Another day, another fourth but don’t doubt Dina Asher-Smith is the real deal after a storming run at the IAAF World Championships in London.
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Asher-Smith, in her third successive global final, became the fifth British athlete to finish fourth at these Games, in the 200m. But the fact she was even in the race remains a story worth telling.
When she broke the navicular bone in her right foot during a February gym session, doctors told her season was over. She didn’t listen.
When she finished sixth in the national championships just seven weeks ago, seasoned observers wrote her off. She didn’t listen.
But as the crowd roared her on and chanted the name of the local London girl – a kit carrier at the 2012 Olympics – she was listening then alright.
“I didn’t know I was in that shape and to see I missed out on a bronze like that, I am frustrated but then quite happy that I’ve run that fast having broken my foot this year,” she said, after clocking 22.22 seconds in a race won by the Netherland’s Dafne Schippers.
“I was so happy to be here and just told myself to go out fast, the crowd were getting louder and louder so I knew I was doing well, and I kept going for it, it was so close. To run 22.2 is faster than I ran last season and close to my PB, so I am over the moon.
“We’ve have had a lot of fourth places but they’ve come from young people who will be at many championships to come.”
Asher-Smith, 21, is the latest athlete to just miss the podium at these Games but that roll-call of near misses represents encouraging signs for the future. Not everything can be judged in gold, silver and bronze.
All of them – Asher-Smith, Laura Muir, Callum Hawkins, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Kyle Langford – are far from the peak of their powers and their day will surely come.
Asher-Smith has long been viewed by British Athletics as a special talent – the perfect poster girl for a sport in transition as the big names of recent years come to the end of their careers.
The King’s College history graduate – who will look to add to her Olympic bronze in the 4x100m relay – couldn’t walk for three months after her injury, her recuperation involving walking, jogging and running under water. She didn’t return to track sessions until two months ago.
“I’m a London girl, I’d have done anything to make these championships and just stepping on the track meant so much, I would’ve been happy if they’d just selected me for the relay” she said.
“When I was in hospital after the accident, I’d have thought you crazy if you’d said I’d finish fourth in a world final. But fourth still isn’t a medal, so it’s back to work.”
Elsewhere, Nick Miller finished sixth in the men’s hammer final while earlier in the day Robbie Grabarz qualified for the high jump final and decathlete Ashley Bryant ended the first day of the decathlon in 16th place.
British long jump champion Lorraine Ugen, who finished fifth at the World Championships two years ago, repeated that performance on home soil.
But in nine jumps here she posted six fouls, a struggle with consistency she admits will hit her medal prospects unless fixed.
She said: ”Two years ago I was really happy to finish fifth in the world but my feeling right now is just disappointment, which underlines how far I’ve come and what my expectations now are.”
And on a night full of drama Lynsey Sharp was given a reprieve after initially being disqualified from her 800m heat for an alleged push, only to be reinstated after an appeal from British Athletics and make the final as a fastest loser.
You can help the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with London 2012 hero Greg Rutherford MBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.
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