Treble European champion Dina Asher-Smith is already being tipped to win the 200m at the IAAF World Championships in Doha which begin later this month but the Brit will also be a very significant factor in the 100m, particularly after an excellent win in the Brussels Diamond League on Friday (6) night.
Asher-Smith was drawn alongside the two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce from Jamaica and just when it looked as though Fraser-Pryce was going to draw clear, the Brit found an extra gear and put clear distance on Fraser-Pryce in the last 30 metres.
On a cool evening in the Belgian capital in front of another near capacity crowd, Asher-Smith improved her season’s best to 10.88 - just 0.03 off her British record which was set at the European Championships - ahead of Fraser-Pryce in 10.95. Asher-Smith also had the beating of the reigning world silver and bronze medallists Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Dafne Schippers who finished third (11.09) and fourth (11.22) respectively.
Asher-Smith, however, demurred when it was suggested she was the sprinter to beat in the short sprint.
“Don't call me the favourite for the World Championships in the 100m!” she said. "Today it was typical British weather. This is the climate I'm used to practicing in. So I took my chance.
"The World Championships will be completely different: another climate, a series of races. You can't compare that with this evening's race. Of course I'm very happy with the Diamond League win but Doha will be completely different."
While Asher-Smith has broken the sub-11 second barrier in her six 100m finals this season, Germany’s European champion Malaika Mihambo has brought a similar level of excellence on a consistent basis to the long jump in 2019.
After beginning her campaign with 6.97m and 6.99m in the first two rounds, Mihambo surpassed the seven metre-line for the sixth time outdoors this season, reaching out to 7.03m in the third round despite ceding generous space on the board. Mihambo put her tracksuit back on and elected not to jump again after her winning third round jump.
“The reason I did so few jumps was that my main focus is on training hard for Doha now, and I wanted to use as little energy as possible. The waiting for the other girls to jump maybe further than me was more exhausting than my own jumps.
“At my best jump I was 20 centimetres from the board, so there is still room for improvement,” said Mihambo.
Stefanidi and Lasitskene head to The Match in victorious form
Ekaterini Stefanidi could be seen huddled in a thick duffle coat in between attempts in the pole vault but the reigning Olympic, European and world champion still equalled her season’s best of 4.83m in spite of the unseasonably cool and drizzly conditions.
Her victory was also a notable one in the context of The Match Europe v USA which begins on 9 September. Stefanidi, who is one of the ambassadors for the event, defeated her Team Europe teammate Anzhelika Sidorova on countback and her biggest rival from the United States Katie Nageotte finished fourth with 4.70m.
While Stefanidi has competed frequently over the last month, Mariya Lasitskene was competing for the first time since winning the Russian Championships around six weeks ago but the world and European champion made a seamless return to competition, winning her tenth competition of the outdoor season.
Fellow Team Europe ambassador Lasitskene was sporting some strapping on her knee but the 26-year-old didn’t appear to be unduly hindered physically as she cleared six successive heights between 1.85m and 1.99m on her first attempts before three unsuccessful tries at 2.04m which might have come in better conditions.
Her Team Europe teammate Yuliya Levchenko from Ukraine was second with 1.97m followed by heptathlon supremo Nafissatou Thiam who cleared 1.95m to finish third against the individual specialists.
Fellow Team Europe ambassador Ramil Guliyev from Turkey was also sporting some strapping on his knee but the reigning world and European champion has also come back into some terrific for at just the right time.
Guliyev finished second to Noah Lyles from the United States - 19.74 to 19.86 - the second fastest time of his career behind his championship record of 19.76 from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin.
Another Team Europe athlete heading to Minsk with a victory under his belt is Spain's Orlando Ortega who won in 13.22 ahead of Jamaica's Ronald Levy in 13.31. Sergey Shubenkov, who is also part of Team Europe, had his best race since returning from injury at the end of last month, finishing third in 13.33.
Hassan makes it a Diamond League double with victory in the 5000m
Sifan Hassan closed with a 57.7 last lap to win the 1500m in the Zurich Diamond League last night and she produced some more scintillating pace to win the 5000m in Brussels to defeat a field which included reigning world champion Hellen Obiri from Kenya for the first time at this distance.
Hassan was slow to respond to the break on the ninth lap but her closing speed was anything but slow, crossing the finish-line in 14:26.26 courtesy of a 59.7 last lap ahead of Ethiopia's Letesenbet Gidey (14:26.26) and Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen (14:29.89), her second 14:30 clocking of the season.
It was a good last test for Doha. I really improved my last 100 metres, but it's going to be important to keep a strong pace in Doha. I really hope to win there," said Hassan, who is planning to contest both the 5000m and 10,000m at the World Championships.
Sweden's Daniel Stahl also took victory in the discus with his first round throw of 68.68m ahead of Austria's Lukas Weisshaidinger (66.03m) and Jamaica's Fedrick Dacres (66.03m).