Asher-Smith leads three British muses in bid for world athletics glory
Doha (AFP) –
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith will lead a trio of women with high hopes at the World Athletics Championships in Doha of heralding a new golden era for British track and field.
Asher-Smith -- who will compete in the individual 100 metres and 200m as well as the 4x100m relay -- along with Laura Muir in the 1500m and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson carry more than just pressure to win medals.
British Athletics chiefs hope the talented trio can give a boost to the sport whose public profile has waned with the retirements of 2012 Olympic gold medalists Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford while Farah is focusing on the marathon and will not compete at these championships.
Asher-Smith -- who obtained a history degree while establishing herself on the track -- was present back on 'Super Saturday' at the 2012 Olympics in London when Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon, Rutherford in the long jump and Farah in the 10,000 metres all won gold.
That night she was tasked with carrying the kit for the competing athletes at the Olympic Stadium and their success -- and especially Ennis-Hill's -- provided the drive to succeed herself.
"I remember watching Jess Ennis-Hill win her final race and thinking how incredible it was that millions of people who did not even know her could become so proud of her in that one moment," Asher-Smith told The Stylist magazine in 2016.
"I was like, 'I want to do that.'"
Seven years later and Asher-Smith could be on the brink of just that in a global championships after becoming the undisputed queen of European sprinting last year with three gold medals.
The competition in Doha is of a different calibre, not least in the shape of Jamaican icon Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and her compatriot, the double Olympic sprint champion from the 2016 Rio Games, Elaine Thompson.
However, Asher-Smith has more than held her own this season and gave Fraser-Pryce a good run for her money in the Anniversary Games in London.
"We've planned it so we work backwards from the World Championships," said Asher-Smith.
"I'll just keep training and working harder to make sure I'm in the best shape I can be."
- 'Play mind games' -
Thompson-Johnson too has memories of London 2012 having competed with Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon where she finished 13th.
The 26-year-old Commonwealth Games champion's duel with the formidable figure of Belgium's Olympic, world and European champion Nafissatou Thiam should be one of the most memorable contests.
The Briton will be encouraged by how close she ran Thiam in the seven-event discipline at last year's European Championships.
Her answer in how to finally beat the Belgian is not in the head but in the physical performance.
"Mind games is not my thing, I wouldn't know how to get into other people's heads," she told the Daily Mirror.
"Also that's happened to me before in the past and it's not a good way to try and win.
"For me you've got to try and win with big performances. I would rather focus on myself and try and make me the best I can be rather than play mind games."
Muir comes to Doha as the 1500m European champion -- the first Briton ever to hold that crown -- and having won the Diamond League title twice, in 2016 and 2016.
The big question mark hanging over the 26-year-old is her fitness as she has not run since suffering a calf injury when she won at the London Anniversary Games in July.
However, Neil Black, British Athletics' performance director, believes Muir can win a medal at last having finished fourth and fifth in the past two 1,500m world finals.
"The beauty of Laura and Andy (Young, her coach) is they are brilliant at planning," said Black.
"They know from the past exactly what Laura needs to do to get in shape to run medal-winning performances."
© 2019 AFP