European sprinters swept the 200m titles at the IAAF World Championships in London two years ago and it is by no means inconceivable there could be a similar outcome when the summer season reaches its climax at the IAAF World Championships in Doha which begin on 27 September.
Ramil Guliyev and Dafne Schippers triumphed in London before Guliyev went on to add the European title to his resume last year with a storming run in Berlin, smashing the championship record with 19.76 - missing the long-standing European record by a mere 0.04.
Schippers pulled out a season’s best of 22.14 at the European Championships but it wasn’t sufficient enough to arrest the formidable form of Asher-Smith who retained her European title in the German capital in a world-leading time and British record of 21.89.
After a busy indoor season culminating with a silver medal over 60m at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, Schippers will be making her outdoor debut later this season but the first stage of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha on 3 May will give us our first glance of both Guliyev and Asher-Smith in 2019.
Asher-Smith donned her club colours in a Southern League match in Gillingham last weekend when she took part in the 4x400m relay - her first leg split was reportedly 52.6 - but Doha represents her first major race since the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava last September.
So, at the Southern Athletics league in Gillingham yesterday, the first leg of the womens 4x400m for Blackheath & Bromley yesterday was one @dinaashersmith! Pretty much the best sprinter in the world, at a SAL match! Gutted to have missed it but my coach got a great photo. pic.twitter.com/vUyGadXpnM— Sean (@sconnerton84) April 14, 2019
'Last year was an incredible year and I would like to build on this in 2019 and 2020. I am excited to start my season in Doha for the first time and test out the track at the Khalifa International Stadium ahead of the World Championships.
“The female sprints have so many extremely talented women at the moment and I expect Doha to be a great race,” said Asher-Smith, who is one of just three women to win a sprint treble at the European Championships.
Guliyev was in equally imperious form last year, breaking the 20 second-barrier five times over 200m. His winning time of 19.76 at the European Championships makes him the second fastest European sprinter of all-time behind Mennea but he is confident faster times are in his grasp.
“I started my 2018 season in the Doha Diamond League last year and I look forward to returning to compete at the Khalifa International Stadium,” said Guliyev.
'Breaking the championship record and my lifetime best in Berlin was fantastic but I am sure I can go even faster. Of course my big aim this year is to defend my world title in Doha and I know I will probably have to break my lifetime best to do that.'
Asher-Smith will face a line-up including double world silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou from the Ivory Coast in Doha while Guliyev faces a quartet of sub-20 second performers based on last year’s times including world bronze medallist Jereem Richards from Trinidad & Tobago.