Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie; club: Blackheath & Bromley) claimed her sixth career World Athletics Championships medal with a brilliant bronze in a hotly-contested women’s 200m final in Oregon.
Asher-Smith, who finished fourth in the 100m five days ago, ran a superb race from lane three to banish that pain – a medal always looking like the end result for the Brit after a strong start out of the blocks at Hayward Field.
Her time of 22.02 seconds was her second quickest of the year, just behind her 21.96 effort in the semi-finals, with bronze taking her individual career medal tally from World Championships to three and overall to six, also pushing the British team’s total in Oregon to three.
Earlier, world indoor bronze medallist Marc Scott (Jerry Schumacher; Richmond & Zetland) did enough to qualify for the men’s 5000m final as a non-automatic qualifier while there was a clean sweep of Brits through to the women’s 800m heats.
Jemma Reekie (Andy Young; Kilbarchan) was the quickest of the four Brits in second fastest overall, Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter; Leigh) won her heat, Ellie Baker (Jon Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) also qualified automatically and Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson; Pudsey & Bramley) was the right side of a wait on her progress as a non-automatic qualifier.
Asher-Smith stormed out of the blocks and was positioned extremely well coming out of the bend. It was clear from there that it would be a three-way battle with the Brit alongside the Jamaican pair of Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Jackson would take gold in a Championship record 21.45 with newly-crowned 100m champion Fraser-Pryce second in a season’s best 21.81 before defending champion Asher-Smith came in third with 22.02, a tenth clear of fourth.
“I am so happy. The calibre of that final was insane,” said Asher-Smith, whose World Championship medal tally now reads one gold, three silver and two bronze. “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.
“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. I thought I got it, but I was like ‘let me just see it in writing’, there is nothing more embarrassing than celebrating without seeing it in writing.”
An hour before that final, World indoor bronze medallist Scott found he couldn’t keep pace with an eventual lead group of six in the second of the men’s 5000m heats but did enough to qualify for his first major championship outdoor final as a non-automatic qualifier.
Benefitting from being in the second heat after a slow first involving teammates Andrew Butchart (Gary Lough; Central) and Sam Atkin (Mike Collins; Lincoln Wellington), Scott was eventually eighth in 13:22.54 to advance to the final.
Butchart, with a season’s best 13:31.26, and Atkin, with a 13:34.36, unfortunately missed out, their times outside those good enough for non-automatic qualification, and Scott said: “I’m happy enough with achieving my main aim of reaching the final.
“It’s always nice to see a ‘q’ next to your name. Ten of us broke away and we were well up on the times of the first heat. I knew I was capable of running under 13:24, so it is nice to get a run out of the way.”
At the start of the session, Olympic silver medallist Hodgkinson helped lead the clean sweep of Brits reaching the women’s 800m semi-finals as she avoided some chaos behind her to win the second of six heats comfortably in 2:00.88.
Hodgkinson said: “I wasn’t expecting it to be such a quick pace at 400m and I am just happy to get through. Poor Catriona [Bisset, who fell behind her], hopefully something is done about that, I really think she should be reinstated.
“I got my ankle clipped a few times but I’m grateful to come through safely. I am healthy, my body is in one piece, ready to go, just taking it round by round. I’m really pleased to get through to the next round, and control it to get into the top three.”
She wasn’t the quickest of the quartet however, that was Reekie who was the first up in the opening heat. Training partner to world 1500m bronze medallist Laura Muir (Young; Dundee Hawkhill), Reekie was back to her very best as she finished second in 1:59.09.
Reekie ranked the second fastest overall and said: “I felt really good, and I felt strong, I’m excited to take that on to the semi-final and hopefully do the same again and get myself to the final on Sunday.
“I felt really confident in myself and strong and relaxed. That’s what I have needed all season, to go out there and feel myself and I went out and felt really good. I’ve been waiting patiently all week to get started and I’m excited I’m on my way now.”
Baker was drawn in arguably the toughest heat, alongside Olympic champion Athing Mu and reigning world champion Halimah Nakaayi, but kept pace with them and found a clear lane down the home straight to complete a great race in third in 2:01.72.
She said: “I am really happy with the way that went, I sort of got in a bad position, but it was going through pretty quickly, so I didn’t panic. I thought a few of the girls would die and I could pick them off and it worked out. Sometimes being at a championships people can panic, and I think it’s just about being patient and believing in the work you’ve put in.
“For me getting through British Championships was the hardest part because three of our girls were in an Olympic final last year. You know if you can get through a British Championships then you’ve got a very good chance when you get here so I was really happy with the way that went.”
Bell was the last of the four British girls to go in the fourth heat and pushed herself into second ahead of the last 200 metres but would drop to fourth at the line – outside the automatic qualifying positions – to face an agonising wait on progression.
In the end her 2:01.25 comfortably saw her through and she said: “I think it will get better with each round. I feel like I was aggressive and decisive when I wanted to make a move. I am generally pleased with how I raced it.
“Although I’ve been to a number of championships over the last four years, this is really only the second one to have a big crowd at it. It gave me so much energy and it heightens everything. The adrenaline is pumping. I felt like I could hear my family roaring with 200m to go and I used it to get me through the last bit of the race.”
Unfortunately the British men’s 800m pair of Kyle Langford (Bigg; Shaftesbury Barnet) and Daniel Rowden (Matt Yates; Woodford Green Essex Ladies) did not advance from the semi-finals to the final later in the day in Oregon.
Langford sat near the back at the bell in the first of three semi-finals before trying to go wide on the back straight in an attempt to move through the field. However there was too much to do, despite his strong final kick, with 1:45.91 and fourth place not enough.
He had hope ahead of the final semi-final but it wasn’t to be and Langford said: “I’ve just been struggling to get out over the first 200m. I’m not getting out really bad, but everyone else seems to be getting out quick and its slowing down a lot later. I find myself at the back having to work quite hard.
“I’m finishing strong and I’m feeling good again by then, I don’t know if it is a result from having had Covid after the British Champs, there is no point in trying to find excuses because I’ll never know.”
Rowden meanwhile got off to a steady start before hitting traffic on the back straight. Like Langford he had a strong kick and grabbed third in the second semi-final but similarly his time – 1:46.27 – wasn’t quick enough to progress.
Ben Williams (Aston Moore; City of Stoke) was also bidding for a final in the men’s triple jump. Struggling with injury, he fouled his first two efforts and unfortunately couldn’t make the World final with his third landing at 15.98m.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland Medal tally
Gold: Jake Wightman – 1500m
Bronze: Dina Asher-Smith – 200m
Bronze: Laura Muir – 1500m