Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith has backed herself to beat sprint sensation Sha’Carri Richardson at Gateshead.
The pair meet in a 100m field that also includes multiple world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
“It was nice to see her put the times together in a lovely, technical way, but, obviously, I have to always back myself,” said Asher-Smith.
“I am definitely a competitor always. It is something that makes everything exciting. It is fun to compete against such talented women.”
Asher-Smith said she and coach John Blackie had watched Richardson’s recent personal-best run of 10.72 seconds admiringly – the time is more than a tenth of a second faster than Asher-Smith’s own PB.
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“Technically it was a very nice bit of sprinting. My coach and I said it was really pretty to watch,” she added.
After winning 200m gold and 100m silver at the 2019 World Championships, Asher-Smith raced sparingly in 2020. The 25-year-old limited herself to three low-key outings at her home track in Bromley, south London.
She said she has spent the pandemic-hit season focusing on building her strength and refining her technique rather than competing.
“I am much, much, much stronger and technically proficient,” she said.
“I can do things that my coach had hoped I would be able to do for many years. It is going to be an exciting summer.”
That summer includes the delayed Tokyo Olympics, and Asher-Smith added her voice to Great Britain team-mate Adam Gemili’s in criticising the International Olympic Committee’s ban on athletes taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign for racial equality and justice.
“It is a shame that that kind of restriction has been put in place,” she said. “Especially when you consider what is happening in the world right now.”
This weekend’s meeting marks the start of the Diamond League season and the return of world-class athletics to Gateshead for the first time since 2010.
In addition to a stellar women’s 100m field, Britain’s in-form European champion Laura Muir competes in the 1500m, while American world champion Sam Kendricks and Sweden’s world-record holder Armand Duplantis renew their pole vault rivalry.
The event is expected to be a sell out, with 2,000 socially distanced fans.