Dina Asher-Smith reacts to running sub 11 seconds at the Rome Diamond League


'Bittersweet' was the key word that Dina Asher-Smith and I agreed upon after her second-place finish at the Rome Diamond League on Thursday night.

It was the first time that the Brit had contested 100 metres this season and she was considered the favourite after clocking two consecutive world leads over the 200m.

And by the time Asher-Smith had exploded from the blocks and emerged from her drive phase, it looked as though she would continue her 100% record in 2019.

However, what nobody expected was to see Elaine Thompson - the reigning Olympic champion - motor through the final 40 metres like a steam-train to claim the full points.

Despite her golden performances at the Rio games, Thompson has struggled for form in recent years and delivering a world lead of 10.89 seconds was a serious statement.

Second place for Asher-Smith

However, although Asher-Smith tasted the lower step of the podium for the first time this year, she also registered a sub-11 second time to mark her greatest ever season's opener.

So, emerging from the track still with sweat glazing her forehead, the 23-year-old had mixed feelings about a performance boasting both positives and disappointment at having lost.

"Obviously, 10.94 as an opener, I really can't complain," Asher-Smith admitted in the mixed zone.

Mixed feelings for the Brit

"I've never ever opened sub-11 before, so that's something my coach will be absolutely over the moon about and I put together a really good quality race, so he'll be happy with that.

"But I'm a competitor and obviously I go out there every single to win, so to come second is frustrating and especially as I was doing so well, then I felt myself tensing up and then I was like: 'ahhh!'

"But that's just what happens with races and that's why you need more and more races to get race fit, and that's when you're ready for the championships."

The only reason that Asher-Smith is now being judged by such high standards is the fact she's established herself as the number one contender over both sprints in Doha. 


Adam Gemili's 10.7 prediction

Compatriot Adam Gemili even tweeted before the race in Rome that a 10.7-second time could be on the cards, but Asher-Smith isn't letting times distract her at this point of the season.

Greeting news of the tweet with a look of amusement, the Brit reacted by saying: "To be fair, I don't really think about times. I'm not really a times person.

"I always just think about putting together the best race that I can and when you do that kind of thing, times will always follow but we don't set time targets, I'm not really that kind of athlete.

"I mean, it's a bold prediction for the start of June, especially when the World Championships are in October. So, Adam!" 

Laura Muir defeated by Dibaba

We will have to keep our fingers crossed that such rapid times - both from Asher-Smith and Thompson - continue into the summer and potentially drop towards 10.7 territory come Doha.

Aside from the women's 100m, there was no shortage of drama in the 'Eternal City' and Laura Muir will count herself unlucky to have finished second in the 1500m.

Despite producing the second fastest time of her career, the Scotswoman was defeated by world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba who matched her stride-for-stride down the home straight. 

Drama in the pole vault and 200m

There was also a stacked field in the women's pole vault and it took a national record from Angelica Bengtsson to defeat the likes of Olympic and World champion Katerini Stefanidi.

Meanwhile, the men's 200m lived up to its billing and showed that the Noah Lyles vs Michael Norman rivalry is an enthralling storyline to watch on the road to Doha.

Norman - a 400m runner by trade - delivered an extradorinaiy bend and despite Lyles vying to repeat his comeback heroics from Shanghai, he maintained his form to collect full points. 

However, Asher-Smith once again finished the evening as one of the major talking points and in spite of defeat, proved that she's tackling 2019 in the form of her life.

For a full round-up of the results, you can check out @GMS_Athletics on Twitter for breaking news, key statistics and video interviews with the athletes themselves.

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