Asher-Smith blitzes field for maiden gold in 200M
Poland's Fajdek claims fourth gold in a row in hammer throw; Holloway wins 110M hurdles on low-key day.
Dina Asher-Smith crowned a wonderful personal season with a breakthrough performance on the global stage on Wednesday. The Briton, silver medallist in the 100M, ran with power and poise to outclass the field in the 200M, winning her country’s first World Championships gold medal in the event.
At the Khalifa International Stadium on the sixth day of the competition, Asher-Smith did not have a strong field to contend with, thanks to withdrawals by 100M champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and defending champion Dafne Schippers.
Fraser-Pryce wasn’t fully ready physically while the other two were hit by injuries. But their absences in no way devalued Asher-Smith’s performance as she clocked a terrific 21.88 sec, a British record, to add the world title to her European gold.
“This means a lot to me, the work I put in was worth it. I was focused on getting together a good pace. Now to the big one next year,” declared an emotional Asher-Smith, referring to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Asher-Smith collared the race early, taking a good lead into the straight after a strong start. She built on it through the straight, leaving no chance to her rivals. Behind her, Brittany Brown of the United States timed a personal best of 22.22 for the silver while Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland claimed the bronze in 22.51, the first for her country in women’s sprints.
On a low-key night, just three finals were scheduled, with focus given to the combined events. Joining Asher-Smith on the podium were Pawel Fajdek of Poland in hammer throw and Grant Holloway of the United States in 110M hurdles.
Fajdek became the first man to win four gold medals in hammer with a heave of 80.50 in the fourth round, extending his streak that began in 2013. Quentin Bigot of France nailed silver with a 78.19M effort while the bronze went to Bence Halasz of Hungary, with a 78.18M throw.
The 110M hurdles had drama and disaster in good measure. Holloway was in control right through but in the middle, defending champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica stumbled along before crashing on to the ninth hurdle. He somehow crossed the final barrier before tumbling on to the track, even as Holloway blasted away to the gold in 13.10 sec. Sergey Shubenkov of Authorised Neutral Athletes (13.15) finished strongly for the silver, ahead of Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France (13.18).
“I am speechless,” said Holloway. “It’s my first major championhips and a lot of people were counting me out because I’ve been off my game in the last month or so. But when you have motivation, you never lose,” he added.
McLeod, who had won Jamaica’s only gold in London two years ago, said he was pegged back by a hamstring strain. “I felt my hamstring as I came off the first hurdle. So I was thinking about it, not my technique,” he said.
Elsewhere, Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain put in an excellent display on the first day to take a 96-point lead over Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium in heptathlon. KJT, as the Briton is known, had a tally of 4138 as against Thiam’s 4042 after four events.
Sifan Hassan, the 10000M champion, was back on track for the first round of the 1500M, qualifying for the semfinals in 4:03.88, the quickest on the day. Hassan has been in spotlight after her coach Alberto Salazar was banned on Tuesday for anti-doping rule violations. She had issued a statement denying any involvement but refused to speak to the media after her race.
There was a surprise in the men’s 400M semifinal, with American Michael Norman, the fastest this year with 43.45 sec, failing to qualify. The Diamond League title winner this season looked totally out of sorts as he trudged to the finish in seventh place of his heat, clocking 45.94.
Kirani James, the 2012 Olympic champion who is back after battling Graves disease, qualified in second place (44.23) behind 2017 silver medallist Steven Gardiner (44.13) of Bahamas.
The world record holder in women’s 400M hurdles, Dalilah Muhammad (53.91) and her American compatriot Sydney McLaughlin (53.81) set up an intriguing clash after winning their respective semifinals. The final is on Friday.
Damien Warner of Canada led the field in decathlon after the first day with 4513 points. His compatriot Pierce Lepage followed with 4486 while France’s world record holder Kevin Mayer was placed third, three points behind.