Croydon Harrier James Dasaolu was denied a 60 metres gold medal at the European indoor championships in Gothenburg tonight by the thickness of his vest.
In the first senior international final of his career, Dasaolu did not enjoy the best of starts, yet at 50 metres, even at 51 or 52, the 25-year-old Londoner held a narrow lead over better experienced sprinters from across the continent. Only in the final two strides, as he tired or perhaps tensed with that elusive gold medal beckoning, did Dasaolu cede the lead unwillingly to the French favourite, Jimmy Vicaut.
Dasaolu threw himself at the line, crashing on to the track of the banked curve of the indoor arena in a desperate effort. He secured himself the silver medal in the fastest time in the world this year, and one of the fastest ever run by a Briton.
So close was it at the finish that the electronic timer had to go to thousandths of a second to separate the first two, recording both Dasaolu and Vicaut at 6.48sec.
Only last month, Dasaolu had set his lifetime best at 6.58 in winning the national title in Sheffield. Earlier today, he improved on that to 6.53 in winning his Gothenburg semi-final, and marking himself out as a real medal contender.
To drop his personal best by a full one-tenth of a second is a strong sign that Dasaolu, who is now training at Loughborough, can build on his 2012 summer season, which saw him reach the Olympic 100m semi-final.
One of the first to congratulate Dasaolu as he paraded around the Gothenburg track with a Union flag draped over his shoulders was another Croydon Harrier, Mark Shearman, the veteran sports photographer from Purley who has been covering international athletics events for almost 50 years.
Dasaolu said, “I knew it was going to be tough against the Italian and the French guy, even though he didn’t lay it down in the semi I was still wary of him. I don’t think I had the best of reactions, so I just had to drive and going towards the line I gave it everything and managed to fall over.
“I’m happy with my first senior medal but I’m even more happy with 6.48, I didn’t expect that; 6.50 I was hoping for,” the young man said, almost lost for words.
Among Britons, only Dwain Chambers, Linford Christie and Jason Gardener – all of whom won world or European indoor titles – have ever run quicker. Dasaolu’s time also improves the Croydon Harriers club record of 6.51sec set by Jason Livingston in winning the European indoor title in Glasgow 21 years ago.
“I’m really happy with my performance,” Dasaolu said. “My coach told me to just go through everything I’d done in the semi-final, but obviously everyone stepped it up for the final, and it was tough out there.
“Track and field is an outdoor sport, so I just hope this is going to help my 100-metre time more than anything else.”
Also in the final, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, the Sutton sprinter, delivered a season’s best 6.63sec for seventh place to indicate firmly that he is over his long-term injury issues. The re-match between the two south Londoners over 100 metres will be one of the highlights at the nationals in the summer.
- Dasalou takes short route to Sweden in search of a medal
- McDonald canters away with pair of National titles
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