Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith blitzed to 100m victory in Gateshead to beat American star Sha’Carri Richardson in her first real test of 2021.

Asher-Smith powered home in 11.35 seconds in difficult conditions, 0.11 seconds clear of in-form Richardson, the fastest woman this year.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Jamaican world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce were also left trailing by Asher-Smith.

Scotland’s Laura Muir stormed through the rain to an emphatic 1500m win.

Asher-Smith hardly raced in 2020, restricting herself to three low-key outings on her home track in Bromley. Instead the 25-year-old concentrated on building her strength and technique with recent training sessions featuring 300 reps of abdominal strengthening exercises.

That extra power was clear as she held off Richardson, who has dipped under 10.80 three times already this season, in the final 20m.

Asher-Smith, who won 100m silver as well as the 200m title at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, played down any psychological impact the result could have on her Olympic rivals. Both she and Richardson intend to run the 100m-200m double in Tokyo.

“I think all in all today was more of an experience,” she said. “The only thing that can indicate Tokyo is the Olympic final itself.

Laura Muir
Muir has finished in the top five in the last three World Championships

“I feel really good. Conditions were far from ideal for sprinting but the most important thing is to come away with a good result and a win and I was very happy to do that.”

European champion Muir, one of the few other Olympic medal threats in the British team, was four seconds clear of her nearest challenger in the final race of the evening. But, with the like of the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan absent, she knows there will be stiffer tests to come.

Cindy Sember provided them with another British victory to cheer as she took the 100m hurdles ahead of sister Tiffany Porter in fourth.

Adam Gemili, who missed the podium by the narrowest of margins at Rio 2016, looked well short of that form as he finished sixth in a 200m race won by American Kenneth Bednarek.

Kendricks & Ingebrigtsen triumph at wet and windy Gateshead

Mondo Duplantis holds an umbrella for Sam Kendricks
Mondo Duplantis holds an umbrella for his pole vault rival Sam Kendricks

Elsewhere, American world champion Sam Kendricks beat Swedish world record-holder Armand Duplantis in the latest instalment of their pole vault rivalry. The pair took turns to hold umbrellas over each other as steady rain made conditions tricky in Gateshead.

Norway’s double European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, produced a commanding performance to win the 1500m in 3:36.27, while world champion Mariya Lasitskene saw a 14-event winning run come to an end in the high jump as Poland’s Kamila Licwinko triumphed.

The meeting marked the return of world-class athletics to Gateshead for the first time since 2010. The venue stepped in when Rabat was unable to host the first Diamond League of the season because of coronavirus restrictions.

The north east predictably proved colder and wetter than north Africa, but a socially-distanced sell-out of 2,000 fans were loud and enthusiastic regardless.

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