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12 Aug 2017

Dafne Schippers repeats as 200-meter champion at world track championships

Dafne Schippers reinforced her aura of invincibility on Friday night in sealing a second successive 200 metres world title, and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith hared to a hugely impressive fourth place less than six months after having a metal rod inserted in a broken foot.
Fourth: a “chocolate medal”, the French call it, a meaningless sweetener. The host country now has five of them. But Asher-Smith could be forgiven for deriving a deep satisfaction from her own, having defied even the most optimistic medical prognosis to reach the final.

As a soft rain fell on the Olympic Park, Schippers rose to the occasion with trademark elegance, sweeping to gold in 22.07 seconds, with the Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou in silver. There was, alas, no glorious redemptive arc for Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who had lost out on almost certain gold in the 400m after cramping up metres from the finish line, but the Bahamian still accomplished a remarkable comeback in taking bronze.

So, too, did Asher-Smith, whose doctors had written off her season when she fractured the navicular bone in her right foot during a  February training session. It was, as she described it, a “freak accident, one of those unavoidable things in life”. That she rebounded here with a time of 22.22, a season’s best by far, was testament to her ferocious commitment, even if it left the trace of a bitter aftertaste.

“I was coming down the home straight, thinking, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t realise I’m in this kind of shape,’” she said. “I’m just a bit frustrated to miss out on gold by just seven hundredths of a second.”

Time ought to temper her dismay. It was a formidable achievement for Asher-Smith just to be in these athletes’ company, given her injury predicament. “Have you seen those girls?” she said, moments before taking to the start line. “Some of them are in very good shape.”

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