Greg Rutherford: Dina Asher-Smith should win ‘at least one medal’ at Tokyo Olympics

·2-min read
Dina Asher-Smith wins the 200m final at the 2019 World Athletics Championships (Getty Images)
Dina Asher-Smith wins the 200m final at the 2019 World Athletics Championships (Getty Images)

Greg Rutherford has warned Dina Asher-Smith of a tidal wave of Olympic sprint rivals rumbling across the Atlantic.

Asher-Smith’s 100m credentials will be sternly tested in Sunday’s Diamond League meeting in Gateshead, sporting a field worthy of the Olympic final.

Expected to feature is USA’s Sha’Carri Richardson, who stopped the world of sprinting with a world-leading 10.72 in April and 2019 world bronze medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

Throw reigning world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce into the mix, and Rutherford reckons Asher-Smith has reason to be spooked.

“What’s going on in the US with Richardson is incredible,” said the London 2012 long jump legend, who will be part of the presentation team for the Eurosport and discovery+ live coverage of the Tokyo Olympic Games

“In my career, I was a big believer of ignoring what is going on out there, because it’s very early in the season. But people are opening with some very, very fast times.

“We’ve already seen 10.7s pop out and it’s getting quick. Dina is absolutely capable of running those times, but there are going to be a lot of very, very quick runners this year.

“I think because we’ve had this year off, people are already upping their performances. Dina has the opportunity to walk away with three Olympic medals of what colour? We’ll have to see.”

Asher-Smith, the world 200m champion, opened her Olympic campaign with a 22.56 over that distance at a low-key meet in Savona, Italy last week.

It was her first outdoor international since those 2019 World Championships, where she broke new ground for Britain with a first global sprint title in a generation.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Asher-Smith was briefly seen during the indoor season, taking Continental Tour victories in Dusseldorf and Karlsruhe, but ended her 60m burst early with a tight quad.

John Blackie’s charge has an exemplary Championship record that stretches back longer than many give her credit for, including Olympic 4x100m bronze.

She finished fourth in the 200m at the 2017 World Championships, having broken her foot a few weeks earlier.

Rutherford hopes that, medal or no medal, Asher-Smith’s Tokyo performances are judged on merit.

“I don’t want to do what I saw during my career, which is hang medals around people’s necks,” he said.

“If Dina went out there and ran 10.79 and finished fourth... for people who don’t understand that, that’s a failure. But the performance is remarkable.

“It’s such a snapshot into that person’s build-up. For those 10 or 11 seconds, you only need to get one thing wrong, and you’re passed by three people.

“She should come back with one medal at least and has the chance to win three.”

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