Dina Asher-Smith hadn’t raced indoors since 2018 or internationally since 2019 prior to the Indoor Meeting in Karlsruhe on Friday (29) evening but the Brit brought some of the form which took her a brace of medals at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha on her season’s debut.
Asher-Smith dominated both her heat and the final in a manner expected of a sprinter who won a sprint treble at the 2018 European Championships before three medals at the 2019 World Championships. Asher-Smith opened her campaign with 7.11 in the 60m heats before stopping the clock at 7.07 in the final.
The time was corrected to 7.08 which matches her lifetime best which she ran in Glasgow in 2018 and at the 2015 European Indoor Championships in Prague where she won the first individual senior medal of her esteemed career with silver behind Dafne Schippers, her predecessor as European 100m and 200m champion.
After racing sparingly last summer, Asher-Smith said in her pre-event press conference that she is planning “a genuine attack” on the 60m this winter. The Torun 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships also feature on Asher-Smith’s tentative itinerary but next up for the Brit is the inaugural ISTAF Indoor in Dusseldorf on Sunday afternoon.
“Obviously it has been a strange year and a long time since I’ve competed on the international stage, so I didn’t know what to expect. But to open with my fastest opener ever and equal my PB was really good.
“I’ve been working hard in training and I’m happy to see some of those elements coming through. The indoor season is really important this year, more than ever, because we’ve missed a whole year of high-level competitions. I’m excited for what my next races bring.” said Asher-Smith.
France’s Orlann Ombissa-Dzangue finished second behind Asher-Smith in 7.16 just ahead of Switzerland’s Ajla Del Ponte who matched her lifetime best of 7.17.
Asher-Smith provided one of two British victories during the evening. Earlier in the programme, Elliot Giles came through the jostling on the first lap of the 800m unscatched and survived a fast halfway split of 50.94 before ploughing on for victory on his season’s debut in a world leading time of 1:45.50.
'What happened during the race was kind of funny. It was like the daily traffic in Paris and I was the scooter trying to pass through the cars. It was too much traffic,' said Giles, who was one of the eight runners in the 800m across a four lane track.
'The time is not bad, but it is just the beginning. My plan for the upcoming season is now to compete as much as possible, because we never know what is going to happen,' he added.
Lavillenie regains world lead with 5.95m clearance in the pole vault
After opening his season with a 5.92m clearance on his season’s debut in Bordeaux a fortnight ago, Renaud Lavillenie delivered another near vintage performance to regain his world lead in the pole vault.
Lavillenie wriggled over 5.92m in Bordeaux earlier this month but the Frenchman sailed cleanly over 5.95m in Karlsruhe on his first attempt. The 34-year-old didn’t record a single failure until two aborted attempts at 6.00m, a height Lavillenie believes he is capable of conquering during the indoor season.
“I wasn't expecting to be able to jump that high as soon as today. I knew that my training was pretty good, but there is usually a difference between training and the first competitions because just a few things are different.
“Two weeks ago in Bordeaux, I was able to clear 5.92 m, which is really really good, and 5.95m today was definitely unexpected. I am on a good way and I know I am able to clear six metres this winter, I just don't know when and where,” said Lavillenie.
Auriol Dongmo put together an unbeaten outdoor season in the shot put last year and the Portuguese thrower began her Olympic campaign in especially auspicious form.
After opening her series with 18.81m which would have sufficed for the victory, Dongmo improved to an outright national record and world lead of 19.65m with her second attempt.
“To compete against them puts a lot of pressure on me. I give all my best to compete well and make this happen,” said Dongmo who defeated some significant names in the context of the upcoming European Indoor Championships.
Dongmo defeated Fanny Roos by more than one metre although the Swede was still rewarded with a national indoor record of 18.64m. Former world and European champion Christina Schwanitz had to settle for fifth with 18.27m.
Full results here.