2019 Preview – Dina Asher-Smith can carry torch for British athletics in Doha

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Dina Asher-Smith will have world gold within her grasp while a football World Cup throws up a domestic showdown to savour as women’s sport prepares to take centre stage in 2019.

Asher-Smith’s ascent into the top echelon of athletics was sealed by her record-breaking exploits in the 2018 European Championships and no less a luminary than Paula Radcliffe has tipped her to go on and make history at the World Championships in Doha in September.

Success for the engaging Asher-Smith would emphatically halt a general downturn in the fortunes of British athletics as well as sealing the arrival of an ideal icon to inspire future generations of girls to take up sport.

In a year freed from the overshadowing influence of an Olympics, women’s football ought also to be afforded the high profile it deserves when the world’s 24 best teams converge on France in June.

England’s Group D encounter with Scotland in Nice will prove an undoubted highlight from a British perspective, providing a barometer both for England’s progress under Phil Neville and Scotland’s improvement – or otherwise – since their 6-0 drubbing in 2017.

The following month attention will shift to Liverpool where the latest chapter in the increasingly storied rivalry between England and Australia is set to be played out in the Women’s Netball World Cup.

England’s stunning, on-the-siren win over Australia at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games provided one of sport’s most memorable moments in 2018 and any repeat on home soil would provide another major boon for the sport.

England and Australia will also pit their wits on the cricket field as the Ashes return to England in August and September, Joe Root’s men seemingly well-placed for revenge after the misery of last year’s 4-0 defeat Down Under that was overshadowed by the ball-tampering scandal.

Success in the inaugural Nations League, with England set for a semi-final against Holland in June, would provide another positive boost for Gareth Southgate’s men in the wake of their World Cup exploits.

Domestically, Jurgen Klopp’s resurgent Liverpool are showing signs of delaying another expected coronation for Manchester City.

Japan will host the Rugby World Cup for the first time with the host nation no doubt hopeful of a repeat of their famous win over South Africa in Brighton in 2015. A promising autumn series has given Eddie Jones’s England renewed hope of making a major impression.

Speaking of Japan, a host of other high-profile British stars will continue limbering up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the likes of Adam Peaty and Max Whitlock intending to cement their positions at their respective swimming and gymnastics World Championships.

A likely rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will light up the boxing world and perhaps also pave the way for the winner to face Anthony Joshua, who otherwise risks being left to kick his heels on the sidelines.

Andy Murray’s attempt to return to the top of the tennis world will be complicated by the continued emergence of a new generation of talent, headed by the newly-crowned ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev.

Re-emergence is also the theme in golf, as Tiger Woods limbers up to challenge again in the majors, while Justin Rose looks best placed of the home players to wrest the important world No 1 slot.