Dina Asher-Smith appears to be a major doubt for the Commonwealth Games after pulling up sharply during the 4x100m relay at the world championships in Eugene.
On a night when Britain’s men’s 4x100m team took bronze, 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 twinge in her left leg.
Somehow she bravely hobbled the last 25 meters 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 medalist, 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 Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine-Thompson-Herah, world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and 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 41.14, Jamaica second in 41.18 and Germany the bronze.
The result means that Fraser-Pryce now has the same number of world championships 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-facied US team to gold by 0.07 sec. 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 Rhys 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 drug test. “What happened in the past is in the past,” said Hughes. “This is a new history. We did it again.”
That message was echoed by team captain Mitchell-Blake. “We never dropped the stick,” he said. “Our confidence never slipped.”