Team GB's Dina Asher-Smith suffers first defeat of the year but qualifies for next round in 100m

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Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain competes during round one of the Women's 100m heats - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain competes during round one of the Women's 100m heats - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

It would be foolish to write off Dina Asher-Smith on the basis of one Olympic 100 metres heat, even if it did see her beaten for the first time this year. But if there were question marks over her medal credentials before arriving in Tokyo, they have only increased now.

Asher-Smith, a perfectionist in every element of her life, does not do defeat. So easing down to clock 11.07 seconds and finish behind America’s Teahna Daniels was somewhat alarming in itself. As was only advancing joint-11th fastest across all the heats.

Is the “grumpy” hamstring that caused her to withdraw from her final Olympics preparation run still giving her problems? Perhaps.

Of greater concern were the performances of her medal rivals on a startling opening session of the Olympic athletics programme. That six women broke 11 seconds was eye-catching in itself, but it was the manner in which some of them did so that sent alarm bells ringing.

Dina Asher-Smith on the track - GETTY
Dina Asher-Smith on the track - GETTY

Reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah was jaw-dropping in running 10.82sec despite visibly putting on the brakes 20 metres from the line. One can only wonder what she is capable of running if she goes full pelt for the entire race.

It was the fastest 100m opening-round time in Olympic history for all of 16 minutes, until Marie-Josee Ta Lou, of the Ivory Coast, went even quicker to win her heat in 10.78sec into a slight headwind.

That was then followed by double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce appearing to jog more than half of her race and still manage 10.84sec.

Despite Asher-Smith’s repeated insistence that she is a championship performer who will deliver when it matters, that must be a real concern for someone bidding to become the first British woman to win an individual Olympic sprint medal for 61 years.

Incredibly, she was not even the quickest Team GB runner, with Daryll Neita becoming only the second British woman in history to break 11 seconds. Her time of 10.96sec to finish second behind Ta Lou was a huge personal best, while Asha Philip also progressed.

Nonetheless, Asher-Smith insists she is not concerned. “It felt good,” she said. “It felt good to be out here and to finally get going. It’s just great to finally get my Olympics underway.

“Today was just about making it through to the next round safely at the same time as knowing I’ve got another level to give tomorrow so I am really happy.

“And I do have another level - of course I do, it’s an Olympics.”

Neita said: “I don’t want to say it, but it felt like it could have been better. Obviously I’m really grateful and really happy. Under 11 seconds is where you need to be heading into the final.

“I came here telling myself I have to be in that final. I don’t see any way other than that, honestly, so this is a great stepping stone. I’m more than capable.” Britain will also be fully represented in the women’s 800m semi-finals after 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson, Jemma Reekie and Alex Bell all advanced from Friday morning’s heats.

Jemma Reekie impressed for Team GB - REUTERS
Jemma Reekie impressed for Team GB - REUTERS

Reekie dictated her heat to triumph in 1.59:97 - the second-fastest time of the round - while British champion Hodgkinson came second in hers in 2.01:59.

“This is so much bigger to what I have been used to,” said Hodgkinson. “Everyone watches the Olympics, it is big for everyone. I’m enjoying it and taking it all in.

“The semis are the hardest as everyone wants to be in that final. It will be a bit of a battle. I definitely would like a medal. But it will be really difficult.”

Asked about her shoes, which are covered from toe to heel in messages, she said: “They are cool, aren’t they? My friends and family put good luck messages and some stuff to do with me.

“I have got Manchester United on there, the Red Devils. A little crown. Stuff like that. They look cool as they look a bit different.”

Zak Seddon, one of six British athletes forced to isolate in their room for the past fortnight, failed to advance from the 3,000m steeplechase heats, ending his Olympics before he had even finished his quarantine period.

Having been identified as close contacts of a positive Covid case unconnected to Team GB on the flight over to Tokyo, the athletes have only been allowed out of their rooms to train apart from the rest of the athletics squad.

Their quarantine period finally ends on Friday night, but Seddon will fly home after finishing 14th in his heat.

