Dina Asher-Smith (club: Blackheath & Bromley; coach: John Blackie) claimed her maiden world title and broke her own British record as she took Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s first gold medal of the IAAF World Championships in Doha, storming to victory in the women’s 200m.
Pulling away early on, she maintained a comfortable lead as she powered down the home straight to take victory in 21.88s (0.9), shaving 0.01s off her previous British record and becoming the first British woman to claim medals in the 100m and 200m at a championships.
Asher-Smith also become the seventh British woman ever to claim a gold medal at the World Championships, and the first since Jessica Ennis-Hill in 2015.
After the race, she said: “I don’t think it’s properly sunk in, it’s something that since the last World Championships, John [Blackie] and I knew that I could do it but there’s a different thing actually going and doing it – it means so much.
“I know I was tired and woke up today knowing this was the last individual chance and this was the moment I did all my work for. This is what we knew we could achieve if the season went well and the tiredness just disappeared when I needed it to.
“It means so much. There’s so many British fans here and I know lots of Brits live in Doha but lots have travelled and for my mum to be here, my dad, John and his wife and my physios it means so much. Normally I’m quite chatty and full of energy but it’s a different thing with everyone saying you’re the favourite but it’s a different thing going and doing it.
“You’re only the favourite if you go out and perform how people expect you to and I was really focused on putting together a good race. I dreamt of this but now it’s real.
“It means a lot and I’m really happy but I’m going to enjoy this one and use it as motivation going into the big one [Tokyo] next year.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Liverpool; Bertrand Valcin) rounded off day one of the women’s heptathlon leading the field on 4138 points, ahead of Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam by 96 points.
Johnson-Thompson opened up by shattering her 100m hurdles personal best by two tenths to 13.09s and backed it up with a Championship best 1.95m effort in the high jump, matched by Belgium’s Nafi Thiam.
The Liverpool Harrier then put 71cm onto her shot put personal best with a third-round effort of 13.86m, rounding off the first day of action with a season’s best showing in the 200m, clocking 23.09.
The score is the fourth best ever by a heptathlete at the end of day one of competition and with two personal bests to her name, Johnson-Thompson hoped to carry her form from today into day two of the heptathlon.
She assessed: “My 200m isn’t where it was from the last couple of years, which is obviously something I need to work on for next year but I am happy with it, it is a season’s best.
“I surprised myself in the hurdles. In my score calculator I have never put 13.0 in it – I was very happy with that and surprised!
“It’s the halfway point, I have got another day to negotiate tomorrow, I am in a good position. I don’t think in those terms [about leading]. I know that I am in good shape, I know that I can contend but I never think in those terms and that I need to be in the lead by this many points.”
Nick Miller (Border; Tore Gustafsson), the other British athlete in finals action this evening, finished the men’s hammer throw in 10th position, with a first-round effort of 75.31m.
Earlier in the evening, five Brits booked their places into semi-finals and finals, led by Sophie McKinna (Great Yarmouth; Mike Winch), who obliterated her shot put personal best to make the final.
The Great Yarmouth athlete produced a monumental 18.61m effort in the third round to qualify in third place in her pool and sixth overall. It makes her the first British woman to make the final of the shot put since Venissa Head in 1983.
Her effort was the furthest by a Briton in 21 years, achieving an Olympic Games qualifying standard in the process.
Afterwards, McKinna said: “To get into the final – it wasn’t expected of me I don’t think? So I didn’t have any pressure and I went there to throw my best and I was lucky enough to produce it when it really counts at the World Championships!
“The team is always in high spirits – it always supports each other! It’s been a really good build up for me, I enjoyed the holding camp, now enjoying the competition. Now the pressure’s off I can go and enjoy myself in the final.”
On the track, Laura Muir (Dundee Hawkhill; Andy Young) and Sarah McDonald (Birchfield; David Harmer) made safe passage into the semi-finals of the women’s 1500m final, but Jemma Reekie (Kilbarchan; Andy Young) was unable to follow suit.
Muir produced a measured race on her return to the track, crossing the line third in 4:07.37 while McDonald bided her time in a fast-paced first heat, crossing the line sixth in 4:04.42 after making her move into the automatic qualifying places with 150m remaining.
Reekie was in the hunt throughout her heat but found herself run out of contention in the closing stages, coming home in tenth position in 4:12.51.
Muir, who was making her return to action following a calf injury, said after the race: “It was quite a good feeling, I was quite nervous before that race. I’m usually not for the heats but I just thought it’s been so long and it felt good to be out there and I felt like myself and ‘ah’ I can still run, I can still race!
“I was fortunate I knew what the first heat had been run and that was fast and I knew I would probably have to be top six, which means you couldn’t mess around with being in the fastest loser spots. I was looking at the camera constantly and I could see that we were quite bunched.”
Eilish McColgan (Dundee Hawkhill; Liz Nuttall) and Laura Weightman (Morpeth; Steve Cram) booked their places in the final of the women’s 5000m, but teammate Jess Judd (Blackburn; Mick Judd) missed out on joining them.
McColgan front ran for much of the race and held her composure to finish fourth in 14:55.79, with Weightman pulling away to take the final automatic spot in 15:02.24 in the second heat. Judd was well in the mix through the first 3000m, but eventually finished 11th in 15:51.48.
McColgan assessed afterwards: “It was really difficult to see where we were. I kept looking up to the screen. And that last time I looked up there were eight of us, but then it was on the high jump for ages.
“I kept looking up and then on the next lap it was high jump again. Then with about 200m to go and I looked up and there were four of us away, so I backed off a little bit.”
Andrew Pozzi (Stratford-upon-Avon; Santiago Antunez) came home fifth in the semi-finals of the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.60, missing out on a spot in the final, while Rabah Yousif (Newham & Essex Beagles; Carol Williams) came home in a season’s best 45.15 in his 400m semi-final.
Meghan Beesley (Birchfield; Michael Baker) and Jessica Turner (Amber Valley & Erewash; Nick Dakin) both failed to progress into the final of the women’s 400m hurdles, Beesley clocking 56.89s for eighth place and Turner finishing seventh in 55.87s.
Tim Duckworth (Liverpool; Toby Stevenson) was forced to withdraw from the men’s decathlon prior to the competition kicking off after sustaining a leg injury whilst warming-up.
British medallists at the IAAF World Championships:
Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Dina Asher-Smith – 100m
4th Adam Gemili – 200m
4th Holly Bradshaw – Pole Vault
4th Mixed relay team
6th Zharnel Hughes – 100m
Image courtesy of the BBC & PA