No rainbow in her hair, no slab of gold in her hand, but what a marvellous piece of silver and what a delightful piece of history for an athlete like no other in this country.
There aren’t many others abroad, either. Just one. And a remarkable one at that, a 32-year-old mother from Jamaica with a wig of seven colours and a collection of gold medals just as bright.
But for Dina Asher-Smith, this 100m silver behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is enough. For now, anyway. If it was any other British sprinter across the past six decades, it would be enough for a lifetime. With this one, it feels like a staging post, a dot on a graph that might well sit in the shadow of another in the next three days.
Dina Asher-Smith celebrates after winning a silver medal in the women’s 100m final in Doha
Who knows how far she will go? In the short term it might mean a 200m gold medal on Wednesday. For most money the 23-year-old will be the favourite. But that is a thought for another day. For this one, consider that she delivered the run of her life – a 10.83sec dash from A to B – when it mattered most, when the expectation was greatest.
And make no mistake, there was plenty of the latter, from observers of the growing hype at home to her rivals on the track. Indeed, the refrain to her three European gold medals last year was that the rest of the world was sleeping. Other sprinters as well as Asher-Smith have pointed that out.
Here, in Doha, she said both she and they would have nowhere to hide and she hunted them all down, barring the Olympic 100m champion of 2008 and 2012.
At 32, Fraser-Pryce is getting back up to speed after having a baby in 2017 and what speed she is reaching – she won this race in 10.71sec, a truly remarkable athlete and the quickest time in the world this year.
Asher-Smith set a new British record with a time of 10.83 at the Khalifa International Stadium
Asher-Smith had the psychological edge of beating her to the Diamond League title earlier this month, but she didn’t have the legs for this task, even with a new personal best.
For that reason, after finishing second, she appeared a little unsure of what to do. For a brief moment she stood, hands on hips, not fully comfortable with a successful defeat.
Then, after a few seconds, she snapped out of it and danced, the first female from these isles to win a world or Olympic 100m medal since Dorothy Hyman’s Olympic silver in 1960. They haven’t had one at 100m or 200m for 36 years, so that ought to quantify the accomplishment to some extent.
‘I have worked so hard for this championships,’ she said. ‘Hopefully I’ll go on to do bigger things but I was thinking on the line, “This is your time to go”. I’m really pleased to come away with a PB and national record. That is more than you could ever ask for in a world final.
‘I’m a championship performer and competitor so of course I would have loved to have won that race. But Shelly-Ann delivered a fantastic performance. That is why she has won so many titles and is an absolute legend.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (2nd right) powered to 10.71 seconds for her eighth world title
‘It’s a long season and it is easy to get carried away with the smaller achievements along the way, be it winning the Diamond League final or running well throughout the season.
‘It is quite easy to get caught up in the hype and forget what you are going for. It’s all about these championship moments so for me, it’s been about staying focused, making sure my training is tailored towards this and remember to keep your eye on the prize.’
For a time, it looked like she might miss out. Fraser-Pryce was clear in front from the blocks and Asher-Smith, in lane seven, was in a great battle with Elaine Thompson, the reigning Olympic champion, and Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the world silver medallist.
Asher-Smith (left) and Fraser-Pryce congratulate one-another following the thrilling race
It wasn’t until 60m that she shook them off, finishing clear of Ta Lou, who was third in 10.90sec. A good race.
The only shame is that it was in a near empty stadium. What a farce to come to Doha for such a significant championships, but just as there are no pictures on a golfing scorecard, there are no attendance figures on a silver medal.
So, even if history will record these championships as a nonsense for staging purposes, the medal table will show this is where Asher-Smith made her mark globally. You would expect a few more to follow, most likely this week.
Irrespective of what follows from Britain’s leading lady over the course of these championships, concern will already be spreading among UK Athletics about the number of fringe contenders falling short.
The British governing body have a stiff target of winning between seven and nine medals here. So far, their outside bets have failed to come off, with fourth-placed finishes on Sunday night for Holly Bradshaw in the pole vault and the 4 x 400 metres mixed relay team.
In the case of Bradshaw, once more she could not scale the required height at a major championship. It was her best finish at either an Olympics or Worlds, but ultimately her 4.80m clearance was not enough. Anzhelika Sidorova, a Russian athlete competing as a neutral, took gold. ‘It does hurt a bit but I’m in a great place and happy how things are going,’ she said.
Shortly after that came the introduction of the wacky race — the mixed 4 x 400m. Rabah Yousif was seventh after the first leg, but going into the last lap following exchanges between Zoe Clarke and Emily Diamond, Britain were fourth. After Martyn Rooney had a poor changeover with Diamond, he could not overhaul Bahrain in third.
Adam Gemili, Miguel Francis and Zharnel Hughes all qualified for the men’s 200m semi-final.