Dina Asher-Smith is a major doubt for next week’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games after pulling up injured during the World Championships women’s 4x100 metres final.
Asher-Smith is one of the headline names for the Birmingham event, but flew back to Britain on Sunday for a scan and full medical assessment on a suspected hamstring injury.
The British team were in bronze-medal position behind America and Jamaica at the halfway point of the race when Asher-Smith was handed the baton for the third leg.
All appeared fine until she suddenly yelped in pain with around 25m remaining, stuttering with what appeared to be a left hamstring problem before bravely hobbling to hand the baton on to Daryll Neita, with the team now in last place.
Despite Neita’s best efforts - running the fastest split of anyone in the race - Britain could only finish sixth, missing out on a medal for the first time in five global championships. America won gold in 41.14 seconds, Jamaica silver in 41.18sec and Germany bronze in 42.03sec.
Depending on the severity of the injury, Asher-Smith’s season could effectively be over. She is due to line up for the Commonwealth Games 100m heats in just nine days’ time, and the European Championships follow swiftly behind one week later in Munich. Any muscle tear would almost certainly rule her out of both competitions.
Asher-Smith, who was able to walk after the race, relinquished her world 200m title in Eugene when winning bronze, before she was rested for the 4x100m heats and then brought into the British team for the final - her seventh race of the World Championships.
Last year, she was forced to pull out of the Olympic 200m when she tore her right hamstring at the British trials and only just recovered in time to compete in Tokyo, where she was well below her best.
After the race, she declined to go into specifics about the injury, saying: “I’m a bit shocked. I will have to go and have a check with my physio, but I just feel a bit confused because I felt fine coming in, went around the bend and my legs just stopped corresponding with me.
“I hope it’s nothing serious because I have got a lot more races to do this year. I feel awful. I felt good, we were running well.
“If I’d felt anything in the warm-up I’d never have run. It’s just something that I couldn't continue with.”
Asher-Smith has been selected to represent Team England over 100m and 4x100m in Birmingham. Britain’s European Championships team is yet to be chosen.
Neita said: “She did amazingly well to keep running. I saw her face and I was like: ‘No, no, no, don’t give it to me’. I didn’t want to run away from her because I saw her face and it didn’t look nice.
“The fact that she wanted to get the baton round just shows what a team player she is and what a fighter. She’ll be fine.
“We didn’t come last, I don’t know how. We’re a team, this is just a stepping stone to the future. The main thing is Dina gets herself right and she’s ready for the Commies. This is just a freak thing.”
After the embarrassment of failing to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, the British women’s 4x100m team are now cemented as one of the best in the world, winning bronze at the last two Olympics and silver at the last two World Championships.
They were on track to maintain that podium record in Eugene, when firmly in the fight with the Americans and Jamaicans after Asha Philip and Imani-Lara Lansiquot’s legs.
“Everyone knows when they see us on the start line that we can be medalists,” said Neita, whose superb anchor leg somehow saw her overhaul Italy and Switzerland.
Philip said: “People are scared of us. We’re definitely coming for them. They’re scared of us, knowing we’re medal contenders.
“As much as it’s an individual sport, we do come out here as a relay team. We work really hard together. We are one team, it is us against the world.
“These things happen - you win some, you lose some. We are still going to walk off with our heads held high.
“We’re in really good shape. We ran well in the heats. It just shows what more we have to come. We have got a great team and more competitions this year. We are just warming up.”
That America won gold was a major surprise against the huge pre-race favourites of Jamaica, whose team featured 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 200m champion Shericka Jackson, and Elaine Thompson-Herah, the reigning Olympic 100m and 200m champion.