Athletics didn’t come home either, as it happens. But a day after Gareth Southgate and his merry men took fourth in Russia, Britain somehow ram-raiding their way to third in the Athletics World Cup in London.
In the end, it might even have been second, but a desperately late drama saw the first-leg runner of their 4x400m team, Cameron Chalmers, pull out with a torn hamstring just minutes before the gun as he went through his final preparations, forcing their withdrawal and allowing Poland to snatch silver overall behind runaway leaders USA.
Irrespective of that brutal setback, it was a stunning final-day revival from an under-strength British team, which sat fifth after day one on Saturday but surged up to third courtesy of six podium finishes and then reached second when the women’s 4x100m relay squad of Asher Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Bianca Williams and Shannon Hylton took gold.
Great Britain took gold in the women’s 4x100m relay race at the Athletics World Cup in London
Asher Philip, Shannon Hylton, Bianca Williams and Imani-Lara Lansiquot pictured left to right
A good effort and one that would have surely drawn a higher finish had the leading British lights of Dina Asher-Smith, Laura Muir and the top male sprinters turned up. But that has been the drawback across all eight nations of this inaugural edition, with big names staying away.
It remains to be seen how that will be resolved for future editions, with talks underway to stage the event in China in 2020 and the USA in 2022. But the thrillingly close leaderboard here served as a vindication for a format that was dreamt up by UK Athletics and holds more potential than any of the other ideas being batted around in a sport desperate for innovation.
But the sense persists that areas of the idea’s execution were lacking, owing to various gripes over appearance money, scheduling conflicts and contractual issues with kit manufacturers. Each area has come in for criticism within the sport and it will fall on UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos to learn from the experience, because it would be fascinating to see the sport’s biggest names fit into this format.
IAAF president Seb Coe said: ‘I’ve been very clear that I want new things to be tried. They are not always going to work out from the word go but that can’t inhibit us. We can’t go, ‘We tried, it didn’t do everything so we go back to the same old thing’. I’m really pleased UKA have taken up the challenge.’
USA won the inaugural Athletics World Cup at the London Stadium on Sunday evening
Poland took second spot ahead of Great Britain after the hosts pulled out of the men’s 4x400m
USA captain Queen Harrison celebrated her team’s success as she held the World Cup trophy
Britain’s charge on Sunday night started with Commonwealth Games champion Nick Miller, who was second in the hammer behind the world-leading Polish thrower Wojciech Nowicki, while 2011 world champion Dai Greene took third in the 400m hurdles in his first appearance in a British vest for five years.
There was also breakthrough promise in the performance of Beth Dobbin, a receptionist at Loughborough University who stunned the professionals to win the British championships earlier this summer and then took third in the 200m here. Neil Gourley was third in the 1500m, Morgan Lake was second in the high jump and Adelle Tracey was an impressive second in the 800m.
Greene said: ‘Anything that brings competitive athletes together on the circuit is a good thing. If we cannot have it on the same day as Wimbledon and the World Cup final then maybe we’ll get a better crowd here, but the crowd that is here is loud enough anyway. Athletes love competing here so it just needs to be fine-tuned for the future.’
Britain’s Adelle Tracey was impressive as she finished second in the women’s 800m event
Twenty-five-year-old Tracey finished behind American Raevyn Rogers (right) in the 800m