Zak Seddon's Olympic dream is over - REUTERS
Zak Seddon's Olympic dream is over - REUTERS

“I couldn’t see the logic behind it but rules are rules and if I want to show up here and run at the Games I have to abide by them,” he said. “If some have to suffer for the many I suppose that’s better than everyone not having a Games.

“It’s not been great and mentally it’s been hard here, there and everywhere. But some athletes are going to get easier rides than others.”

Competing at his first Olympics, high jumper Tom Gale jumped 2.28m to secure his place alongside the world’s best in Sunday’s final.

Athletics: day one, as it happened

05:01 AM

An eventful start...

It's been an action-packed start to the athletics programme in Tokyo. The highlight from the opening session was the heats for the women's 100m, when we saw some scorching times and some eye-catching performances. The 100m final is gearing up to be a do-not-miss event.

From a British point of view, Dina Asher-Smith secured her passage to the next round with a second-place finish and without having to push herself too hard.

However, based on what we've seen thus far, she'll face some stern competition in the next round.

Dina Asher-Smith during the heats - GETTY
Dina Asher-Smith during the heats - GETTY

04:44 AM

Men's 400m hurdles heats

World-record holder Karsten Warholm eased through his heat in a time of 48.65 seconds. He was followed across the finishing line by Ireland’s Thomas Barr.

However, the fastest time of the round belonged to Abderrahman Samba of Qatar. He clocked 48.38 seconds in the opening heat.

Rai Benjamin won his heat in 48.60 seconds, but Warholm will be confident of claiming gold after easing to victory.

Karsten Warholm cruises to victory - GETTY
Karsten Warholm cruises to victory - GETTY

04:22 AM

GB interest in women's 800m

There are six heats in total and Alexandra Bell of GB will be desperate to progress to the next round. She's up in heat five, while Keely Hodgkinson is in heat four and Jemma Reekie is in heat six. What can they do in Tokyo?

Well, Reekie has secured a comfortable route to the next round, with a victory in her heat. Hodgkinson achieved a second-place finish, meaning she's also qualified.

And although Bell finished her heat in fourth place, she still progresses to the next round.

Keely Hodgkinson leads the way - GETTY
Keely Hodgkinson leads the way - GETTY

04:16 AM

Women's 800m heats

Right, away from the thrills of the women's 100m and we're turning attention towards the heats for the women's 800m.

Only three go through to the semi-final automatically in each heat, so the pressure is on from the start.

04:10 AM

Heat seven result in women's 100m

Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago wins heat seven, ahead of Shericka Jackson of Jamaica. They both failed to break the 11-second barrier, but will be thrilled to have progressed.

04:03 AM

Asha Philip qualifies in second

GB has another qualifier for the next round and another second-place finish. This time it's Asha Philip, meaning Britain now has three women in the semi-finals.

However, that heat was noticeably slower than the ones we've seen before.

Asha Philip in action - REUTERS
Asha Philip in action - REUTERS

03:56 AM

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's opportunity to impress

What can the Jamaican sprint legend do in her heat?

10.84! And that was an absolute cruise! We've already seen some great times and some effortless performances in the heats, and Fraser-Pryce looked very smooth.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her heat in style - REUTERS
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her heat in style - REUTERS

03:53 AM

What can Daryll Neita achieve?

GB's Daryll Neita is up in heat four. What can she do? Well ... it's another second-place finish for a British sprinter, as she qualifies for the next round.

However, Marie-Josee Ta Lou is the star of heat four, as she came home in a time of 10.78 seconds. And actually, she even had time to check over her shoulders.

03:46 AM

Jamaican star dazzles in Tokyo

Elaine Thompson-Herah gave the impression of having plenty of speed left in the tank, despite recording a very impressive time in the first round.

That kind of performance is sure to have impressed her rivals, with the women's 100m gearing up to be one of the standout events of the Games.

