Published: 21:00, 06 August 2021
| Updated: 08:53, 11 August 2021
Dina Asher-Smith would never have expected a solitary bronze to be an appropriate return from these Olympics - but this one came with added perspective.
The world champion's injury heartache was the early story of Britain's track and field campaign in Tokyo but at least it had a happier ending.
Asher-Smith withdrew from her individual events to focus on the 4x100m relay and helped Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot and Daryll Neita retain the medal they won in Rio five years ago.
Hopes were high after a national record in qualifying but, in truth, Jamaica and the United States were a class apart and the British quartet very clearly the best of the rest.
"I think I’m in a bit of mixed emotions because obviously the competitor in me would have liked a different colour," she said.
"But I need to remember I was on crutches six weeks ago and there was a 10% chance - less than 10% chance - that I was going to be here.
"I’ve worked incredibly hard, straining my knee, strengthening my hamstring, letting it heal, and obviously to come away with a medal here is honestly something that I could not have even contemplated six weeks ago. You know when you forget what you’ve been through? It does mean a lot."
Asher-Smith insists she is getting stronger with every day, as she continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
And next year there will be no shortage of challenges - with the World and European Championships punctuated by the prospect of a home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
"What actually hurt so much about the 100m and 200m is that all I need is another week, two weeks, and then I’ll literally be back to my normal speed," she said.
"I’m obviously moving faster than I was last week but that’s obviously how recovery from these things goes. Every day there’s progress, which I’ve seen physically, with my hamstring itself, but also in terms of my form.
"Next year is a very big year for our sport and Paris is only three years away."
Philip and Lansiquot will have had some anxious moments after Neita brought home the anchor leg, their first changeover looking very close to being over the line. Indeed it took a nervy five minutes for the final result to be confirmed in the stadium.
"We just obviously want to make a scene - we’re not just going to give you something nice, we want you to have pressure, we’re entertainers," she joked.
Philip, at 30, may not be the future of this team but the other members still can look ahead to Paris, where improving on their six bronzes in this event must be a high priority.
"I was just patiently waiting to see Dina and she came flying into me as she would," said Neita.
"I just did my best to bring it home for the girls and honestly we’ve worked so hard as a team, this medal means a lot to us, we’ve been through so much.
"I’m just super happy, it’s been an amazing championships for me personally – first sub 11, made the Olympic final, now coming home with a bronze medal, I can’t really complain."
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