In a night announced as a dress rehearsal for the women’s 100-meter Olympic final in Tokyo, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith turned out to be the protagonist. In brutal and biting conditions more like winter than Pentecost, Asher-Smith returned home to leave a string of top-quality sprinters in his wake.
To the casual observer, his time of 11.35 seconds might not have seemed anything special. But it was an impressive race, given that it was raining heavily and a headwind of -3.1 m / s. Most notably, she set a significant score against young American sensation Sha’Carri Richardson, who was second in 11.44 seconds, and 100-meter world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who was fourth in 11.51.
“I was really happy to start my 100-meter season with a win,” said Asher-Smith. “It was far from ideal conditions. When you go to a Diamond League event, the most important thing is to have a good career plan, keep your head well. I’m in good shape “.
Richardson’s scalp was particularly significant. The American has been burning tracks all spring, including an impressive 10.72 seconds over 100 meters in Florida. But Asher-Smith and the Gateshead climate proved to be his toughest opponent in years.
However, Richardson refused to blame the weather for his defeat, saying: “I know where my faults are. He knew how the weather was in all eight lanes. They all had exactly the same.
I want to show you that even though this is my first year doing this, I don’t just want to exist, ”he added. “I am a competitor.”
There is something else worth remembering here. American Florence Griffith Joyner also raced at Gateshead before winning gold at the 1988 Olympics, with a modest run of 11.54 seconds in a -2.0 m / s wind. Richardson and Asher-Smith headed faster into a much stronger wind. The rematch in Tokyo will be riveting and, as you imagine, it will be in 40F warmer conditions.
There was a second British victory of the night when Laura Muir lunged down the back straight to win the women’s 1,500 meters over 50 meters in a time of 4:03:73, exactly four seconds off the field.
Elsewhere, the first Diamond League game of the 2021 season proved not to be a night for fast times. For most athletes, going out without a problem counts as a good result, especially with the Olympics only two months away.
As Jamaican Stephenie Ann McPherson said after finishing second behind Ellis Kendall in the women’s 400m: “It wasn’t good running conditions, I’m grateful to come here and finish injury free.”
Everywhere, the weather turned superheroes into mere mortals. Mondo Duplantis, the world pole vault record holder, has exceeded 6.18 m during his career. Here he could only handle 5.55 m.
But to his great credit, instead of heading inside, he wrapped himself up and grabbed an umbrella for rival Sam Kendricks as he prepared to take his turn. “I’m fine, I’m healthy, that’s the main thing,” Duplantis later admitted.
It was so cold that Mariya Lasitskene, the Russian high jump world champion, started her competition wearing a hat, gloves and long tights. It usually floats calmly more than two meters. Here he retired in fourth place after missing three times at 1.91m. Ahead of her was Britain’s Emily Borthwick, who cleared a 1.91m PB, to finish second behind Kamila Licwinko of Poland.
The final British victory came in the women’s 100m hurdles when Cindy Sember was victorious in 13.28 seconds. “I’m very happy with that,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever raced in such a wind. It really could have been a lot worse. “
Sember, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics before sustaining an Achilles tendon injury, added: “I’m very excited to see what else I have in store. We’ve been training hard and my legs aren’t very sharp yet so I’m excited to see once we start preparing for the champions and everything. “
There were encouraging signs when he insisted that he had overcome his injuries. “It has been a lot of mental toughness,” he said. “I think I got over the specific injuries that I had. It’s still a daily battle with my state of mind, I’m still working on it. I am very grateful to be back. “
Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen coped better than most in inclement weather, winning the men’s 1,500 meters in the best 3:36:27 of a season, but even he admitted it had been a struggle. “This is normal weather on the west coast of Norway,” he said. “But it’s really hard to run fast in these conditions because all of a sudden if you have a sudden gust of wind, everything is ruined.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism