Dina Asher-Smith was delighted after running a season’s best time at the Brussels Diamond League – but still had no answer to the 18-year-old sensation Christine Mboma, who finished powerfully to claim a stunning 200m victory.
Asher-Smith, whose Olympic gold medal dreams were cruelly ripped from her when she injured her hamstring in June, led from the blocks and was second behind the Jamaican Shericka Jackson with 75m to go.
But then Mboma, who won silver in Tokyo after coming from sixth to second in the final 50m, summoned another astonishing finish to come from fourth to win in 21.81sec.
Jackson was second in 21.95 and Asher-Smith third in 22.04, while the US star Sha’Carri Richardson faded to finish fourth.
However Asher-Smith was still happy, given her injury issues this year. “It felt so good to be here and to be able to run this fast,” she said. “I worked so hard after my injury to return and feel strong again. The relaxed feeling is back, so I’m very happy with that.”
But no one could stop Mboma, the brilliant young Namibian who could yet break Florence Griffith Joyner’s 200m record in the future if she is allowed to continue to compete. That is not a given. Last month the World Athletics president, Seb Coe, did not rule out extending the laws governing athletes with difference of sex development, such as Mboma, in the future.
Those rules state that DSD athletes, who typically have testes and substantially higher testosterone levels than most women, are banned from running distances from 400m to a mile internationally unless they take medication to lower their testosterone.
Such rules have meant Mboma is not able to run internationally in her best event, the 400m but she has not ruled out going back to the distance in future. “To be able to win in such a strong field is great,” said Mboma. “Currently I’m focusing on the 200m but I hope in future also to get faster at the 400m.”
Elsewhere in Brussels Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie finished second and third respectively in the women’s 800m behind the Jamaican Natoya Goule.
Coming into the final bend it looked as if the 19-year-old Hodgkinson, who took 800m silver in Tokyo, was poised to strike. But having run so wide on the final bend she was unable to close the gap as she finished in 1min 58.16sec, which was 0.07 behind Goule. Reekie was third in 1:58.77. “I really wanted that win,” said Hogkinson. “I came really close but Natoya Goule is class. She is a bit older so I still have time.”
Meanwhile the Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan, who won 5,000m and 10,000m gold and 1,500m bronze in Tokyo, fell just short of breaking her own world mile record. Hassan looked on course after a 62.0 first lap and a 62.9 second lap but lost momentum before coming home in 4min 14:75sec, the fifth fastest time in history.
“I am really happy with the time,” she said. “After Tokyo I was so tired so I just wanted to run the short distance. My goal was to run fast and that is what I did. It is a beautiful time.”