She started in cross-country. She has won at national, continental and Commonwealth level on the track. She is a jazz aficionado. And now Dina Asher-Smith is a world champion.
Last night’s 200 metre final was never in doubt. By the time Asher-Smith came out of the bend, the gold medal was hers, the rest of the field trailing well behind as she stormed up the straight to win in a British record time of 21.88 seconds – becoming the first individual sprint world champion from these shores.
And for all the talk that Asher-Smith’s main rivals had either pulled out or been disqualified – namely Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Dafne Schippers, Blessing Okagbare and Elaine Thompson – and Diamond League 200m winner Shaunae Miller-Uibo opting out before the championships and thus handing her the gold, the Briton still had to beat the other seven women. And she had to work for it. Brittany Brown of the USA finished second, 0.34 seconds behind, with Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji taking bronze.
Asher-Smith said through tears: “It means so much. I woke up today and thought ‘this is it, this is what you have worked for’. I am lost for words. I have dreamt of this but now it is real. I will use it as motivation for getting to the big one [the Tokyo Olympics] next year.”
Asher-Smith, who took the silver medal in the 100m on Sunday, is just the seventh British woman to claim world gold, joining Fatima Whitbread, Liz McColgan, Sally Gunnell, Paula Radcliffe, Christine Ohuruogu and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson is also daring to dream of world gold after an impressive first day in the heptathlon.
The 26-year-old Briton has 4,138 points and the overnight lead following the opening four events at the Khalifa International Stadium. She holds a 96-point advantage over Olympic and defending champion Nafi Thiam. The pair remain a class above the rest of the field, with the United States’ Kendell Williams in third, 187 points behind Thiam. And Johnson-Thompson, pictured, will allow herself to dream of victory overnight.
She said: “Why not? It’s something that I’m aiming to do. It’s something I’m in shape to do and I’m in a very good position to do it. But you never know with these things on day two. I’ve worked very hard on my day two so we’ll see what happens.
“I know I’m in good shape and I can contend. I don’t think ‘I need to be in the lead by this many points’. Apart from the 200m it was a great day. It’s just the halfway point, another day to negotiate tomorrow but I’m in a good position.”
Johnson-Thompson, who came second to Thiam at last year’s European Championships, excelled ahead of today’s long jump, javelin and 800m.
She posted two personal bests in the 100m hurdles and shot put.
The World Indoor pentathlon champion made the perfect start to kick-start her bid for gold with a huge lifetime best of 13.09 seconds in the 100m hurdles.
Johnson-Thompson appeared shocked by the time after winning her heat. She then went blow for blow with Belgium’s Thiam in the high jump, with both finishing with clearances of 1.95m.
In the shot putt, one of Johnson-Thompson’s weaker events, she shone again to throw a personal best of 13.86m, to come second behind Thiam, who registered 15.22m.
In the 200m she clocked 23.08secs, a season’s best, to win heat three.
Johnson-Thompson added: “That’s a great day. It’s a season’s best in 200m, but obviously it isn’t where it was in the last couple of years.
“It’s obviously something I need to work on next year. There were PBs in other events so I’m over the moon.”