Dina Asher-Smith misses out on British gold rush

·4-min read
Gold medalist Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland and Silver medalist Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain cross the finish line during the Athletics - Women's 200m Final on day 9 of the European Championships Munich 2022 at Olympiapark on August 19, 2022 in Munich, Germany - - GETTY IMAGES
Gold medalist Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland and Silver medalist Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain cross the finish line during the Athletics - Women's 200m Final on day 9 of the European Championships Munich 2022 at Olympiapark on August 19, 2022 in Munich, Germany - - GETTY IMAGES

After winning European 1,500 metres gold and starting to watch the British medals pour in, Laura Muir made an early-evening prediction: “This could take over from Super Saturday [at London 2012],” she said, jokingly. Not quite.

While Britain did add five medals to their European Championships haul, including golds for Muir and Zharnel Hughes, there was a tinge of disappointment at the end of an otherwise Fabulous Friday inside Munich’s Olympias

tadion when Dina Asher-Smith unexpectedly failed to retain her 200 metres title.

It has been a time of great trials and tribulations in recent weeks for Asher-Smith, who has now relinquished both her European 100m and 200m crowns. She missed the Commonwealth Games with a hamstring injury suffered at the World Championships and then pulled up halfway through Tuesday’s 100m final, later revealing the cramp she suffered in both calves was due to her period and calling for more funding to help sportswomen tackle the physical effects of their menstrual cycle.

She showed few ill effects in the first half of Friday night’s 200m final, flying out of the blocks and leading off the bend, only to find herself reeled in by Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji, who triumphed in 22.32 seconds. Asher-Smith clocked 22.43sec for silver and immediately departed the track without celebration.

“Obviously I came here to win so I’m not super happy,” she said. “Mujinga put together a better race. She’s been improving for ages, so congratulations.

“I really thought I was in a bit better shape, but at the same time I came second so it is what it is. I’m happy to be here, but not so happy with silver.”

Asked whether her period was still hampering her, she said: “No, I felt fine. Mujinga ran very fast and that’s just what it was.”

Having clearly surpassed European standard long ago, Muir’s 1,500m victory came as no surprise. The manner of her triumph was vintage Muir, settling in last place for the opening 600m before surging all the way to the front, again waiting patiently and finally blasting away from the pack in a sudden electric burst just before the bell.

Ireland’s Ciara Mageean tried, but failed, to stick with her. Muir triumphed in 4-1.08 to add European gold to the world 1,500 bronze, and Commonwealth 1,500m gold and 800m bronze she had already won over the past month.

Gold medalist Laura Muir of Great Britain celebrates after the Athletics - Women's 1500m Final during the European Championships Munich 2022 at Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany on August 19, 2022 - GETTY IMAGES
Gold medalist Laura Muir of Great Britain celebrates after the Athletics - Women's 1500m Final during the European Championships Munich 2022 at Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany on August 19, 2022 - GETTY IMAGES

“I’m used to feeling tired through training and racing, but that was something else with three champs,” said Muir. “I think to medal in all three in itself is a lot. And to do the double in the Commies and win two as a favourite brought an extra level of pressure. I’m just so pleased. I couldn’t have wished for more.”

Despite failing to deliver on the global stage in recent years, Hughes claimed 200m silver at the Commonwealth Games and has now added European 200m gold to the 100m silver he won earlier in the week - three medals in less than a fortnight.

Zharnel Hughes, of Great Britain, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 200 meters during the athletics competition in the Olympic Stadium at the European Championships in Munich, Germany, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022 - AP
Zharnel Hughes, of Great Britain, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 200 meters during the athletics competition in the Olympic Stadium at the European Championships in Munich, Germany, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022 - AP

On a chilly night, he ran a season’s best 20.07 seconds to triumph ahead of British team-mate Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who took silver.

“It’s an amazing night,” said Hughes. “I told my guys I was going to do great things. After the 100m, after losing out on a gold medal, which was pretty close to my sights, I used that as redemption for the 200m.”

There was also a discus bronze for Lawrence Okoye, who left athletics for American football after competing at the London 2012 Olympics, only to return in 2019 when he failed to crack the NFL. He won Commonwealth silver earlier this month and threw 67.14m to claim bronze in Munich - Britain’s first ever European discus medal.