Brussels DL: Dina Asher-Smith crowned 100m champion ahead of showdown in Doha


Dina Asher-Smith is officially the 100-metre Diamond League champion.

In a season that has largely seen the Brit assume the role of bridesmaid, Asher-Smith was the sprinter who collected the bouquet after a storming performance at the final in Brussels.

Going toe-to-toe with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce straight out the blocks, it quickly became a two-horse race that Asher-Smith, effortlessly maintaining her form, controlled right until the finish.

It's also a result that arguably makes Asher-Smith the favourite for both the 100m and 200m going into the World Championships in Doha - a tantalising prospect for athletics in Britain.

The 200m gold seems to have her name on it in the absence of Shaunae Miller-Uibo - who will focus on the 400m - and she has proven her ability to tame the Jamaicans in the shorter sprint.

Asher-Smith defeats Fraser-Pryce

Of course, only time will tell and it would be unwise to shovel too much pressure on the 23-year-old ahead of time, but even the beatific athlete herself was wearing a larger smile than usual.

Hurriedly speaking to the media before her trophy presentation, Asher-Smith explained: "I didn't have a time in my mind, simply because - in these races - you never know what's going to happen.

"It's so cold today, you never know what the times are going to be. I just wanted to go out there and put together a great race. My coach says: 'Dina, you can do it. If you just do X, Y and Z, then it's going to be very interesting.'


Focus turns to World Championships

"My coach is the king of the understatement, so interesting means good! You've got so many experienced and fantastically talented women, it's great but the Diamond League is a one-off race.

"When the championship comes and you've got rounds and a different climate, I'm sure everybody will bring their A-game and it will be a very interesting race. But, at the same time, I'm very happy to have run well tonight."

It would seem that Asher-Smith is as understated as her coach - the Diamond League crown is, after all, a true statement and the weightiest accolade in her largely continental trophy cabinet.

However, it only makes sense that Asher-Smith has her sights set beyond the King Baudouin Stadium and doing all she can to prevent Fraser-Pryce and co from exacting revenge.

Lyles makes Diamond League history

And while the thoroughly entertaining American won't be contesting the former in Doha, he gave the European fans a taste of what's to come around the half-lap with yet another victory.

A rain-swept Brussels bend prevented any spectacular times, but Lyles was still comfortable on his way to victory and later revealed with typical hilarity that he desperately needed the toilet.

In the eloquent words of the Diamond League champion himself: “I had to use the bathroom, so I was trying to compose myself to prevent an accident."

And while Lyles was holding on down the home-straight in more ways than one, there was also a season's best from World champion Ramil Guliyev who won't relinquish his title without a fight.


Stefanidi retains pole vault crown

There was also a familiar face on the winner's podium in Katerina Stefanidi. We're certain that if you took a dipstick to her veins, then an icicle would emerge when you removed it.

It goes without saying that the women's pole vault is panning out to be one of 2019's most exciting events and Stefanidi had to fend off a strong challenge from Anzhelika Sidorova.

However, with the same spirit with which she won her World and Olympic crowns, the Greek cleared the bar on every single occasion to complete the dress rehearsal for Doha in a season's best.

European Athletics Team Championships Super League Bydgoszcz 2019

Bradshaw on the fight for pole vault gold

British challenger Holly Bradshaw told GiveMeSport after the thrilling contest: "It's really exciting because if you jump 4.80 or 4.85 metres, then you're in amongst the medals and I feel like eight girls could do that.

"I do think it's a bit underestimated just how exciting it is because who knows who's going to win? Kat is looking really good, Sidorova is looking good. You've got Alysha, Katie... anyone could take it on the day.

"That's what's keeping me motivated, I know my jumps are there! The last two meets I've jumped the best I've ever jumped in my career and I just need a little bit of fine-tuning."

Glory in the triple jump and long jump

On the topic of World and Olympic champions, Christian Taylor made history by winning an astonishing seventh Diamond League crown in the space of eight seasons in the triple jump.

There wasn't to be the drama of the Paris meet, where Will Claye leaped to an outrageous 18.06 metres, but expect there to be a thrilling all-American clash when Doha rolls around.

British interest also extended to the long jump as Katarina Johnson-Thompson rounded off her World Championship preparations with a strong third-place finish amongst a world-class field.

It will come as little surprise that the omnipotent Malaika Mihambo claimed the Diamond League title, jumping her customary seven-metre jump to keep the legendary Brittney Reese at bay.

Muller Anniversary Games - Day Two

Thiam finishes third in the high jump

However, without doubt the star of the show for the home crowd was Nafissatou Thiam, who competed in the high jump before her heptathlon showdown with Johnson-Thompson.

Finishing third behind the eastern European duo of Mariya Lasitskene and Luliya Levchenko, the multi-event champion was followed by rapturous applause wherever she walked.

But before she spent almost 40 minutes ensuring every fan had their autograph signed and selfie wishes fulfilled, the Belgian had time to analyse her performance with GiveMeSport.


Thiam adored by home crowd

"I'm very happy, it was a good competition," Thiam reflected in the mixed zone. "I had a few problems and stuff to change with my run-up but now that it's done, I don't need to do it in Doha.

"I can re-start with fresh marks. Ninety-five in these conditions, it was really windy and not so hot, so I'm really happy with that. I had really good sensations."

Thirty-two diamonds from the IAAF jewellery have now been scattered to some of the world's finest athletes, but now athletics's governing body will offer their athletes the world later this month.

All attention turns to Doha

Countless storylines are already feeding tantalisingly into the World Championships and Asher-Smith, more than most, now has the opportunity to pen one of the most exciting chapters. 

She'll have countless World and Olympic champions biting at her spikes, but don't be surprised if the sprinting sensation replants a British flag on the athletics map when it needs it most.

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