The absent Commonwealth Games stars will regret missing out on glory in Birmingham, defiant organizers have insisted.
Four world champions from Eugene have departed from the Games, including Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the gold medalist in the women’s 100m, who is in Birmingham for training but has instead opted to race in Europe next week.
Shericka Jackson, 400m world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and 1500m gold medalist Faith Kipyegon are also missing, taking away much of the shine from the track and field program.
However, Birmingham 2022 chief executive officer Ian Reid insisted that those athletes – and other absent stars such as the diver Tom Daley and gymnast Max Whitlock – would regret their decision after seeing the massive crowds and atmosphere in the area. Birmingham.
“We can’t let people come here, but if Shelly-Ann was here before and saw the atmosphere and the full stadium, she probably regrets it,” he said. “To have 30,000 people in Alexander Stadium for every athletic session, the atmosphere it creates, I can’t think of anywhere where these athletes could be.
“We are very happy with the athletes who showed up. Of course there are others who are not here, but my personal opinion is that they will probably regret it.” That view was supported by legendary decathlete Daley Thompson, who won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games during his career.
“I think everyone has a choice and I think it used to be less about making a living and more about glory – for yourself and your country,” he said. If there are people who want to earn their living and go racing in Zurich or wherever that may be, that’s fair enough. But from my own point of view, it was all about winning championships and being the best.
“But I think everyone is entitled to their choice, but the people who go for the money miss it because it’s a great place to be. The Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, ran today, she’s here. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for most people.”
Thompson-Herah qualified as joint fastest for the 100m semifinals on Wednesday, with an impressive 10.99 seconds. However, England’s Darryl Neita believes she can be the best in Birmingham – and hopes her chihuahua, Melon, will watch.
Neita also looked fantastic when she ran 11.02 in her heat. And afterwards she insisted: “I always aim for gold. Every time I step on the track, I want gold. I’m going to get as close to it as possible.”
Elsewhere, Laura Muir, who won 1500m bronze in Eugene last month, reached the final of the 800m in 1min 58.84sec, along with Keely Hodgkinson and Alexandra Bell in Saturday’s showpiece.
Muir, who will be doing doubles in the 800m and 1500m at these championships, said: “I feel I am really competitive in both events. I haven’t hosted a Commonwealth Games in eight years. It’s on relatively homely ground so it’s very close and was too good an opportunity not to. I feel strong and fit enough to do both and run well in both.”
Meanwhile, Katarina Johnson-Thompson finished the first day of the heptathlon 109 points ahead of Northern Ireland’s Kate O’Connor. The defending champion from Liverpool finished only fifth after a disappointing 100m hurdles, but a 1.84m high jump, followed by a 12.94m shot put and a 200m of 23.70s gave her a firm grip on control hands.