Elaine Thompson-Herah storms to victory - AFP
Elaine Thompson-Herah storms to victory - AFP

03:38 AM

Elaine Thompson-Herah breezes through

Now, our attention turns to Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica.

And she cruises through to the next round in impressive fashion, recording a time of 10.82. She made that look effortless, really. Seriously impressive stuff.

Elaine Thompson-Herah impresses - REUTERS
Elaine Thompson-Herah impresses - REUTERS

03:23 AM

Athletics correspondent Ben Bloom...

Not quite what we expected from Dina Asher-Smith, who suffered her first defeat of the year in the 100m heats. Was she taking it easy? Without a shadow of a doubt. But as someone who prides herself on perfection, she will not be happy with finishing second behind America's Teahna Daniels.

The winning time of 11.04 seconds was pretty quick for a first round, while Asher-Smith looked to have plenty in the tank as she eased down on her way to 11.07sec.

Should we worry? Not at all. You don't win or lose medals based on your performance in the opening round. But it wasn't quite the cruise control victory we had anticipated.

03:21 AM

Asher-Smith through to the next round!

Job done as far as Asher-Smith is concerned!

The Brit finishes second in her heat, behind Teahna Daniels of the US. I'm sure she'll be relieved to have got that race out of the way and she can now focus on the next round.

Dina Asher-Smith secures qualification - GETTY
Dina Asher-Smith secures qualification - GETTY

03:19 AM

Asher-Smith in heat one

Dina Asher-Smith is up in heat one in the women's 100m and she'll be looking to make a good impression here. Here we go...

03:11 AM

A potential golden girl?

Dina Asher-Smith is, of course, one of the biggest medal hopes for Team GB at these Games. But before Asher-Smith and the rest of GB can start dreaming, she needs to book her place in the next round.

She is seeking to make history in Tokyo by becoming the first British woman to win an individual sprint gold at the Olympics. And her journey starts today.

Dina Asher-Smith - GETTY
Dina Asher-Smith - GETTY

03:01 AM

Time for the 100m heats

Right, the focus has now turned towards the women's 100m heats. GB's Dina Asher-Smith will be looking for a smooth ride into the next round...

02:41 AM

Tom Gale confirms qualification

GB's Tom Gale has secured his place in the high jump final. The 22-year-old from Bath recorded a jump of 2.28m to progress into the final.

Tom Gale progresses in Tokyo - GETTY
Tom Gale progresses in Tokyo - GETTY

02:29 AM

Athletics correspondent Ben Bloom...

Not quite the return to athletics that Lawrence Okoye had dreamed of.

The London 2012 Olympian quit discus throwing after those Games and moved to America where he spent a few years playing NFL. He didn't quite cut it at the very top of the American football world though, so decided to give athletics another crack and managed to qualify for these Tokyo Games. But his stint did not last long.

He failed to record a legal mark with all three efforts in discus qualifying and will now head home early.

Lawrence Okoye in action - AFP
Lawrence Okoye in action - AFP

02:24 AM

Lawrence Okoye is out

Lawrence Okoye's Olympic dream is already over after he failed to register a throw in the discuss qualifying. That'll be a tough pill to swallow for the Brit, no doubt.

Lawrence Okoye's Olympic heartache - GETTY
Lawrence Okoye's Olympic heartache - GETTY

02:19 AM

Keely Hodgkinson advances in women's 800m

GB's Keely Hodgkinson has secured her place in the semi-final of the women's 800m.

The 19-year-old athlete came second in her heat in 2:01.59, finishing just behind American Raevyn Rogers.

Jemma Reekie has also secured her place in the next round, winning her heat in a time of 1:59.97. Alex Bell finished fourth in her race, but still has a good chance to progressing, after recording a time of 2:00.96.

02:08 AM

What are Dina's realistic prospects in Tokyo?

Asher-Smith is the greatest female sprinter Britain has ever produced.

She confirmed her status as a potential world-beater when she claimed three gold medals (100m, 200m and 4x100m) at the 2018 European Championships. A year later she won world 200m gold and 100m silver, breaking her own British record in both records.

