better than expected as she came close to a new personal best in finishing fifth in the final. She says it bodes well for Tokyo, and not many would disagree.

Fellow Scots Neil Gourley, Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr reached the men’s final by showing great tactical nous in the earlier rounds, finishing 11th, fifth and sixth respectively.

“Mentally I was ready but physically I wasn’t quite there,” said Gourley of his 1500m final showing.

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“Getting to finals isn’t my aim in this sport – I am here to get medals.”

Other British medal hopes…

Seventh in Beijing, sixth in London and now fourth in Doha – pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw has proved she is a podium contender at Tokyo.

If Cumbrian Nick Miller can replicate his 80m-plus hammer throw at the 2018 Commonwealth Games then he will have a strong shout of a medal. Of course, it was argued his second throw in the Doha final – which looked over that mark – should have been ruled legal instead of a foul.

In the women’s event, it will be interesting to see what shape Rio bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon is in after electing to forego Doha to prepare for Tokyo.

And, let us not forget the relays – which will include an Olympic mixed event for the first time – where Britain has a proud tradition.

“You’re talking minor margins,” said Jackson when asked about Great Britain’s four fourth-placed finishes.

“When you’re making a statement about how many medals you want to win, you’re always going to have to add those in.

“If we can have surprises, then so can other nations.”

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