Sprinter shows fantastic form at World Indoor Tour in Birmingham but has resisted temptation to do next month’s European Indoor Championships in Istanbul
If the indoor season offers clues as to how well an athlete will run outdoors, then Dina Asher-Smith is set for a potentially special summer after a spectacular showing at the World Indoor Tour Final in Birmingham on Saturday (Feb 25). The 27-year-old clocked a British 60m record of 7.03 in her heat before a decisive victory in the final in 7.05.
Behind her, fellow Brit Daryll Neita was runner-up in 7.13 with Destiny Smith-Barnett of the United States third in 7.15 and world 200m champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica fourth in 7.18 as European 100m gold medallist Gina Luckenkemper wound up seventh.
“I am really happy,” beamed Asher-Smith. “I was actually coming here for 6.9 so I have really mixed emotions, though. I know I had it in me but ultimately the big aim is the World Championships in Budapest so I have to channel that and push on to the outdoors.”
At the start of the year Asher-Smith said “I’m not an indoor champs kind of girl” and she reminded everyone in Birmingham that she had not run an international indoor championships since 2016. Given this, she will not be at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul in a few days’ time.
“Honestly we don’t ever really peak for the indoors. Everybody’s different. And I think every athlete uses it in different ways because indoors for most of us is always a pathway to outdoors,” she said.
Asher-Smith likes to stick to her winning habits and routines. Another is the presence of her family supporting her at events. Here in Birmingham they were cheering their daughter from the stands but has her mum, Julie, ever missed her race?
Yes, Asher-Smith revealed, at the 2011 European Youth Olympic Festival in Turkey. “My mum didn’t watch and I didn’t run well so she’s tried to be at my races ever since.”
The men’s 60m was less clearcut as Charlie Dobson won in 6.64 from Adam Gemili’s 6.68 but only after Jeremiah Azu, Ojie Edoburun and Richard Akinyebo were disqualified for false starts.
“It was very stressful at the time when you are trying to get prepared and then you have to come back twice in the end,” said Dobson. “You just have to deal with it and move on.”
On his victory, he added: “I’m very much in my own race so I didn’t really notice. This is my final indoor race of the season, so it is nice to end it on a good one. For me indoors is a chance to sharpen up for outdoors.”
Zac Shaw was an impressive winner of the men’s para 60m in 7.01 from Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker as Faye Olszowka won the women’s para 60m in 8.09.
In the field, Marquis Dendy of the United States impressed with 8.28m to win the men’s long jump from Tajay Gayle’s 8.13m – as both men left their best until the sixth round.
“This is what I have been practicing for,” he said. “I knew it was it was going to be a long tour. I had a few hamstring problems during the tour, but I’ve kept going and this is where I wanted to be. It is great to have the points in the bag but I still needed to finish the job today which I did.”
Thobias Montler of Sweden finished sixth with 7.63m but sealed the World Indoor Tour title.
Alysha Newman arrived in Birmingham fresh from victory at the World Indoor Tour in Madrid and the former Commonwealth champion from Canada cleared 4.78m to win the pole vault as runner-up Tina Sutej of Slovenia cleared 4.71m.
“All I want is podiums and trophies,” said Newman. “I keep ticking off achievements on my list, next is Diamond League and a World Championships win. That’s the dream.”
Hamish Kerr returned to the scene of his Commonwealth victory last year in Birmingham as he won the men’s high jump with 2.28m.
“I have the outdoor national championships next week in New Zealand, so it’s a little bit of preservation at the moment,” he said. “I’m on the form of my life so it’s time to go home and get ready for the outdoor season.”
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