Dina Asher-Smith became the first British athlete to win a world 200m title, dominating the final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha tonight.
The result seemed inevitable after Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and dual world champion Dafne Schippers withdrew with injuries, but the 23-year-old Briton still had to deliver and she did, winning by five metres in a personal best time of 21.88.
Nominated as one of the ten most marketable sports stars in the world by industry specialist Sportspro earlier this year, Asher-Smith is living up to that billing. But she confessed she had felt the weight of favouritism to win her first world title, after breaking through to claim the silver medal in the 100m earlier this week.
“Normally I’m quite chatty and full of energy but it’s a different thing with everyone saying you’re the favourite,” she said.
“You’re only the favourite if you go out and perform how people expect you to and I was really focused on putting together a good race. I dreamt of this but now it’s real.”
Brittany Brown of the United States took silver in a personal best of 22.22, with Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji adding world to her European bronze in 22.51.
Young US sprint hurdler Grant Holloway put his college days behind him by claiming his first world title in a dramatic 110m hurdles final tonight.
Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica crashed through the final barrier while striving to stay with Holloway and fell into the next lane, impeding Spaniard Orlando Ortega. The Spanish team appealed the result, requesting that the race be re-run, but their claim was rejected by the jury of appeal.
Holloway, 21, crossed the finish line in 13.10 and just kept running in his excitement, only pulling up half-way down the back straight, where he burst into tears and the chasing pack of photographers caught up with him.
Perennial contender and 2015 world champion Sergey Shubenkov crossed second (13.15), with France’s European champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde finishing third (13.18).
In the first final of the night, Poland’s Pawel Fajdek became the first man to win four world titles in the hammer with a best effort of 80.50m, joining the four-peat club established by Christian Taylor (triple jump) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (100m) this week.
France’s Quentin Bigot took silver with 78.19m ahead of Hungary’s Bence Halasz, who had a best of 78.18m. The Polish team later lodged a protest, claiming Halasz had touched the ground outside the circle on his first attempt. The jury of appeal concluded that fourth-placed Wojciech Nowicki had been disadvantaged and, in fairness to both athletes, decided to award bronze medals to both Nowicki and Halasz.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Britain carries a lead of 96 points over Belgium’s defending champion Nafissatou Thiam into tomorrow’s concluding day of the heptathlon, her first-day total of 4138 points being the fourth best ever achieved.
The world, European and Olympic champion is in silver-medal position on 4042, with three United States heptathletes bunched behind – Kendell Williams on 3855, Erica Bougard on 3853 and Annie Kunz on 3840.
Despite producing a personal best in the opening event of the decathlon, defending champion Kevin Mayer of France stands third overnight on 4483 points behind the Canadians Damian Warner, who has 4513, and Pierce Lepage, who has 4486. The world record-holder, however, is still on course for victory as some of his strongest events will be held on day two.
The decathlon and heptathlon are being held on the same two days for the first time at this championships, creating a dedicated stage for the competition to crown the world’s best all-around athlete.