Dina Asher-Smith stormed to victory in the women’s 100 metre race at the Diamond League meeting in Gateshead yesterday.
Battling wet and windy British weather, Asher-Smith finished in 11.35 seconds. She was 0.11 seconds clear of emerging talent Sha'Carri Richardson, with Marie-Josee Ta Lou placing third in 11.48. Three-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had to make do with fourth.
Following Asher-Smith’s impressive performance, fans will be hoping she can repeat the feat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Will the 25-year-old be able to?
Defeating world-class opponents
The poor weather in Gateshead meant Asher-Smith’s winning time was nothing to write home about. Instead, it was the calibre of the opponents she beat that made her victory notable.
Elaine Thompson-Herah was the only significant absence. The Jamaican, the reigning Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m, sat out yesterday’s meeting through injury.
Otherwise, the field was packed with star names. This included Richardson, Fraser Pryce, world bronze medallist Ta Lou, and Blessing Okagbare. Asher-Smith held them off with ease, suggesting she could do the same at Tokyo 2020.
Despite this, Asher-Smith played down how indicative the result was. "I think all in all today was more of an experience," she said. "The only thing that can indicate Tokyo is the Olympic final itself."
"I feel really good. Conditions were far from ideal for sprinting but the most important thing is to come away with a good result and a win and I was very happy to do that."
The rise of Sha’Carri Richardson
Since turning professional in 2019, America’s Richardson has put herself in with a strong chance of an Olympic medal. She is now looking likely to be Asher-Smith’s main rival in Tokyo.
The 21-year-old particularly impressed at the USATF Golden Games this month, clocking back-to-back times of 10.74 and 10.77 seconds in the 100m. She also ran a time of 10.72 last month, making her the sixth fastest woman in history.
Richardson is so new to elite athletics that she has hardly raced outside of the United States. When considering this, her performance in the driving rain and wind of England was all the more impressive. She is on a meteoric rise and is only set to improve over the coming months.
Richardson did not use the poor weather as an excuse for her second place finish, and confirmed she would be gunning for gold in Tokyo. “I already know where my faults are,” she said. “I knew what the weather was like in all eight lanes. Everybody had the exact same thing.”
“I know what I have to work on and just want to show the world and the women in my sport that I’m here to stay. I want to show them that even though this is my first year doing this, I don’t just want to exist, I’m a competitor.”
Going for gold in 100m and 200m
It’s worth remembering that Asher-Smith will be focusing on two events at Tokyo 2020 – the 100m and 200m. She has actually been more successful in the latter distance, finishing with gold in the 200m at the 2019 World Athletics Championships. The Briton placed second in the 100m.
Perhaps an Olympic gold in the 200m will come at the expense of topping the podium in the 100m. But lots of Asher-Smith’s rivals, including Richardson, are also aiming to do the sprint double and will be exerting the same amount of energy.
One thing’s for certain, Asher-Smith is a shoo-in for an Olympic medal this summer. Her performance in Gateshead showed it very well could be gold.News Now - Sport News