The Briton is high on confidence and knows how to perform on the biggest stage.

02:00 AM

Dina's bid for Olympic glory

Dina Asher-Smith is in action for the first time at the Games later today.

The 25-year-old star will be eyeing a medal in the women's 100m, but she first needs to secure her passage into the next round. She'll be on the track at around 3.40am BST.

Golden girl? - GETTY
Golden girl? - GETTY

01:45 AM

Women's 800m heats

Right, the action is moving on at pace inside the stadium, as it's now time for the women's 800m heats. Keely Hodgkinson will be first up for Team GB, as she'll be racing in heat four. The teenager will be expecting to progress as, on paper, she's the fastest in the field.

Alex Bell and Jemma Reekie will also be in action later in the session.

01:30 AM

Surreal setting in Tokyo

It's a hot day in the Japanese capital and it must be said that the scenes inside the stadium appear somewhat surreal.

The athletics programme has started against the backdrop of thousands of empty seats. It's all very far removed from what the athletes may have imagined a few years ago.

The view inside the stadium - REUTERS
The view inside the stadium - REUTERS

01:22 AM

Lawrence Okoye feels the heat

Lawrence Okoye failed with his first throw, meaning he'll be feeling the pressure with his second effort.

Elsewhere, things are looking better for Tom Gale, who has cleared 2.21m in the high jump.

Tom Gale in action  - REUTERS
Tom Gale in action - REUTERS

01:09 AM

Men's discuss action

Lawrence Okoye is, perhaps, one of the most interesting members of Team GB.

He previously eyed a career in the NFL - yes, that's right - and now he's competing in the men's discuss in Tokyo. His is certainly an intriguing career path.

Lawrence Okoye starts his Olympic journey - GETTY
Lawrence Okoye starts his Olympic journey - GETTY

12:59 AM

Too much too soon?

After setting the early speed, Zak Seddon slipped down the field and ultimately finished the race well outside the qualification places. It was a brave effort, but perhaps a little too aggressive from the Brit.

Zak Seddon in action in Tokyo - REUTERS
Zak Seddon in action in Tokyo - REUTERS

12:53 AM

Zak Seddon starts strong

GB's Zak Seddon has set the tempo in heat two of the men's steeplechase. It's an aggressive policy, but is he going to pay for this approach as he nears the finish line?

Meanwhile, in the high jump, Tom Gale has cleared 2.17m with his opening effort.

12:46 AM

GB's Phil Norman misses out on qualification

Phil Norman has failed to progress from heat one in the men's steeplechase. The Brit finished well down the field and never really threatened to qualify, in truth.

Remember, only the top three in each heat are certain of a spot in the final, meaning there's little room for error.

Heat one of the steeplechase - AP
Heat one of the steeplechase - AP

12:37 AM

A quiet start to the session

Athletics correspondent Ben Bloom gives his early thoughts...

Session one of the Olympic athletics programme is underway and it is ... somewhat underwhelming so far.

The bigger the venue, the more you feel the lack of crowds. This place holds 65,000, which is a hell of a lot of empty seats.

The first races of the competition were in the women's 100m preliminary round, mainly contested by athletes who have been given spots under the 'universality rule' which allows countries to be represented in Tokyo regardless of their ability.

It's a cracking day out for them and the third heat saw Houleye Ba of Mauritania break her personal best... by finishing last in 15.26 seconds. Job done, I suppose. Can't do much more than that.

12:30 AM

What else is scheduled on day seven?

As mentioned, the men's high jump is currently underway in the stadium. But later in the morning session, we have the men's steeplechase to looking forward to, with GB's Phil Norman in action in heat one.

Elsewhere, Lawrence Okoye is seeking to qualify in the discuss competition, and the likes of Keely Hodgkinson, Alex Bell and Jemma Reekie will be desperate to progress from the women's 800m heats.

Later on, it'll be Dina Asher-Smith's turn to do her thing, as she starts out on her quest for glory in Tokyo.

