Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kristal Is on Track to Become Britain's Next Sprinting Gem

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kristal Is on Track to Become Britain's Next Sprinting Gem

Article excerpt

Byline: athletics Matt Majendie Sports Correspondent

FOR Kristal Awuah, the Dina Asher-Smith comparisons are inevitable, even if occasionally uncomfortable.

With every stride of the 60metre track at the Emirates Arena for tomorrow's European Athletics Indoor Championships, she follows in the lightning-quick footsteps of British athletics' former rising, now risen, star.

When Streatham sprinter Awuah began last season, her personal best for the 100m was 11.61sec, by the season's end it was down to 11.16sec, just two-hundredths behind the teenage best of Asher-Smith. And the 19-year-old's blistering run of 7.19sec in Berlin last month put her sixth on the British all-time list.

Of the comparisons to Asher-Smith, who announced herself on the senior world stage with European Indoor silver over 60m in 2015, Awuah said: "It's nice to see someone from Britain doing amazing but I need to focus on me and the track. I just have to see how I progress."

Awuah's own rise took her by surprise, at least initially. When first selected by Britain for the European Juniors Championships in 2017, she could not take her spot on the team as she did not have a passport. Her double bronze at last year's World Juniors was only her second time on a plane. But the daughter of parents who emigrated from Ghana initially to Tulse Hill and now Streatham has begun to crank up the air miles as her times have plummeted.

Despite her inexperience in Glasgow, she sets out with the ambition of upsetting the likes of defending champion Asha Philip, who boasts the British record for the distance.

"I think I can definitely get a medal," she said. "I'm coming here to show what I can do. That's my goal, not just to come for the experience. I've already got the big crowd experience with the World Juniors, now medals are something that are on my mind."

Growing up in the capital, Awuah tried her hand at a variety of sports -- badminton, BMX, tennis and netball -- before plumping for the track. …

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