Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, defending her world 200m title in a super-charged final won by Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson in 21.45 – a time only bettered by Florence Griffith-Joyner – was sincerely pleased to secure a bronze after a troubled and tumultuous interim between the 2019 edition in Doha and Oregon.
After finishing in 22.02, one place behind Jamaica’s five-time world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Asher-Smith in 21.81, Asher-Smith is now properly back in the running – and looking in a very strong position to defend her 100 and 200m titles at next month’s Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships.
“I am so happy,” she said after her race. “The calibre of that final was insane. All those women are capable of running sub-22 and I don't think we've ever been in a world final with that kind of talent.
“I definitely think we are in a golden era. It’s insane. We have not seen these times for decades and decades. But also we just haven’t seen this depth either. For me I knew that I just had to run as fast as my legs were going to carry me and really pray and hope that it was enough to get on the podium. I am so happy to have got it.”
The 26-year-old from Orpington in Kent dedicated her medal to her grandmother Sislyn, who came over from Trinidad to work as a nurse in the National Health Service as part of the Windrush generation and died earlier this summer aged 92.
Shortly after her grandmother’s death, Asher-Smith was beaten over 100m at the British Championships by Daryll Neita, but she confirmed her return to form in Eugene by finishing fourth in the 100m final where Fraser-Pryce, Jackson and five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah completed a Jamaican clean sweep, equalling her British record of 10.83.
Asher-Smith is properly back in the running – but that has involved a long and trying journey.
Having added world gold in 2019 to the European 100m and 200m titles she had won in Berlin the year before, Asher-Smith looked ready to challenge for Olympic titles in Tokyo the following summer.
Those Olympics, of course, were postponed by a year because of the pandemic, but the Brit looked ready for them early in the 2021 season as she defeated a field including Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the Gateshead Diamond League.
By the time the delayed Games arrived, Asher-Smith revealed she had only partially recovered from a hamstring injury she had suffered at the British Championships.
After failing to qualify for the 100m final she withdrew from her signature event of the 200m, but she was still fit enough to help Great Britain to a bronze medal in the women’s 4x100m.
This Brit is made of stern stuff. And she is now looking forward to defending her sprint titles at the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships but in the meantime Asher-Smith will be donning the English vest at the Commonwealth Games on home soil in Birmingham where she will contest the 100m and 4x100m relay.
Pichardo eases through to triple jump final
Elsewhere at Hayward Field, Portugal’s Olympic triple jump champion Pedro Pichardo laid down a marker of his intention to complement the world silvers he won in 2013 and 2015 with gold in Eugene, topping qualifying for tomorrow’s final with 17.16m, one centimetre more than Burkino Faso’s France-based Hugues Fabrice Zango.
Germany’s Julian Weber qualified third best into tomorrow’s men’s javelin final with 87.28m as Grenada’s defending champion Anderson Peters threw furthest, registering 89.91m, and India’s Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra registered 88.39m.
Other European qualifiers included Czech Republic’s Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch (85.23m), Finns Oliver Helander (82.41m) and Lassi Eteletalo (80.03m) and Moldova’s Andrian Mardare (80.83m).
Great Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson won her women’s 800m heat with ease in 2:00.88 while Olympic champion Athing Mu won her heat with similar ease in 2:01.30.
Meanwhile Norway’s Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, beaten to gold at that distance in Eugene by Britain’s Jake Wightman, qualified second fastest for Sunday’s men’s 5,000m – at which he is European champion – in 13:13.92, with Jacob Krop of Kenya fastest in 13:13.30.
Europe will also be represented in the final by world indoor 3000m bronze medallist Marc Scott (13:22.54) and American-based German Sam Parsons (13:24.50).