Dina-Asher Smith became Britain’s first female 100m medalist at a World Athletics Championships but she had to settle for silver behind the brilliant Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
The triple European champion was bidding to become the nation’s first ever female 100m champion at world or Olympic level – and indeed just the fourth of either sex behind Linford Christie (1992 & 1993), Allan Wells (1980) and Harold Abrahams (1924) – and rose to the occasion by lowering her British record to 10.83s.
It just wasn’t quick enough to prevent two-time Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce storming to her fourth 100m world title (2009, ’13, ’15, ’19) in a time of 10.71 as she became the oldest winner of this event at 32.
The Jamaican superstar, who missed the 2017 season due to pregnancy of her son Zyon, has also won two 100m Olympic crowns (2008 & 2012), a 200m world title (2013) and three 4x100m golds (2009, 2013 & 2015) during a glittering career.
Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou took bronze with reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson fourth.
It’s a staggering historic achievement for the 23-year-old to soar to such a level considering the closest the nation has ever come to celebrating a female sprint champion were silver medals in the 1948 London Games (Dorothy Manley in the 100m and Audrey Williamson in the 200m) and 1960 Olympics (Dorothy Hyman in the 200m).
The best a British female sprinter has ever previously done in the world championships was the 200m bronze medal that Kathy Cook earned in the very first staging back in 1983 and until tonight, Team GB never had a 100m finalist.
While Asher-Smith isn’t a world champion yet, her best chance to change that will come in the 200m – for which she is bookies favourite to win Wednesday night’s final should she quality as expected.
No British man has ever won 200m gold in the Olympics or world championships either, so success will enhance her history-making exploits even further.
Asher-Smith’s performance again underlines her supreme mental strength to deliver her best despite her relative inexperience having last year refused to buckle under the pressure by winning the European 100m, 200m and 4×100 titles last year.
She told BBC Sport: “I’ve worked so hard for this, I’ve worked so hard for this championships, this point in my career and hopefully I’ll go on to do bigger things.
“When I stood on the line I was thinking ‘right this is your time to go’ and I was really, really happy that I came away with a PB and national record, that is more than you could ever hope for in a world final.
“I’m a championship performer, I’m a competitor, I would have loved to win today, anybody in that race would have loved to win, but Shelly-Ann did an absolutely fantastic performance and that’s why she has so many titles and is an absolute legend.”
It was also Great Britain’s 100th medal at the World Championships since it started in 1983.
But it was another embarrassment for the IAAF with the Khalifa International Stadium virtually empty for the final.
Asher-Smith now turns her attention to the 200m, with the heats in Doha on Monday, and she is favourite to win gold.
Source: Chris Hammer