Dina Asher-Smith reigned supreme in the rain last night as she hammered out an Olympic warning to her Tokyo rivals.
Britain’s sprint queen defied foul weather to beat world number one Sha’Carri Richardson and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce over 100 metres at the Gateshead Diamond League meet.
The 25-year-old had warned she was in great shape – “much much stronger” than before lockdown – due to a daily training regime which included 300 reps of abdominal strengthening exercises.
She proved it as she overpowered her American and Jamaican rivals, cutting through a significant headwind to win easily in 11.35 seconds.
The time might have been nothing special, due to the conditions, but the performance was – poetry in motion, rock solid in its execution.
“I am really happy to start my 100m season with a win,” she said. “It was far from ideal conditions but when you go to a Diamond League event the most thing is to run a good race plan and keep a good head.
“The only way to get race fit is to race the best in the world so this was good practice for keeping focused and staying in the moment.”
When Asher-Smith became champion of the world in 2019 it was so hot athletes collapsed and organisers had to blow cold air into the Khalifa International Stadium.
Frostbite was a bigger concern here as Britain’s fastest woman emerged for her first major athletics event since Doha.
Yet Asher-Smith carried on where she had left off in the sapping desert climate of the Qatari capital.
In front of 2,000 hardy fans she laid down a marker by qualifying fastest for the final, then stepped it up a level to get the result.
This is a highly significant win so close to the Tokyo Games and Richardson put on a brave face as she trailed in second in 11.44secs.
She had come into the race tweeting: “My granny told me to kick ass so nobody is safe !!!!!”
Later she said: “I already know where my faults are and where I exceeded in the race. This is my first year but I don’t want to exist I want to be a competitor.
“I want to show the world that I can run, that I’m a force to be reckoned with and the world should watch out.”
The world will do just that but it also now knows the pecking order 60 days out from the Olympics.
Laura Muir, meanwhile, splashed to victory on her first appearance in Britain for 15 months.
The Olympic medal hopeful had come into her 1500 metres race in top form and underlined it by winning with four seconds to spare.
“There’s always quite a buzz in Olympic year and I think this year more than any because it’s been delayed an extra year,” she said after clocking 4:03.73 to beat Morocco’s Rababe Arafi.
“Five years since Rio is a long time and I’ve come a long way since then. So it’s exciting to be out racing and doing well ahead of these Games.”
Cindy Sember, fresh from taking silver at the European Indoor Championships, powered to victory in the 100m hurdles.
After years dogged by injury the world No.5 is now fit and last night relished the chance to show what she can do injury-free.
“It’s been a lot of mental toughness to get over the injuries I had,” she said after clocking 13.28secs. “It’s still a daily battle with my mental state – I’m still working on it.
“But I’m so motivated for the Olympics. I’ve always wanted to become an Olympic medalist. The goal is to get there first and then God-willing I can prepare well for it.”