The women ‘s 100m in Gateshead is a must-see event!
When do sprinters get to run cross country?
Well, kind of! Wind, rain, cold, not a hot spring day in Los Angeles, California, but a cold spring day in Gateshead, England.
Stuart Weir puts it all together in this piece 5, as he writes about some of his favorites in the past and present and athletes that he has just met.
Gateshead DL 100m Women, Sha’Carri Richardson, May 23, 2021, photo by Diamond League AG
Gateshead DL 100m Women, Dina Asher-Smith, prelims, photo by Diamond League AG
Women’s 100 meters – pointers to Tokyo?
Dina Asher-Smith takes the Gateshead 100m, May 23, 2021, photo by Stuart Weir
Home favorite, Dina Asher-Smith, won the women’s 100 meters at the Gateshead Diamond League.
The result was
1 Dina Asher-Smith 11.35
2 Sha’Carri Richardson 11.44
3 Marie-JosÃ©e Ta Lou 11.48
4 Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce 11.51
5 Blessing Okabare 11.57
6 Javianne Oliver 11.58
Ignore the times, it was cold, wet and athletes were running into a -3.1 wind. Dina, who has a way with words, said the “conditions were far from ideal for sprinting”. There were two prelims as well as the final. They were run into a -4.2/4.4 wind with Dina again fastest in 11.45.
Dina Asher-Smith won the Gateshead DL 100m, photo by Diamond League AG
What the race told me is that all of the top six are serious sprinters and it would be no surprise to see all of them in the Tokyo final. The excellent British athletics writer, Ben Bloom, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the race provided “irrefutable proof that Dina can beat Sha’Carri Richardson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce over 100”. I think that is reading a lot into it as Dina beat Shelly in the 2019 Diamond League final but was well beaten in the world championship 100m final and in all their other 1-2-1s that year.
Dina Asher-Smith battles Marie Jose Ta Lou and Blessing Okagbare, Gateshead 100m, photo by Diamond League AG
As my old friend, Kriss Akabusi, used to say, they don’t give out medals in May. In other words, don’t read too much into early season races when some athletes are more race-sharp and some have taken a race in full training while others have tapered more. This was SAPF’s first 100m of the year and in very un-Jamaican conditions.
Sha’Carri Richardson, 2nd in the Gateshead 100m, photo by Diamond League AG
I remember in early 2020, chatting to Shelly-Ann about the balance between getting older compared to being experienced. Her view was: For me, there is no disadvantage. I see it as a blessing to be able to challenge for a fourth Olympics. Having had the experience of different Olympic scenarios, I plan on drawing on all those experiences. Because I know what it takes, whether I’m coming back from an injury or feeling injury, under pressure or feeling pressure – I have experienced all of that and all that experience will definitely help me to stay focused and to know what to expect and to know what to do and what not to do, leading into the Olympics.” Admittedly that was in relation to a 2020 Olympics, not 2021.
Dina Asher-Smith flies down the Gateshead DL straight, taking a masterful 100m, photo by Diamond League AG
For Dina Gateshead was her first elite race in Britain since 2019 and her first race in Gateshead since English schools 2001. That she won the school’s title enabled Geoff Wightman to call her “undefeated in Gateshead.”
Before the race, Dina had played down the significance of a one-off race in May saying that her aim was just “to put together everything I have had time to work on that during the pandemic to produce a great race” adding “there are a lot of very talented women and I’m pleased to be part of it. This is just the start of the season and we will continue to see very good races”.
A smiling sprint warrior, Dina Asher-Smith, Gateshead DL, May 23, 2021, photo by Diamond League AG
Asked what the difference between the 2019 Dina and 2021 Dina, she replied that she was now a lot stronger. This is one of those interesting variables. In 2020 Dina did not race at all – apart from two local 150m races, meaning that she has effectively trained continuously from winter 2019 through to now. We will begin to see how well athletes have used lockdown. I was also impressed by her mindset. Asked about Sha’Carri, Dina commented on the Mt Sac race saying “It is lovely to see someone putting a race together in such a lovely technical way” before adding: “But at the same time I will always back myself! I’m a competitor”.
So what can we say about the Olympic women’s 100m final – well that it will be very competitive with most of the top six in Gateshead likely to be involved. Dina Asher-Smith was a medallist at the 2019 Worlds but, arguably, she looks stronger now. Sha’Carri Richardson has shown herself capable of running really fast races in America but has no experience of running rounds in a global championship. Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce has been the dominant woman sprinter in the world for the past decade and more. She has been there and done it before BUT she is not 34. Arguably this year’s women’s 100m Olympic final could be the race of the year with several strong contenders.
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