17th July 2022
ASHER-SMITH AMONG THOSE TO IMPRESS ON DAY TWO OF THE WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie, club: Blackheath & Bromley) and Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers) clocked their second-fastest ever 100m times to scorch through the heats on Saturday night at the World Athletics Championships Oregon 2022.
Asher-Smith, who ran her 100m personal best enroute to world silver in 2019, laid down a marker with the fastest qualifying time of them all.
The 26-year-old ripped 10.84 (+1.2) to win the fifth heat, a mere tenth of a second shy of that Doha lifetime best and a massive season’s best.
She said: “I honestly did not expect that time but at the end of the day we are looking to go faster so I am excited.
“What I needed to do was qualify and win my heat. I’m coming here as a reigning world champion and a world silver medallist so the aspirations are high for me.
“I knew I’d been waiting all season to peak for this. I’ve got some more to give, but I’m happy that I nailed all the essential bits today.”
UK champion Neita continued her superb season so far by advancing joint-fourth fastest to Sunday’s semi-finals, 0.02 seconds short of her own lifetime wind-legal mark.
The 25-year-old followed Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) home to second in her heat in a time of 10.95 (-0.2).
Neita said: “I feel really super good. It’s nice to get the first round out the way because obviously it’s just getting your foot in the door.
“I am happy to come out of that with a seasons’ best – a decent, fine run actually and I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Stuart McMillan, Sutton & District) ran 11.24 (+0.7) crossed the line fourth in the opening heat, missing out on the semi-finals.
Meanwhile on the men’s side Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet) did not advance to the 100m final, clocking 10.13 (+0.1) for third in his semi-final.
Hughes stumbled on his fifth stride, recovering to pass Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Jamaica’s Ackeem Blake, but couldn’t advance from a race controlled from the front by USA’s eventual world champion, Fred Kerley, and Christian Coleman.
Hughes said: “It was a misstep that cost me the race. I couldn’t do anything about it. I tried my best to get back into it, but the gap was just a little too much to close.
“When it happened I just tried to stay relaxed, and rely on my top-end speed. I know I can close the field because I am one of the fastest finishers out there, I’d have caught them.”
It was job done for Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) who negotiated a stacked semi-final to book her place in Monday’s showpiece.
Muir began at the back and started to draft Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) at the halfway mark as they took the bell in a tick over 3:00.00.
The Scot followed the Ethiopian home and held off Australia’s Jessica Hull to finish second in a season’s best time of 4:01.78.
Muir said: “Considering that’s the fastest I’ve run all year, I’m feeling pretty good. I didn’t think that was 4.01, it felt easier than that so that’s a really good sign.
“Hopefully it’s fifth time lucky for getting on that podium as I’ve not medalled yet at the Worlds.”
Muir has finished fifth (2015), fourth (2017) and fifth (2019) in her three previous World Championship final appearances over 1500m and her latest shot at glory comes on Monday.
There was to be no spot in the final for Katie Snowden (Herne Hill) on her World Championship debut as she came home tenth in a scrappy second heat in a time of 4:08.29.
The Scottish trio of Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh), Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh) and Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas, Giffnock North) all advanced from heats into Sunday’s men’s 1500m semi-finals.
Gourley left it late to secure the sixth and final automatic qualifying spot in the opening heat.
He stayed out of trouble in the middle of the pack and was tenth at the bell, at which point he took a wider line to compete with the leaders.
The 27-year-old checked back inside on the home straight and unleashed a kick to cross the line in 3:36.54.
Gourley said: “There were some mistakes, I was on the wrong end of some small battles in the race. I ended up having to move a bit too late when everyone else was already moving.
“Going wide is not how I like to race but I’m glad I ticked that box and I’m moving on to the semi-finals. There’s nothing better than rectifying those mistakes in the next round, and that’s what I plan to do tomorrow.”
Wightman’s progress was a routine affair as Australian Stuart McSweyn’s front-running strung out the field.
The UK champion, owner of the second-fastest time in the world this year, jogged in alongside Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, with 3:35.31 good enough for fourth.
Wightman said: “I just wanted to see what happened and get myself through as comfortable as possible from that. I was pretty content that whether it went quick or slow I’d be able to get myself through in the top 6 there.
“I’m happy enough with it. That’s the tough bit now to focus on tomorrow as we haven’t got a rest day.”
In the third and final heat Olympic bronze medallist Kerr grasped the initiative after a ponderous first 800m, controlling from the front and finishing flamboyantly first in 3:38.94.
Kerr said: “I took it on with about 600m to go because it was quite slow, and I felt really good, and no one really came up onto my shoulder so you can’t really ask for much better than that in the first round.
“I had fun – there are a lot of Brits out here, so I wanted to put on a bit of a show for them. The next couple of rounds are more important. I need to be more focused for those.”