Stuart Weir was delighted to write about the victory of Darryl Neita in the 200m on July 2 in Stockholm. This weekend, at the British Champs, one of the hot rivalries will be Darryl Neita and Dina Asher-Smith!
Darryl Neita told me she is just learning to run 200m. I would like to see her run one after she has learned! I spoke to her in Lausanne where she was very dissatisfied with a second place in 11.07, into a negative wind. These days only sub-11 will do. In Stockholm, the race ended in the British 1-2 with Neita running 22.50 and Dina Asher-Smith second in 22.58.
I greatly admire Darryl Neita; she is an engaging interviewee. I remember trying to sympathize with her narrowly failing to reach the semi-final of the Rio Olympics, but she would not have it, insisting that she had run “tragically badly”. In Zurich 2021, I tried to congratulate her on another sub 11 100m race, but she dismissed my comments with a “sub 11 has to be normal, not something special”. When she felt her career was not progressing, she upped sticks and off to the USA. When that arrangement had to come to an end through no fault of her own, she and her dog Melon-headed for Italy and work with Marco Airale. She is certainly reaping the benefits.
In the past two and a half seasons, Neita has run over fifty 100m races but only ten 200s. That may change! A win is always pleasing, but Stockholm represented a first even Diamond League win and a victory over former 200 world champion Dina Asher-Smith and the form sprinter of the moment, Majrie Jose Ta Lou.
Darryl told me: “I’m winning Diamond Leagues in a very strong field. Ta Lou is in amazing form right now, running 10.7s, so it was a strong race. I couldn’t let the weather be an excuse to stop me today, as I came here to win. I think it was a strong performance. My coach told me to go out there and have fun.
“He believes 200 will be my strongest event, saying, ‘Go for it, you are made for it’ but I’m still learning. I didn’t use to run many 200s. There were just so many reasons why I didn’t.
Darryl Neita, 100 meters, British Champs, photo by Getty/BritishAthletics
But I trained for it this year because I don’t know the event well but it’s fun for me, very light-hearted, and just seeing how fast I can go. I’m figuring it out. Today was very different from Bydgoszcz (where she ran 22.23 in |June) it was not a stacked race this time, I had more of a challenge this time, I had more of a battle, but I think I did well”.
She added: “We know that I am a contender for the medals in Budapest. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that I am also good in the 200m. Gold is what we dream of, to come away from here as number one. My job is done, the coach will be happy. The time doesn´t reflect my shape. It´s a great preparation for Budapest; today’s performance shows me that I can win”.
Dina Asher-Smith made it a British 1-2, commenting: “It was all right, but I would rather have won – but it is what it is. I was hoping for a quicker time today as well. I am definitely in good shape. I made a few mistakes in the 200 in Paris, but this one was much better I just think that was worth a quicker time but with the weather and the conditions, it is what it is, and you gotta roll with it. I will chat with my coach about that”.
The re-match should be at the British Trials next weekend, but both girls were cagey about what they will run next weekend,