By Chris Bailey
Croydon Harriers James Dasaolu enjoyed a breakthrough 2013, and British Athletics’ lead sprints coach Lloyd Cowan wants this to become the norm rather than the exception as he looks to turn promise into silverware.
This season saw Dasaolu break the 10-second barrier in the 100m not once but twice as he ended his season with a flourish.
The 26-year-old ran the second-fastest time for a Brit ever when he won his semi-final at July’s British Championships in 9.91 seconds – although he pulled out of the final with cramp.
But just a month later Dasaolu was at it again as he recorded 9.97 in his semi-final at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, shaking off any injury concerns that had seen him withdraw from the Anniversary Games in London.
However injury once again reared its ugly head on the big stage and in the showpiece Dasaolu finished eighth as Usain Bolt stormed to victory.
And while admitting there is plenty of reason to get excited about the leaps Dasaolu has made this year, Cowan does not want anyone getting too excited until the Londoner repeats his impressive feats when it really matters.
“I think Steve Fudge [Dasaolu’s coach] and his team learned this year from things they did earlier in the season,” Cowan said, speaking at the 2013 UK Sport Coach Awards supported by Gillette.
“They think it will be a great season next year and at the European Championships James will be a favourite, alongside Jimmy [Vicaut] from France.
“At the Commonwealth Games I think it will be different because the Jamaicans can put out a B-string and they’d still be good enough to get a winning time.
“But I think James will grow from his experiences, but we need to have some consistency in performances at championship level. Not what I call at our trials, because it’s all about championships at the end of the day.
“If you’ve won here [Britain] for the last three years you need to start setting your sights a bit further afield and learning what it takes to win a medal at a championships.”
Having missed out on London 2012 Dasaolu will be eager for lightning not to strike twice in Rio in three years time, And Cowan insists there is still plenty of work to be done if Britain are to become a force to be reckoned with in the 100m in Brazil.
“We’re in a good state but we’ve got to be real, we haven’t got any kids running 9.6. So in reality until we find a kid who can run a 9.7, we’re just in a good state,” he added.
“We’ve got James who ran 9.92 in the trials and 9.98 in the World Championships, we’ve got Adam Gemili who ran 19.98 at the World Championships in the 200m but they’re still development athletes at this stage.
“I’m more looking at Rio and also Tokyo for those guys to be established and that’s we’ve got to look forward to.
“Right now, while the Usain Bolts are around, the Yohan Blakes are around, I’m sorry, I’ve got to be real as a coach – it’s going to be a hard job to tackle those guys. They’re running the sort of times our guys may be capable of in three years’ time.”
The 2013 Gillette Great Starts’ campaign celebrates community coaches and inspires the next generation of coaches by providing them with grants to fund their next level qualifications. Applications for coaching grants available through the scheme will reopen in 2014, visit www.facebook.com/GilletteUK for more details.