The 25-year-old, from Orpington, insisted she was on her “absolute A-game” having moved on from an Olympics nightmare that saw her withdraw from the 200 metres after suffering a hamstring injury before the Games.
The world champion pulled out of her favourite distance after failing to reach the 100m final last week. But the star made a stunning comeback this morning, running the third leg as Britain’s 4x100m team set a new national record of 41.55 seconds to win their heat.
Asher-Smith and her three teammates — Asha Philip, 30, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, 23, and Daryll Neita, 24, all from London — qualified fastest for tomorrow’s final ahead of the USA and Germany. She said: “After the 100 metres, I did say, ‘There was no way I wasn’t going to be here for the 4x100 girls’.
“I’ve been training really hard this week. I only had one day off and John [Blackie, her coach], had me back on the training track and essentially all I do need is a few more weeks, a few more sessions of training.”
She added of the big race: “It (winning a medal) would be absolutely amazing but again that is not the thing I think about right now. It is about staying focused. That is where my head has been for the past week. It has been about me getting back on the training track and making sure I bring my absolute A-game to this race.
“Of course, it (a medal) would mean incredible things to everybody. To get that we have to stay focused and make sure we execute and do what needs to be done.”
Philip, a member of the squad who won bronze in Rio, said: “A medal is definitely on the cards for us. I never like to jinx it... but seeing that and the time. I saw Dina get the baton and she is sprinting round that bend and we know how great she is on that top bend. Daryll was capable of bringing it home. It was a good race, a nice warm-up for us. We were up at 4am, on the 6.40am bus and started warming up at 7.30am. All these times we haven’t seen in a while.”
Favourites Jamaica came third in their heat but will be boosted by the likely return of 100m gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won silver on Saturday. Team GB’s men’s 4x100m relay team finished second in their heat to reach the final.
CJ Ujah, 27, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, 27, Richard Kilty, 31, and Zharnel Hughes, 26, clocked 38.02 seconds.
There was more medal success for Team GB with track cyclist Matt Walls, 23, winning a sensational gold in the omnium. It came after sprint canoeist Liam Heath, 36, won bronze in the K1 200m, and brought Britain’s medal haul to 50. Heath, from Guildford, clocked 35.202 seconds to finish third behind Hungary’s Sandor Totka, with Italian Manfredi Rizza taking silver. It was his fourth Olympic medal after successes at London 2012 and Rio five years ago, making him Team GB’s most successful paddler of all time.
Boxer Galal Yafai, 28, of Birmingham, will compete for gold in the 52kg flyweight division after a relentless display against Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov.
Yafai will now face Carlo Paalam of the Philippines for the gold medal on Saturday.
“I was working in the Land Rover factory in Solihull, Birmingham. I was working there, grafting, picking up boxes, dreaming of being at the Olympic Games,” he told reporters.
“I got to Rio a year later, it didn’t work out for me, I waited five years, an extra year and it’s paying off for me now. I was doing the rubbish, delivering parts, just the skivvy jobs really, but now I’m on the verge of being Olympic champion, so I thank God,” he said, beaming.