12:23 AM

Start of a busy day

The action is underway in the stadium, with various heats and qualifiers scheduled for the next few hours. At the moment, we have the men's high jump and the discuss qualifiers taking place.

We also, of course, have the women's 100m prelims, as we gear up for what could be one of the highlights of this year's Games.

Dina Asher-Smith in action - AFP
Dina Asher-Smith in action - AFP

12:07 AM

Go Dina, go

Hello track fans!

World 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith begins her bid for Olympic glory in the 100m heats this morning as all eyes turn to track and field.

And GB Olympic champion Mark Lewis-Francis has tipped her to end Britain's sprinting medal drought and bring home gold from Tokyo.

The 25 year-old Team GB athletics captain is attempting to become the first British woman to win a medal in either of the sprints since Dorothy Hyman took silver and bronze in 1960.

Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is favourite to add to her 100m titles in 2008 and 2012 having clocked 10.63 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in history, just last month.

But Lewis-Francis, who anchored Great Britain to the 4x100m relay gold medal at the 2004 Games in Athens, believes Asher-Smith will step up to the mark on the biggest of stages.

"She's a championship performer," Lewis-Francis said. "When she goes out there she puts everything on the table. She's an amazing athlete and an amazing person.

"If she goes out there and she runs her perfect race she can achieve a gold medal, definitely."

Team GB might be hard pushed to match their haul of seven track and field medals in Rio, but Lewis-Francis feels there are plenty of opportunities for success, not least in the shape of 800m hopeful and fellow Birchfield Harrier Elliot Giles.

"We've got a talented young team, quite a few athletes are predicted to get medals so my hopes are really high for them," he added.

"They've got good management, good coaches and with them being able to focus on their events with no distractions because they have had to isolate, they are going to have time to think and time to put everything they've done over the last four or five years into perspective and go out there on the field and achieve their goals.

"There's a young Birchfield Harrier competing, Elliot Giles. He's come a long way this season.

"I think he's got potential to go out there and achieve really well and embrace the Games."

Sixty-year wait

Since Dorothy Hyman won 100m silver and 200m bronze in 1960, no British woman has finished on the podium in either of those two events.

Dorothy Manley and Audrey Williamson, with silver in the 100m and 200m respectively in 1948, are the country's only other individual female medallists while the women's 4x100m relay has brought Britain two silver and six bronze medals in Olympic history.

Indeed, since Kathy Cook finished fourth in the 200m and Heather Oakes seventh in the 100m in 1984, even British finalists have been a rarity.

Asher-Smith finished fifth in the 200m in 2016, joining only Abi Oyepitan as a British finalist in that event since Cook's run, while Jeanette Kwakye - sixth in 2008 - is Britain's lone 100m finalist in the 37 years since Oakes.

Christine Ohuruogu won 400m gold in 2008 and silver in 2012, with Katharine Merry in 2000 matching Cook's 1984 bronze in that event. Ann Packer and Lilian Board won silver in 1964 and 1968 respectively.

Asher-Smith's medal haul

Asher-Smith contributed to one of those Olympic relay medal performances, joining Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Daryll Neita to finish third on her Olympic debut in Rio - four years after serving as a volunteer kit carrier at London 2012.

She had already won relay bronze at the 2013 World Championships and 60m silver at the 2015 European Indoor Championships, but 2016 marked her true emergence as a force on the international stage.

That year's European Championships brought her first major gold medal, in the 200m, as well as relay silver - the latter feat matched at the 2017 World Championships.

Having won 200m bronze and relay gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, she dominated that year's European Championships with triple gold in the 100m, 200m and relay.

Asher-Smith's run of success continued at the 2019 World Championships in Doha with British records of 21.88 seconds to win the 200m and 10.83sec in the 100m for one of her two silver medals, the other coming in the relay.

She was crowned Diamond League 100m champion the same year, winning the season final in Brussels in 10.88sec. She has gone within three hundredths of that as one of three sub-11 second runs this year and arrived in Tokyo with a 200m season's best of 22.06sec.

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