Dina Asher-Smith snatched victory in a thrilling women’s 100m to delight a home crowd at the Birmingham Diamond League.
The world 200m champion came home in 11.10, prompting a belated outpouring of delight from Great Britain’s sprint queen after the nail-biting finish at the newly-renovated Alexander Stadium, which will host the Commonwealth Games this summer.
The first major event since a lavish £72million makeover saw Asher-Smith, and Olympic finalist Daryll Neita headline in perhaps the hottest event in athletics right now.
A tinge of disappointment, following Jamaican superstar Elaine Thompson-Herah’s late drop-out due to a “discomfort” felt in training, could not remove the compelling nature of the event.
Shericka Jackosn, Thompson-Herah’s compatriot and a bronze medalist in Tokyo, was agonisingly denied victory, settling for second just one hundredth behind Asher-Smith.
While Neita was third in 11.14, leaving Gabby Thomas in fifth, in what was her second 100m dash of the afternoon.
The peculiar move to line up in the B race just an hour earlier saw Thomas attempt to sharpen up over half the distance in last week’s blazing victory in the Doha Diamond League.
The Harvard graduate left Jackson and Asher-Smith behind that evening, but roles were reversed here in a performance of real character from the home favourite.
It’s “only May”, Asher-Smith cried in the build-up to this meet, but there is plenty of potential to tap into ahead of a jam-packed summer of athletics, headlined by the World Championships in Eugene, plus Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
Conditions were fine, if not slightly blustery, while form will heat up as we enter June.
But the tantalising prospect of Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 34-year-old world record of 10.49 seconds going later this year.
Credit to Asher-Smith and others for addressing the topic head on and not downplaying it. In an event that has muscled its way to the top of running orders around the world, it would be easy for the women to downplay the potential for fireworks this summer.