Dina Asher-Smith is bidding to become the first British woman to win an individual sprint gold medal at the Olympic Games.
The 25-year-old is already the fastest British woman in history and the current 200m world champion, but a gold medal in the Games’ most prestigious event would mean so much more.
On paper, there is no overwhelming favourite for this year’s competition. Instead, there are a number of contenders with a realistic chance of silverware and this includes Asher-Smith.
The Brit is unbeaten this season, though she pulled out of the British Grand Prix earlier this month with a tight hamstring. This withdrawal was merely a precaution though there are signs the GB star is still managing the injury somewhat.
In the heats, Asher-Smith finished second behind America’s Teahna Daniels with a time of 11.07 seconds. It was far from a quick time and actually slower than fellow Brit Daryll Neita, who ran a 10.96, but there were some signs that the World Championship silver medallist was holding back.
While it’s clear that Asher-Smith has more to give, it’s her fellow competitors which will worry her most. Despite American sensation Sha’Carri Richardson being notably absent, the field still contains defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Both looked effortless in their heats and coasted to victory. Thompson-Herah's time of 10.82 seconds was the second quickest of anyone after Marie Dominique Ta Lou, who ran a 10.78.
The Jamaican has seemingly found form at the perfect time, having clocked a 10.71 earlier this month –– her fastest time since 2017 and only 0.01 seconds off her personal best.
Fraser-Pryce has been equally impressive of late. The 34-year-old has announced she’ll retire after the 2022 World Championships but looks to be quicker than ever before.
This is evidenced by her times of late. In June she ran a personal best 10.63, which is the second fastest recorded time in history.
Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce may well be the names to beat this year, but Asher-Smith has proven she can beat both already. At a Diamond League meeting in Gateshead earlier this year, the Brit finished ahead of the two Jamaican sprinters in difficult conditions.
So there is every reason to get excited about the prospect of a British medal in the 100m. Asher-Smith will of course have to run faster than in her heat, but the 25-year-old has shown she has the speed, the form and the belief. Now it’s just a case of delivering on the biggest stage.
The 100m semi-finals take place tomorrow. Asher-Smith is in the first race, which gets underway at 11:15 BST.