Home victory delights fans in the newly reconstructed stadium
Dina Asher-Smith, 26 years, delighted the home crowd with her split-second victory in the 100 metres in the Wanda Diamond League meeting at the renovated Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. Any disappointment the spectators here, and on television, may have had with the late withdrawal of favoured Elaine Thompson-Herah from the line-up was compensated fully by the exciting finish which caused the announcement of the result to be delayed while the photographic evidence was examined. The British athlete, who had led from the start, crossed the line in 11.11 seconds to deny by one hundredth of a second the late finish of Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (11.12), 27 years, with UK compatriot Daryll Neita (11.14), 25 years, third.
“Being British, I wanted to come to Birmingham in this beautiful new stadium and put on a show,” said Asher-Smith. “There was a very strong field. I could have done a few things differently if I am being picky, but I’m very happy to win in this temperature and against this field.” Dina and Daryll also combined with Beth Imani and Imani Lansiquot to win the 4 x 100 metres relay in a meeting-record time of 42.29 seconds.
Shericka said afterwards : “It was actually a good race. I never get the start I wanted but it’s all work in progress and I’m definitely happy. This is not my type of weather but it’s my job when I’m competing and I just came here focused on what I needed to do. The track feels good. It’s the first time coming out here and it’s good ahead of the Commonwealths”.
Malaika Mihambo (Germany), 28 years, set the pace in field events by winning the long-jump with 7.09 metres to line herself up with a very good chance of attaining the gold medal in the World Championships at Eugene, Oregon in July. Mihambo’s success was assured when her closest rival Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk faltered in her final attempt. Lorraine Ugen (UK), 30 years, the world indoor bronze medallist, was third in 6.65 metres.
Mihambo said: “It was really good. It was my season opener so I didn’t have too much expectation. I was really, really happy with it. I’m feeling really happy because it seems like we’re on the right way. I have had some struggles with my approach for the last two years so it’s nice to be back now and I feel at least as good as 2019 when I dominated. I think’s a really good start and I’m really looking forward to the next competition”.
Ugden added: “I am just happy to continue to get seasons best and I’m hoping to continue to improve at each competition I do. This is the second one of the outdoor season so I am still warming up into it but hopefully as the season progresses I will get deeper and further into the pit. I really enjoyed today especially with a home crowd, a brand spanking new stadium, it was really lovely out here today.
It was definitely a heavy field, great competitors. Obviously Malaika (Mihambo) jumped over seven metres which is always a fantastic place to be and hopefully we can continue that rivalry going into the World Championships.
The Alexander Stadium was still under-going the substantial changes in preparation for hosting the Commonwealth Games in two months time. There has been a complete overhaul of the structures and landscape with more spacious accommodation replacing the former cramped press seating. A fleet of buses provided a shuttle service to/from the city centre using the occasion also as a practice run the thousands of spectators who expected to attend for the Commonwealth Games.
Photographs by courtesy of Birmingham Diamond League