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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Matt Majendie

Team GB must maintain positive Budapest vibes into Paris Olympics

As the dust settled here on Britain equalling its best-ever medal haul of 10 at a World Championships, UK Athletics technical director Stephen Maguire spoke of a need for athletes to step up to another level at the Paris Olympics in a year's time.

But his warning came with the counter that "I'd be very optimistic" looking ahead to the Games.

Great Britain had come here with its smallest team — 54 — for a Worlds in 15 years, following the withdrawal of Eilish McColgan through injury.

That selection decision raised a few eyebrows among some athletes who had been overlooked, despite making the qualification criteria, but was ultimately exonerated.

Zharnel Hughes and Keely Hodgkinson had been seen as the squad's best bets for gold, but came home with a bronze and silver between them in notoriously tough events.

Keeley Hodgkinson had to settle for silver again (AP)

Maguire argued Hughes now needed to deliver further on his promise. As he put it: "He has got to. His age and stage of his career, he would be honest as well now he has grabbed one [medal], it's the monkey off his back. But Zharnel has been superb, first class."

Noah Lyles is a class apart in the sprints but, after a breakthrough season in breaking two three-decade long British records, Hughes will be confident on the road to Paris.

So, too, Hodgkinson after a fourth straight silver medal at a major championships. Still only 21 and more tactically astute than ever, she is still a work in progress.

Britain did still come away with golds — and surprise ones, too. Katarina Johnson-Thompson set things off by winning the heptathlon on the first Sunday. In Paris, an anticipated three-way battle with Anna Hall and Nafi Thiam is a thrilling prospect.

The other gold went to Josh Kerr, who ran a near-perfect race to upstage overwhelming favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 1500m, and Kerr made it clear he was not about to rest on his laurels with Paris on the horizon. There, the man he succeeded as world champion, Jake Wightman, ought to be fit again and firing.

Josh Kerr stunned with gold in 1500m (Getty Images)

Despite the 10 medals, there were those that did not hit quite their best. Dina Asher-Smith was mysteriously struggling with feeling below her waist and failed to come close to a medal in either sprint.

Paris has always been her long game and 10 global medals suggest the 27-year-old will be back. Also in the sprints, Daryll Neita has raised her game to its highest level yet.

Matt Hudson-Smith pulled off the remarkable with a silver over 400m given an Achilles issue meant at times in the build up he could not walk, let alone run. Gold will be the aim once the issue is resolved.

With the championships over, Maguire spoke about a "feelgood factor" in the squad. The focus is to maintain that into Paris.

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