Dina Asher-Smith was presented with a golden opportunity and the Briton grabbed it with both the hands as she clinched the women’s 200m title at the IAAF World Championships in Doha.
The 23-year-old was a clear favourite going into last night’s final at the Khalifa International Stadium, after reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was forced to pull out of the competition due to Achilles injury. Earlier, defending champion Dafne Schippers had abandoned her title defence after the Dutch strained an adductor muscle.
It left Asher-Smith with a chance to create history by becoming the first British woman to win a World Championships individual sprint title. And she achieved the feat in style by shaving off her personal best by 0.01 seconds to win in 21.88.
She got off to a flying start and established a healthy lead, generating speed around the bend, before cruising home. American Brittany Brown took silver after pulling away through the straight line and finished with her own personal best of 22.22 seconds, while Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji blitzed through the final 50m for bronze in 22.51.
Asher-Smith reunited with her mother after the race as the sizeable British crowd at the Khalifa Stadium roared in approval. “Normally, I’m quite chatty and everything but I’m lost for words,” she said, as the tears rolled down her face.
Poland's Pawel Fajdek celebrates after winning the hammer throw at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha
“I just don’t know what to say. I don’t think it’s properly sunk in. Between now and the last World Championships, I knew I could do it but it’s a different thing actually going and doing it,” she added.
Asher-Smith had won the 100m silver earlier on Sunday and will be hoping for another medal in the relay with the British team.
“It’s a different thing with everybody being like, ‘ah, you’re the favourite’. But you’ve still got to go and do it. You’re only the favourite if you perform as people expect you to. So, I was just really focused on putting together a great race. I dreamed of it but now it’s real,” she added.
The men’s 100m hurdles final had all the drama on the night, with Grant Holloway of the US grabbing the world title in 13.10 seconds after defending champion Omar McLeod stumbled to the finish line to come last.
The Jamaican, Omar McLeod, who is also the Olympic champion, took the lead at the half-way mark but tripped on the hurdle as he came tumbling down before the finish line.
Later McLeod was disqualified for disrupting the run of Diamond League champion Orlando Ortega in the next lane, with the Spaniard forced to settle for a fifth place after being in the second position for most of the race.
Holloway, however, was over the moon as he celebrated his victory on his Worlds debut by continuing his sprint for a further 100m before collapsing on his back.
Russian Sergey Shubenkovm running as a neutral athlete, took silver in 13.15, while European champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France finished third in 13.18.
“I am speechless, it’s my first major championships 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. I kept believing in myself, I kept focused and I stayed healthy,” Holloway said.
“I came here to win every round and that’s what I did. When you step on the line no one cares what you’ve done before. It’s all about here and now. I just took it one hurdle and one round at a time and tried to stay calm. I came out here for the final stress free. At no point in the race was I trying to figure things out,” he added.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s Asian Games Champion Ashraf Amgad El Seify finished the hammer throw final in ninth place with a best throw of 75.09. Poland’s Pawel Fajdek collected his fourth world gold medal in the event – the first man in history to achieve the feat in the hammer throw. Fajdek hurled the hammer at a distance of 80.50m. The silver went to France's Quentin Bigot (78.19m), who beat Hungarian Bence Halasz by a single centimetre.
In a huge surprise, the men’s 400m favourite Michael Norman failed to qualify for the final. The American made a quick start in the first 100m but slowed down considerably, choosing to just jog till the finish line as he finished seventh and last in the third semi-final.
Later, Norman did not specify what was plaguing him. "My body was giving me warnings, and I listened to those warnings," he said. “I had a great warm-up, felt good, but did not balance the things for a while. It is kind of devastating to come out here, work for 330 days and not make it to the final. It has been a bit up and down for a while. I am very disappointed,” he added.
Norman owned the fastest time in the world coming into the championships and won the Diamond League title just a few weeks ago. In Norman’s absence, Bahamas’ Steven Gardiner is the frontrunner for the gold, after he finished ahead of 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James in the semi-final.
In the women’s heptathlon, Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson finished the day one of the combined events with a lead of 96 points over Belgium’s Nafissatou Thaim. Wednesday, athletes competed in the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m. Today they will be in action in the long jump, javelin and 800m.
Johnson-Thompson points tally was 4138, while Thiam has 4042. In third place was Kendell Williams of the US with a score of 3855, with her compatriot Erica Bougard a further two points behind.
“I am really happy about my season bests and my performance today,” Johnson-Thompson said. “I never think of these things like where I am after the first day. I know I am in a good shape, I am where I needed to be and the way I competed. Gold - why not? I am in shape and position to do it but you never know what can happen on day two. But I have worked hard on my second day, so anything is possible,” she added.
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