LONDON (AFP) – James Dasaolu produced a blistering sprint of 9.91 seconds to become the second fastest Briton of all time in the 100 metres semi-finals at the British Championships on Saturday.
Dasaolu ran quicker than even world record holder Usain Bolt has managed this year to catapult himself into contention for a medal at next month's World Championships.
The 25-year-old's time in Birmingham was second only to former Olympic champion Linford Christie.
Dasaolu shattered his personal best, which had been 10.03sec, and he is now ranked fourth in the world just a month before the World Championships get under way in Moscow.
Only Tyson Gay of the United States, who tops the rankings with 9.75sec, Asafa Powell, who did not qualify for the Jamaica team for Moscow, and America's Justin Gatlin have gone quicker this year.
Jamaican Bolt, the double Olympic champion, has a best of 9.94sec this year.
"Fourth in the world, I can't complain," Dasaolu said. "I was so happy that I went 9.91, almost challenging the 9.80s.
"Both me and my coach are happy. On the hottest day of the year, conditions were good and we got the sub-10 clocking."
But Dasaolu, who reached the semi-finals of the 100 metres at the London Olympics and won silver at the European Indoor Championships in March, was denied the chance to go for Christie's 20-year-old national record of 9.87.
He decided to pull out of Saturday's final after suffering from cramp following his superb run.
Dasaolu has had injury problems in the past and had clearly done enough to secure his place on the British sprint team in Moscow.
"I don't want to let anybody down and I was looking forward to taking my first British Championships 100m title," Dasaolu said. "But my ultimate aim is to be fit for Moscow and I don't want to risk an injury competing in the final.
With Dasaolu opting out of the final, it was veteran Dwain Chambers who won the title.
Chambers won in his season's best time of 10.04 sec, and the 35-year-old, banned for two years for doping in 2004, has now booked his place in the World Championship squad.
"I think it's fantastic that James has been able to do that time," Chambers said of Dasaolu's performance. "It's helped motivate me even further."
With the British Championships doubling up as qualification trials for Moscow, five other athletes guaranteed their place on the World Championship squad.
Christine Ohuruogu was a convincing winner of the 400m in 50.98, Asha Philip won the women's 100m in a new personal best of 11.20, Tiffany Porter took the 100m hurdles crown in 12.68, while Marilyn Okoro won the 800m title in 2:00.60.
400m hurdler Rhys Williams also sealed his place with a personal best of 48.85.
That left him second behind Dai Greene, but, as the reigning world champion has a wild card for Moscow, Williams' performance was good enough to qualify.