Dina Asher-Smith is a major doubt for the Commonwealth Games after pulling up sharply during the 4x100m relay at the world championships in Eugene. On Sunday she flew back to the UK for a scan and a medical assessment amid fears she has sustained a hamstring injury.
On a Saturday night when Britain’s men took bronze in the 4x100m, Asher‑Smith was also shooting for the podium as she powered around the final bend – only to then suddenly yelp in pain after suffering a sharp twinge in her left leg.
Somehow she bravely hobbled the last 25 metres before handing the baton to Daryll Neita but Britain’s chances of a medal had gone. Of far greater concern afterwards was the welfare of the 200m bronze medallist, who has looked so good at these championships.
The hope is that Asher-Smith’s injury is cramp. The fear is that it is a hamstring injury, which would end her hopes of lining up for the heats of the 100m at the Commonwealth Games in nine days’ time.
It could also leave her chances of defending her three European titles in Munich next month in doubt.
Asher-Smith was at least able to walk afterwards but she was understandably reluctant to discuss the exact nature of the problem before getting a medical assessment. But she admitted: “I hope it’s nothing serious because I have got a lot more races to do this year.
“I will have to go and have a check with my physio. But I just feel a bit confused because I felt fine coming in, went around the bend and my legs just stopped corresponding with me.”
There was considerable sympathy from her teammates. Neita, who ran a storming anchor leg as Britain finished sixth, admitted: “It wasn’t nice to see her face, she obviously wasn’t very comfortable and in my head I was like ‘please just stop’ but she kept going.
“She is a fighter and it is incredible to have her as part of the team. We didn’t come last, I don’t know how. We’re a team, this is just a stepping stone to the future. We will be good and she will be great.”
Imani-Lara Lansiquot, who ran the second leg, also told reporters: “We are a team – we win together, we lose together.”
Up ahead in the race there was a major shock as the US beat a Jamaican team containing the Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson‑Herah, the world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the world 200m champion Shericka Jackson on the final leg.
A stunning second leg from Abby Steiner laid the foundations before Twanisha Terry held off Jackson in a thrilling finale. The US won gold in 41.14sec, Jamaica second in 41.18 and Germany the bronze.
The result means Fraser-Pryce now has the same number of world championship medals as Usain Bolt (14) as well as eight Olympic medals each.
There was also a surprise in the men’s 4x100m relay as Canada beat the well-fancied US team to gold by 0.07sec. The crucial moment came as the American Elijah Hall fell as he handed the baton to Marvin Bracy, allowing Andre De Grasse to hold on in 37.48.
But the much-revamped British team of Jona Efoloko, Zharnel Hughes, Nethaneel Mitchell‑Blake and Reece Prescod were also delighted to win bronze in 37.83.
It was a measure of the team’s inexperience that Efoloko had never raced in a senior British vest before replacing Adam Gemili for the final. While Prescod, on the anchor leg, had never run a relay since he was 13 or 14 until this weekend.
“I was very nervous but Nethaneel, our team captain, told us that pressure is a privilege,” said Efoloko. “I just kept that in the back of my head.”
It was also a redemption story for Britain after their Olympic heartache, where they lost a silver medal after CJ Ujah’s positive drugs test.
“What happened in the past is in the past,” Hughes said. “This is a new history. We did it again. I remember speaking to Jona before the race started, I said: ‘Jona, just keep coming. As long as I get the baton, I’m going to do damage.’ I got the baton from Jona and turned on all the turbos I could possible turn on and ran to Nethaneel as fast as I possibly could.
“It’s a chemistry that us guys have, What you are not seeing behind the scenes is a lot of laughter, a lot of bonding, a lot of playing games. We know when to step up our game. Give credit to the coaches making sure we hit the check marks, they’re drilling us, but it is helping us nicely. I am very proud of the guys.”
That message was echoed by team captain Mitchell-Blake. “This is testament to our individual skills and the collective effort of everybody,” he said.
“Ultimately the aim is to come away from the next world champs with a gold and go on to Paris. It is a stepping stone, we will get better and we have got to raise our game going forward.
“We will enjoy this moment together, appreciate the fact that we got a medal and refocus after this for the rest of the season.”
Meanwhile the talented Prescod, who took the baton and ran into bronze, was also delighted with his first global medal. “This was my first and second ever relay,” he said.
“That is why I was so focused. Nathaneel said trust me, I’ll get the baton in my hand. I’m glad to have run and now I feel more confident now. And the better version of Reece I bring, the faster I go, the more I will help the team. This is just the start.”