Dina Asher-Smith eyeing a chance at redemption in the women’s 4x100m relay as Team GB star looks to put rotten start to Tokyo Games behind her and finish on top of the podium
A golden redemption? On the basis of Dina Asher-Smith’s return to the scene of such misery, it suddenly appears quite possible that she might yet take something shiny away from these Olympics.
It has been a rotten trip for Asher-Smith, who arrived at the Games out of condition after a hamstring injury, and it has been largely underwhelming for a wider squad of 75 that has been exposed far too often here for its lack of elite-level compatibility.
But an exciting chance for a happier ending will present itself in the women’s 4x100m relay final on Friday, in which Asher-Smith, Asha Philip, Daryll Neita and Imani-Lara Lansiquot will be among the favourites.
Dina Asher-Smith (centre left) is eyeing a medal in Friday’s 4x100m relay final alongside Asha Philip (left), Daryll Neita (right) and Imani-Lara Lansiquot (centre right)
That status can be derived both from Asher-Smith’s continued involvement in the team, and by extension how they performed in setting a national record of 41.55sec to win their heat, which included the US and Jamaica.
If there has been any hangover from Asher-Smith’s 100m heartbreak and her decision to withdraw from the 200m, then it wasn’t obvious in a smooth run in the third leg. By then Philip and Lansiquot had opened a lead, Asher-Smith expanded it and Neita, a 100m finalist, sealed the victory.
Asher-Smith, who won bronze in the discipline with Neita and Philip at Rio 2016, said: ‘That is where my head has been for the past week. It hasn’t been about the 100m or 200m.
‘It has been about me getting back on the training track and making sure I bring my A-game to this race. After the 100m I did say there was no way I wasn’t going to be here for the 4x100m girls.’
Asher-Smith suffered heartbreak in the 100m semi-final which saw her withdraw from 200m
It has been a rotten trip for the Team GB star, who has struggled with injuries in Tokyo
While the relative merits of relay medals in place of individual successes is open to debate, Britain will take what they can get at this point, even with the boost of Holly Bradshaw’s bronze on Thursday.
For that reason, Team GB will also be sweating on a podium finish in the men’s 4x100m. The quartet of CJ Ujah, Richard Kilty, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake clocked 38.02 to qualify from their heat in second.
Laura Muir will start as a strong contender for at least a bronze in the final of the women’s 1500m on Friday. While Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan are expected to scrap for gold, Muir has an excellent chance of a first Olympic medal, five years after going gut-or-glory with a breakaway in Rio and falling to seventh.
In the men’s 1500m, Josh Kerr, Jake Heyward and Jake Wightman all qualified for Saturday’s final.
Possibilities of a medal should not be discounted from that cluster.
There was no medal, just misery for Katarina Johnson-Thompson who spelt out her Olympic heartbreak on Thursday after her calf went during the heptathlon.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson pulled up with a calf injury during the heptathlon on Thursday
In a statement raw with honesty, the 28-year-old detailed the ‘miracle’ she required to get to Tokyo after a ruptured achilles, before saying she felt within reach of a medal when her right calf failed in the 200m on Wednesday.
‘Only a handful of people understand what I have been through,’ she said. ‘Even a smaller amount understand the mental and physical challenges I’ve faced.
‘To make it to the line was a miracle, but to be putting a decent score together is heartbreaking. I believed I was capable of winning a medal despite having up to half a year of missed training.
‘I’m proud I showed up, put myself out there and tried. It would have been very easy to shy away.
‘I hate that my story has played out in more heartbreak. I’ve been knocked so many times and got back up, but it will take a lot of time for me to process this reality.’