After so much anticipation about Dina Asher-Smith's bid to establish her name in sprinting history as the first British winner of the Olympic women's 100m, after so much talk about how, for the first time in 21 years, the race was going to upstage the men's 100m, the blue riband event of the Tokyo Games burst into life last night.
Unfortunately, Asher-Smith was not in it.
She was not there when the lights went down at the Olympic Stadium a few minutes before 10pm local time. She was not there when the straight was lit up like a runway in the darkness.
A heartbroken Dina Asher-Smith recounted in detail how a torn hamstring had wrecked her dreams of Olympic gold after she failed to reach the final of the 100metresInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Asher-Smith failed to make the 100m final and revealed she had a hamstring tear weeks ago as she also withdrew from the 200m later this week
She was not there when her rivals Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah were introduced to the empty arena. She was not there when Thompson-Herah hurtled across the line first in a new Olympic record time.
Instead, Asher-Smith was downstairs in the broiling heat of an underground car park that has been converted into a railed off area where athletes speak to the media, her emotions oscillating wildly between tears and laughter, her words pouring forth in an animated 20-minute stream of consciousness as she sought to explain where it had all gone wrong.
This was the woman who was supposed to be the golden girl of these Olympics for Team GB, talking us through the agony of failing to qualify for the final after finishing third in her semi-final and missing out by five hundredths of a second on sneaking in to the event she had dreamed of competing in, as a fastest loser. She was out of the 200m, her favoured event, too, she said.
The words kept spilling out. Asher-Smith was Team GB's best hope of gold on the track and now that hope was ruined. It was as if, if she spoke quickly enough, her thoughts might outrun the pain of her broken dreams.
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After leaving the arena, Asher-Smith outlined to journalists in great detail what went wrong
Asher-Smith (second left) is left trailing as she ends up third in her semi-final
She had won a silver in the event at the World Championships in Doha two years ago, she said, and she had believed she could go one better in Tokyo on the biggest stage of all.
All sorts of dread must have been coursing through her mind. She is 25 now and at her peak. Maybe by the time Paris comes around in 2024, her best may be behind her. But she kept speaking.
She had not been able to do herself justice on the track but this was a hugely brave performance in front of massed ranks of microphones that had been gathered to record her heartbreak.
She had damaged her hamstring in the British Olympic trials in Manchester on June 26th when she appeared to win the 100m comfortably, she said. She had not told anyone but her closest friends.
'Dina Asher-Smith breezes to win,' the headlines had said later that evening but they did not tell the story. If only they had known the truth, Asher-Smith said.
Asher-Smith finished behind Elaine Thompson-Herah and Ajla del Ponte in her semi-final
She had been in the form of her life, she said, but now she had been told she had ruptured her hamstring. She would need an operation and it would be four months until she walked again and a year until she sprinted again. She was in floods of tears, she said.
But later she was told there might be hope, that she might not need surgery, that she might make it to the start-line here after all. At that point, she clasped her hands together, as if in prayer. For a minute, she could not