Tokyo Olympics: Dina Asher-Smith returns to set 4x100m relay record before shock USA exit

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Left to right: Asha Philip, Dina Asher-Smith, Imani Lansiquot and Daryll Neita  (Reuters)
Left to right: Asha Philip, Dina Asher-Smith, Imani Lansiquot and Daryll Neita (Reuters)

Dina Asher-Smith is back, and she helped Britain’s 4x100m squad set a new national record 41.55sec to qualify for the final in the fastest time of the heats. The British male quartet also qualified for the final after finishing second behind Jamaica as USA suffered a shock exit.

Asher-Smith withdrew from the 200m after struggling in the 100m semi-finals, revealing she had been nursing a hamstring injury picked up in Gateshead last month. But she returned here and after Asha Philip passed the baton to Imani Lansiquot, Asher-Smith ran a storming bend to hand over to Daryll Neita who beat USA and Jamaica to the line.

The Jamaicans in particular will be back stronger in the final when the 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah returns to the team, as will Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, but Britain will feel confident of a medal after setting a new national mark in sweltering Tokyo heat.

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“You run faster in this heat you do,” Asher-Smith said. “We’re Brits so we have to regulate our internal body temperature, because we’re not natural warm weather people, but sprinting -wise the hot weather’s great. The people from the hot countries are pretending they’re OK, but then they’re in the shade saying ‘we’re fine’ – ‘I’m saying you are not fine! – nobody’s fine!’

“After the 100m I did say there was no way I wasn’t going to be here for the 4x100 girls. I’ve been training really hard this week, I only had one day off and John had me back on the training track and essentially all I do need is a few more weeks, a few more sessions training.

“We were saying last night if we’d have had a few more days that would have been the 100m final, a few more week or so then 10.8. It’s just one of those things where I am chasing time so give me a few more training sessions and a few more runs and I’ll be closer to where I am used to being and I knew there was no way I wouldn’t be here.”

Gina Luckenkemper ran a storming last leg as Germany overhauled Switzerland to win the second semi in 42.00 while the Swiss notched a national record – one of five on Thursday – of 42.05 and progress as the fourth-fastest qualifiers.

In the men’s semis CJ Ujah, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Richard Kilty and Zharnel Hughes finished in 38.02 seconds to reach the final. Jamaica posted the quickest time of 37.82, while in the other semi-final Andre de Grasse returned fresh from his 200m triumph to help Canada match China in 37.92.

But the US men’s team suffered a shock exit despite a strong quartet containing the fastest man this year Trayvon Bromell and Olympic sprint finalists Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker. They finished sixth in the second heat of qualifying after a series of poorly executed exchanges that resulted in a time of 38.10.

The US are the reigning men’s world champions and have won 27 global titles from 40 attempts – the rest were all disqualifications relating to changeover failures. And although they got the baton round the Olympic Stadium track, their messy changes left Cravon Gillespie too much to do on the anchor leg.

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