Dina Asher-Smith says she has another level to go to, and on this evidence she will need it after the women’s Olympic 100metres competition got off to a blistering start here in Tokyo.
Asher-Smith is Britain’s leading hope on the track at these Olympics, having won silver in the 100m and gold in the 200m at the World Championships in Doha two years ago.
The 25-year-old was up first in the heats as the athletics action got underway this morning and cruised through in 11.07 behind America’s Teahna Daniels, but fireworks were to come.
Defending champion Elain Thompson-Herah blitzed to a 10.82 clocking in the next heat before Marie-Josee Ta Lou went even quicker, setting a new African record of 10.78 and dragging Britain’s Daryll Neita to a 10.96 PB as she continued her excellent season by dipping under 11 seconds for the first time.
Two-time Olympic champion and the fastest woman in the world this year, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also laid down an early marker by winning her heat in 10.84, but Asher-Smith was in relaxed mood afterwards.
"To be honest today was just about making it through to the next round safely at the same time as knowing I’ve got another level to give tomorrow [in the semi-finals and final] so I am really happy,” she said.
“And I do have another level – of course I do, it’s an Olympics.”
Earlier on, Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie, both potential medal contenders in the women’s 800m, qualified comfortably for the semi-finals and will be joined by teammate Alex Bell, who was a late call-up for these Games after Laura Muir opted to focus on the 1500m and went through as a fastest loser.
“It was good, I was excited to get out there,” said 19-year-old Hodgkinson. “You can never predict how the races go but I definitely learned a few things in there, that’ll be the biggest stage I’ve ever performed on, so I’m just going to take it round by round.”
Britain’s Tom Gale cleared a season’s best 2.28m to reach his first Olympic high jump final but there was disaster for Lawrence Okoye in the discus as he failed to record a mark with his three throws and crashed out.
World record holder Karsten Warholm and America’s Rai Benjamin both made light work of their 400m hurdles heats to remain on course for one of the clashes of the Games in next week’s final.