Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie) was in scintillating form as the sprinter smashed her personal best in the opening round of the 200m at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Despite easing down in the last 20 metres, Asher-Smith set a new lifetime best of 22.22 to win her heat to take her within 0.12 of Kathy Cook’s 31 year-old British record. The 19 year old’s time would have been good enough to win the world title in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2011 showing the intent from one of the newest stars of British Athletics.
Asher-Smith said afterwards: “I’m really, really happy, I didn’t expect to go out there and run a PB, nobody would expect that. I was just trying to qualify, so I made sure I ran a good bend, then try and relax and ease my way to the line, and get a good lane in the semi-final. I am quite happy to have done that, but to get a PB I am absolutely over the moon.
“That’s a great compliment (to be considered a medal prospect) but at the same time I’ve still got to qualify for the final, to even be a medal contender so even when you get there, each of the eight on the line have equal chance so thanks for the compliment but I still have a lot of work to do.”
Both Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) and Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) also came through their opening heat, clocking 22.85 and 23.10 respectively and will join Asher-Smith at the penultimate stage tomorrow evening.
In the men’s equivalent, Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills) showed that he can put himself in the medal reckoning with a composed run in the opening heat. His time of 20.14 saw him cross the line first and secure his passage into the final, where he will face training partner and nine-time world champion Usain Bolt.
“I have no expectations going into the final. I just want to go out and execute my race and hopefully get a medal,” said Hughes.
In the third of three semi-finals, Danny Talbot (Dan Cossins) produced the performance of his career with a new personal best of 20.27, but missed out on a place in the final.
South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk stormed to 400m gold in a world-leading time of 43.48, with Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) ending a strong campaign with a sixth place finish in the men’s 400m final. All three medallists clocked sub-44 seconds in a world-class race, with Yousif coming home in 44.68.
“It was a crazy fast race. It was a hot pepper race! I tried, I gave it a 100% performance, but it never worked. Bearing in mind that I have the 45.4 in the back of my legs from the day before. I will go home and hopefully come back stronger,” said Yousif.
“I tried to stick to my plan, but people are crazy, people are going like maniacs in that race. I gave it a go and hopefully I can come back next year and try again. They had to get stretchered off, that’s how crazy it is. Somebody runs until he loses his mind.”
European 400m hurdles champion Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), who finished fifth two years ago in Moscow, was left disappointed with her sixth place finish in the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
Child posted a time of 54.78 and said: “I just didn’t execute the right race. I stuttered on a couple of the hurdles and I felt if it was smoother, I would have run a much better race. I was disappointed with the hurdling and it was all a little bit messy. I’m perhaps not making the right decisions.
“I feel like I should be amongst the medals or at least closer and I just feel like I’m throwing these opportunities away.”
After a flawless qualification, Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) marked her return to the world stage with an impressive seventh place finish in the women’s pole vault. Bradshaw, who was on the injury sidelines for a total of 16 months cleared a season’s best height of 4.70m, with the world crown going to Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, who cleared 4.90m.
A rightfully delighted Bradshaw commented: I’m so happy I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this competition. After I qualified so well, I didn’t really know what would happen. But to jump 4.70 out there – only 1cm off the British outdoor record and an outdoor PB I am so, so happy.”
British Athletics medals at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing, China
Mo Farah (10,000m)
Jessica Ennis-Hill (Heptathlon)
Greg Rutherford (Long jump)