Azu credits ability to perform under pressure in European 100m bronze

·2-min read
Athletes in action during the ATHLETICS - MEN'S 100M FINAL at during the European Championships 2022 on August 16, 2022, in Munich, Germany. Photo: Dominik Berchtold / Munich2022 (Dominik Berchtold / Munich2022)

By Will Jennings in Munich

Jubilant Jeremiah Azu believes a natural ability to thrive on the big stage fired him to his brilliant 100m European bronze.

The Welsh sprinter, 21, finished third behind Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs and British teammate Zharnel Hughes on a memorable night in Munich.

Azu clocked a personal best time of 10.13 to finish 0.18s behind Jacobs – whose 9.95s marked a Championship record – and improve on his fifth-place finish at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

Munich’s Olympic Stadium was packed to the rafters for the flagship race and Azu says keeping cool in the pressure-cooker held the key to his success.

Azu, who survived a nervous wait before his medal was confirmed, said: “Honestly, that’s what I live for.

“I think a lot of people would feel nervous in that position, but I think it feels natural.

“I think I was born to do this – sprinters are born sprinters. I’ve been gifted a talent and I’m just using it to inspire.

“It’s exciting and I think the celebration says it all.

“I wanted to come out with a medal, so I was nervously waiting for that third to come out.

“I was in lane eight so I couldn’t see what was going on beyond Jacobs.

“It was a very fun race – I came out with a PB so I’m really happy.”

Azu missed out on a spot at this year’s World Championships but battled back to finish fifth for Team Wales in Birmingham this summer.

His time of 10.19s fell agonisingly short of a medal at the Alexander Stadium but he arrived here in Munich with genuine podium aspirations.

Azu kicked off his campaign with a time of 10.17s – finishing second behind Hughes – before going even faster in the final on what marked a turbulent evening for British sprinters.

Daryll Neita won bronze in the women’s 100m as defending champion Dina Asher-Smith pulled up with cramp on 60m.

Azu says he’s loved learning from experienced Hughes, 27, and is relishing the prospect of ‘picking the brains’ of Jacobs, who scorched to a surprise gold in Tokyo, at the medal ceremony this week.

“Zharnel is a really good mentor,” he added.

“He’s been everywhere and seen it all, so to be in the environment with him is really good.

“I haven’t had the chance to speak to Jacobs too much but hopefully when we get our medals , I can pick his brains a bit.

“It’s great to speak to people who have been there and done it.”

The multi-sport European Championships Munich 2022, featuring Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, Sport Climbing, takes place 11th-21st August on the 50th anniversary of the Olympics Games in the German city. Watch daily live coverage across BBC One, Two, Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website