Dina Asher-Smith beats Sha’Carri Richardson in Gateshead Diamond Leagueon May 23, 2021 at 7:40 pm

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Dina Asher-Smith blitzes to 100m victory in Gateshead to beat American pretender Sha-Carri Richardson in her first real test of 2021.

Asher-Smith powered home in 11.35 seconds, 0.11 seconds clear of in-form Richardson, the fastest woman this year.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Jamaican world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce were also left trailing by Asher-Smith.

Scotland’s Laura Muir stormed through the rain to an emphatic 1500m win.

Asher-Smith hardly raced in 2020, restricting herself to three low-key outings on her home track in Bromley. Instead the 25-year-old concentrated on building her strength and technique, with recent training sessions featuring 300 reps of abdominal strengthening exercises.

That extra power was clear as she held off Richardson, who has dipped under 10.80 three times already this season, in the final 20m.

Asher-Smith, who won 100m silver as well as the 200m title at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, played down any psychological impact the result could have on her Olympic rivals. Both she and 21-year-old Richardson intend to run the 100m-200m double in Tokyo.

“I think all in all today was more of an experience,” she said. “The only thing that can indicate Tokyo is the Olympic final itself.

“I feel really good. Conditions were far from ideal for sprinting but the most important thing is to come away with a good result and a win and I was very happy to do that.”

Muir ‘really, really pleased’ with victory

European champion Muir, one of the few other Olympic medal threats in the British team, was four seconds clear of her nearest challenger Rababe Arafi of Morocco, with Muir’s fellow Briton Katie Snowden in third.

But, with the like of the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan absent, Muir knows there will be stiffer tests to come.

“I’m really, really pleased,” she said after clocking 4:03.73.

“I just wanted to sit in and use my strength over the last half, which I did. I did feel it in the home straight and it was a shame it was that last 100m as well when you’re tiring, but I still felt really strong.”

Cindy Sember provided the crowd with another British victory to cheer as she took the 100m hurdles ahead of sister Tiffany Porter in fourth.

Adam Gemili, who missed the podium by the narrowest of margins at Rio 2016, looked well short of that form as he finished sixth in a 200m race won by American Kenneth Bednarek.

Sophie Hahn – winner of the T38 100m at the 2016 Paralympics – took victory in 13.31 in the opening race of the day.

Kendricks & Ingebrigtsen triumph in the rain

Mondo Duplantis holds an umbrella for Sam Kendricks

Elsewhere, American world champion Sam Kendricks beat Swedish world record-holder Armand Duplantis in the latest instalment of their pole vault rivalry. The pair took turns to hold umbrellas over each other as steady rain made conditions tricky in Gateshead.

Kendricks won with 5.74m to the 5.55m of Duplantis, who thought he had cleared 5.80 with his last jump, only to see the bar wobble then fall.

Norway’s double European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, produced a commanding performance to win the 1500m in 3:36.27, commentating afterwards “this is normal weather back in the west coast of Norway – I’m used to these conditions.”

But world champion Mariya Lasitskene saw a 14-event winning run come to an end in the high jump as Poland’s Kamila Licwinko triumphed, with Britain’s Emily Borthwick finishing second with a personal best of 1.91m.

The meeting marked the return of world-class athletics to Gateshead for the first time since 2010. The venue stepped in when Rabat was unable to host the first Diamond League of the season because of coronavirus restrictions.

The north east predictably proved colder and wetter than north Africa, but a socially-distanced sell-out of 2,000 fans were loud and enthusiastic regardless.

What’s next?

The next round of Diamond League action is in Doha on Friday and you can watch it live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and online from 17:00 BST.

You can also watch live coverage of Great Britain competing at the European Team Championships on Saturday and Sunday on the BBC Sport website and app.

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