Asher-Smith lands first global title with 200m gold in Doha

Dina Asher-Smith
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Dina Asher-Smith stormed to the 200m title at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in a British record of 21.88

After winning silver in the 100m final, Dina Asher-Smith was in unstoppable form in the 200m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, becoming the first British woman to land a global sprint title. 

The best performance by a Brit in the 200m prior tonight was Kathy Cook’s bronze medal at the inaugural World Championships in 1983 but Asher-Smith improved by two places with a scintillating piece of sprinting which was also rewarded with a British record of 21.88 - eclipsing her previous mark which she set at the European Championships last summer by 0.01.

Asher-Smith won three gold medals at the European Championships in Berlin last summer and she is now one medal away from leaving her second successive major championships with medals from all three events. The British relay team has won medals at the last two global championships as well as titles at the 2014 and 2018 European Championships.

The prospective favourite for the 200m title ahead of these championships, Asher-Smith - who was competing in her fourth World Championships at the age of 23 - never looked daunted by this mantle through the rounds or the final, rocketing around the bend in lane seven and slingshotting into the home straight with a clear lead.

The 23-year-old never once looked like faltering, using all of her pace and power to win in a time which would have won 12 of the 16 world 200m finals prior to Doha - a rebuttal to those bemoaning the lack of depth in the event and a performance which defied the fact Asher-Smith was running on weary legs after a challenging schedule with the 100m and 200m condensed into five days.  

“I know I was tired and I woke up today knowing this was the last individual chance and this was the moment I did all my work for. This is what we knew we could achieve if the season went well and the tiredness just disappeared when I needed it to,” said Asher-Smith after her sixth races in five days, the first time she has contested multiple individual events in a major event.

“I think I have been categorised as a 200m sprinter because people are more used to seeing me over this distance at the World Championships but I think that has tended to be because I have been injured and I have gone for the event I am more confident in. It has always been my aim to be someone who can double up in the 100m and 200m and I’m glad I did that at the championships,” she added.

The best of the American triumvirate on show in the final was Brittany Brown who improved her lifetime best to 22.22 to win silver and there was a very well-received medal for Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji as well.

After finishing fourth in three events in Berlin last summer - and then missing out on a place in the 100m final by 0.001 earlier in the championships - Kambundji held on for the bronze medal in 22.51 to accompany her bronze from the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships over 60m.

“I was so happy to be in the final. I knew this was a chance for me; I just needed to do a super race and we would see what happens. It also comes with experience - sometimes you do well, sometimes you do not,” she said. “Today is the most beautiful day in my career.”

Kambundji became only the second Swiss female athlete to win a medal at the World Championships after Anita Weyermann’s bronze in the 1500m in Athens 1997. 

Sergey Shubenkov won his fourth successive medal in the 110m hurdles at the World Championships, taking silver at the end of an injury-ravaged season from the outside lane in 13.15 ahead of France’s European champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in 13.18.

Three-time US collegiate champion Grant Holloway made an immediate impact on the global stage, winning gold on his US senior debut in 13.10. 

Fajdek wins fourth successive world hammer title

Pawel Fajdek hasn’t always produced his best performances at the Olympic Games or European Championships but the Pole demonstrated the IAAF World Championships is still very much his domain. 

Fajdek, 30, won his fourth successive world title in the hammer, producing the four best throws of the final. He surpassed the 80 metre-line twice with 80.16m on his second attempt before 80.50m on his fourth attempt to become just the third thrower in history to win four successive world titles. 

“It was a very difficult season with a very good end,” said Fajdek. “I had to go from zero to 100 percent in just one year coming back from injury. I only had seven months for the preparation. I had some back problems, knee problems but that is our job to deal with it.”

The anticipated head-to-head with European champion, world leader and teammate Wojciech Nowicki didn’t quite unfold as anticipated. Nowicki initially finished fourth with his opening attempt of 77.69m behind France's Quentin Bigot (78.19m) and Hungary’s Bence Halasz (78.18m) but Nowicki was later awarded a joint bronze medal.

The Polish contingent protested that Halasz had touched the ground outside the circle with his first round medal-winning throw. Their appeal was upheld but the jury decided to award two bronze medals “in fairness to both athletes.”

Reigning world discus champion Sandra Perkovic from Croatia comfortably surpassed the automatic qualifying mark of 63.00m with her first throw in the discus, making it through to her fifth world final with 65.20m. 

The two pools were led by Cubans Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero with 67.78m and 65.86m respectively.

Steven Mills for European Athletics