Stellar field features British record-holder plus Jamaican sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, world champion Dafne Schippers and Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo
Dina Asher-Smith is getting ready to run ‘out of her skin’.
Returning to the scene of what she describes as one of her favourite ever races, which ended with her almost being sick on her agent’s shoes, the triple European champion will be giving it her all once again as she forms part of another fantastic field at the Müller Grand Prix in Birmingham.
That 200m in 2015 saw Asher-Smith race American sprint great Allyson Felix for the first time and her efforts were rewarded with a then PB of 22.30 as she finished third, just one hundredth of a second behind both Jeneba Tarmoh and Felix.
Since then the Briton has improved the national record to 21.89, while her fine recent form has seen her dip under 11 seconds for each of her 100m races and win two Diamond League 200m tests.
“One of my favourite races that I ever ran actually was in Birmingham when I first raced Allyson (Felix),” Asher-Smith says with a smile. “I ran a massive PB out of nowhere and I almost threw up on Ricky’s shoes afterwards – I was so dead!
“I remember running out of my skin here before and obviously I got rewarded with a massive PB so I’m coming to run out of my skin again tomorrow.
“I’m naturally quite a chilled and quiet person but I’m fiercely competitive so wherever I step on the track, every time I step on the line I step on there to win.”
Asher-Smith’s aim is to take on both the 100m and 200m at the IAAF World Championships in Doha and Sunday’s race in Birmingham will certainly provide a taste of what could be to come.
To her left will be multiple Olympic and world gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and to her right, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
Joining them on the start line will be two-time world champion Dafne Schippers, current world No.2 Blessing Okagbare, world silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou and US champion Dezerea Bryant.
“It’s going to be such a good race tomorrow. The field is packed,” adds Asher-Smith. “I’ve been fortunate to be racing around the Diamond League circuit this year with so many fantastically talented and incredible women and this race is obviously no different.
“I’m so glad to be running at home – I love running in the UK. I’m really happy that I’m getting to run in the UK later in the season, closer to the world championships. It’s not quite a final goodbye before Worlds but it’s as close as we can kind of get to that.
“I’ve had a good season so far. I don’t think I’ve had a 100m or 200m record like this before a major championships ever before. I’m just hoping that I stay healthy and fast and that the world championships will be a good one for me.”
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 17, 2019
The fact that the Blackheath & Bromley sprinter is yet to peak brings a smile to the face of her coach, John Blackie, she says.
“Just to be in this position and to have opened up so quickly and still be in shape, still be fit, still be healthy and still be focused, I’m definitely taking that as a blessing,” she explains.
“After 2017, breaking my foot and then making the world champs, that taught me a lot about myself. I don’t take my own health and my body for granted. The fact that I’ve been able to stay under 11 seconds (for 100m) is great – I really want to stay sub-11.
“If next week (at the British Championships) there’s torrential rain and a headwind, I’ll be fuming, but I’ll still be going for it!”
Asked whether a win on Sunday is a real statement of intent ahead of the world championships, she replies: “Every race is a statement of intent but in all honesty, whoever wins tomorrow, it just means they are the best tomorrow. When it comes to the world championships, it’s a different kettle of fish.”
That sentiment was echoed by Fraser-Pryce.
“You can rack up a lot of wins on the circuit but when it all matters is at the world championships and that’s where my mind and my focus is,” the Jamaican told media at the pre-event press conference.
“Racing with talented athletes like Dina and Shaunae is definitely something that you can look forward to for the world championships, so there’s no surprises when you get there.”
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 17, 2019
» Click here for our online preview to the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham and see the latest edition of AW magazine for more