Dina Asher-Smith insists she is not bothered by the recent glut of super-fast times her Olympic medal rivals keep producing and backs herself to beat them when it matters in Tokyo, writes Ben Bloom.
Earlier this month, Jamaica’s double Olympic 100 metres champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran 10.63 seconds to move second on the all-time list, a feat matched over 200m by Gabby Thomas who clocked 21.61sec to win the American title.
Jamaican duo Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah have all gone below 10.80sec over 100m this season, but Asher-Smith’s best over the shorter sprint is 10.91sec set in the British Championships semi-final. An initial clocking of 10.71sec in the final was revealed to be a timing error, with her winning time in fact 10.97sec.
The two women’s sprints events are likely to be some of the strongest on the Olympics athletics programme. However, Asher-Smith is yet to lose a race and secured a notable victory over Fraser-Pryce and Richardson in abysmal weather conditions at the Gateshead Diamond League last month.
Despite not yet managing to match the feats of the women she defeated that day, Asher-Smith says she takes confidence from what they have since achieved in perfect conditions and on some of the world’s fastest tracks.
“I’m in great shape,” she said. “We all run in different continents, in different conditions, but when you all meet that’s what really matters.
“It’s great to see that when you perform against different people and they go and run different stuff in different conditions, it does give you indicators of where you are and what you can do. Obviously, the true test is when you’re all together and what you perform like under the circumstances.
“The women have been running incredibly quickly this year, and it’s amazing for world sprinting. I always back myself because I know what kind of shape I’m in.
“Sometimes I run into champs ranked way down. Even when I broke my foot [ahead of the 2017 World Championships], I just about qualified and then I managed to come fourth. I’m a championship performer. I definitely have faster in me.”
Asher-Smith always delivers when it matters – but will be desperate to match rivals’ super-quick times
Analysis by Ben Bloom
The shriek Asher-Smith emitted after the clock erroneously displayed 10.71sec as she crossed the line to win the British 100m title told a story.
Here is an athlete who feels in the shape of their life. She has not been defeated by a single woman in any race this year, and yet with every passing week she seemingly falls further down the pecking order for the sprint events in Tokyo.
To have run 10.71sec was her definitive response and she was clearly elated as she jumped up and down in celebration. And then she was not.
It was actually a timing error, and Asher-Smith’s correct winning time was 10.97sec. Another victory, another sub-11sec run, but another missed opportunity to prove she can match the rapid times being run by her American and Jamaican rivals.
There is much truth in Asher-Smith’s assertion that she will deliver when it matters. She has proven it throughout her career and her victory over Richardson and Fraser-Pryce when coping with horrific conditions in Gateshead was unequivocal.
It is also true that unlike her rivals, who invariably run on super-fast tracks in glorious weather, Asher-Smith has to contend with Britain’s more temperamental climate, while the British Championships were run on a Manchester track primarily used for training and therefore built to be spongier than most.
The fast times will come. Asher-Smith is in no doubt, and most observers would agree. She will only get quicker between now and Tokyo. But her aborted celebrations spoke volumes. There is a scratch there that Asher-Smith would dearly love to itch.
When is the women’s 100m final?
The women’s 100m actually gets underway on Friday, July 30 in the morning session in Japan (01:00-04:30 BST) with first round followed by the semi-final and final the next day. So that’s Saturday July 31, both in the second session of the day. (11:00-13:55 BST). The actual final will be run at 13:50 BST on Saturday July 31.
Where is it taking place?
Aside from the marathon and race walk, all athletics events will be taking place at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
Where can I watch it?
Eurosport are the main European rights holders for broadcasting the Olympics this year although the BBC will still be covering the big moments, such as the ceremonies, across their channels.
With Eurosport you will need a subscription. You can add it to your Sky, BT or Virgin contract or sign up to Eurosport Player for direct access.
Telegraph Sport will also be running a live blog of both Opening and Closing Ceremonies, so make sure you bookmark this page.
What are Dina Asher-Smith’s chances?
The fastest British woman in history has been in good form this year as she prepares for a shot at sprint gold in Tokyo. She won 100m silver and 200m gold at the 2019 World Championships, and is also set to compete in the relay event with Team GB.
Olympic medals cannot be won or lost in May, but it was impossible to ignore the importance of such an emphatic win when Asher-Smith beat both Sha’Carri Richardson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce over 100 metres at Gateshead. However conditions were dire and both have since gone much faster, meaning Asher-Smith will be under no illusions she needs to raise the bar again.
Who else will be in the mix?
America’s newest star Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100m at the US Olympic trials in 10.86 seconds – the sixth fastest time in history – drawing comparisons with Florence Griffith-Joyner, the 1988 Olympic champion, and 10.49secs world record holder.
However she cannot now compete in the 100m event in Tokyo after testing positive for a chemical found in marijuana. Richardson tested positive at the Olympic trials and so her result is erased.
The 21-year-old accepted a 30-day suspension that ends July 27, which would be in time to run in the women’s relays, however she was not picked for the US team for that either.
In Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asher-Smith faces an old adversary who has often proven the benchmark to success throughout her career. The Jamaican is a double Olympic 100m champion and has won four of six world titles available since 2008.
Fraser-Pryce, 34, was comprehensively beaten by Asher-Smith at Gateshead, but in her home country in Kingston she set down a real marker ahead of Tokyo 2020. Her time was behind only Florence Griffith Joyner’s 10.49s set in 1988.
And don’t discredit fellow Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, who won 100m and 200m gold at Rio 2016. World bronze medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, of the Ivory Coast, will also be in the mix.