Home Athletics Team GB’s Dina Asher-Smith on Olympics preparation, speaking out about racism and body positivity

Team GB’s Dina Asher-Smith on Olympics preparation, speaking out about racism and body positivity


As information filtered by that the 2020 Olympic Video games could be placed on maintain for a 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dina Asher-Smith spoiled herself with McDonalds and a few chocolate cake. The 25-year-old admits she was relieved by the announcement as a result of not solely did it give her a uncommon alternative to chill out and replicate, it additionally meant she may now reset and ensure she was in the perfect situation to compete for the summer time of 2021.

With the Tokyo Video games already underway and the opening ceremony happening on Friday, the British sprinter has received herself in the absolute best form after returning to more healthy dietary choices following that transient quick meals break. She is trying to comply with up her gold medal within the 200 metres on the 2019 World Championships in Doha with Olympic glory.

Asher-Smith is barely competing at her second Olympics and can search to enhance on the bronze medal she claimed within the 4x100m relay throughout her debut Video games in Rio 2016. She is snug heading into the competitors as one of many favourites for each the 100m and 200m races but additionally understands how her success can encourage others sooner or later.

“I like to win and that’s what I train for, especially with where my mind is at the moment with the Olympics,” she tells ESPN. “I want to be somebody who was able to be successful and show people that there’s no right way to do something — you have to find our own path.

“Life is all of our personal particular person journeys. There is not any proper approach to embark on any journey and that’s very true in sport. I have never thought of [legacy] however perhaps I would prefer to see increasingly more younger ladies take part in sport and really feel empowered and be very assured and take all these values which you can study from a sporting atmosphere and place them in no matter avenue they need to pursue in life. Whether or not in sports activities, the boardroom, a scientist, something. I would like them to have a sporting life as a result of it is a number of enjoyable.”

During lockdown, Asher-Smith found a new fun approach to keep fit and took to the local park to run among deer with gyms, athletics tracks and leisure centres shut down.

“It isn’t one thing I would proceed to do,” she laughs. “It was unusual however truly very nice, a lot of nature and really calming however was not the identical efficiency worth as my regular coaching companions.”

As lockdown restrictions began to ease, Asher-Smith was able to get back into her normal training programme with long-time coach John Blackie and hasn’t looked back since. She opened the outdoor season with an impressive 200m victory in Italy and has finished in first place in all eight races she started this year.

Asher-Smith seems to be peaking at just the right time ahead of the Olympics. She clocked a season’s best time of 22.06 seconds in the 200m at the Diamond League meeting in Florence in June and set a championship record of 10.91s in the 100m at the British Athletics Championships two weeks later.

The British star might need to run even faster to claim the biggest prize in Japan this summer especially in the 100m which will be a must-watch event. Jamaican sprinters have also impressed this season with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce becoming the second-fastest woman in history with a time of 10.63s in June, while reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shericka Jackson have clocked the second and fourth-quickest times respectively this year.

American Sha’Carri Richardson was also set to be a medal contender alongside Asher-Smith in the 100m and 200m but she will not compete at the Olympics after returning a positive test for marijuana at the start of July.

Asher-Smith can take confidence in the fact that she has beaten both Fraser-Pryce and Richardson on the track this year but she refuses to put any additional pressure or expectations on herself.

“I am any person who at all times needs to enter the foremost championships and do the perfect that I probably can,” she explains. “I do know it sounds underwhelming however in all truthfully, if you wish to carry out effectively, that is the place your mentality must be.

“You have to be in a position to put your best foot forward and in the process, you have to work very hard that your best performance is very, very good.

“There’s a lot of steps to have the ability to [reach the finals] and I’ve to be actually centered on the method slightly than the outcomes to have the ability to in the end achieve success. You’ll be able to’t get forward of your self as a result of as you quickly as you do, you then begin lacking steps and in the event you miss steps, then you do not do as effectively so simply focus.”

Away from the track, Asher-Smith has found her voice in more ways than one. A month after the world witnessed the horrific murder of American George Floyd by a police officer last year, Asher-Smith decided to express her experiences with racism in the United Kingdom in her newspaper column.

The opening paragraph includes the words “tiring,” “exhausting,” “emotionally draining” and “heart-breaking” in a piece where similar to her preparation, she leaves no stone unturned.

In March, Asher-Smith received the column of the year award by the International Sport Press Association and she says it was the first prize she has won that didn’t involve sport or running. The Brit admits that she was shocked to receive the award but felt it was necessary to share her emotions with the public on such an important topic.

“I simply wrote from the center,” she says. “I keep in mind on the time it was a subject that was each actually troublesome however very easy to put in writing about. Writing the column, it was simple to sort as a result of it was simply issues that have been very sincere to me and my life, opinion, experiences and my emotions. However bringing myself to the laptop computer and the method of getting to really sit down and write it, that took a very long time.

“I actually missed my first deadline and had to tell my editor that I’ve tried to write this so many times and emotionally it’s very difficult. I was happy with the reception because ultimately, I was thinking how can I help people understand what a lot of Black people feel.



Would Dina Asher-Smith give up her Olympic medal or her degree? Find out in ‘You Have To Answer’.

“You had the wonderful Naomi Osaka do her fantastic symbol at the US Open which was so inspirational and unimaginable and from a British perspective, you had Lewis Hamilton doing a similar thing when he was racing. I assumed if I actually need to make a change in boardrooms and folks which are doing a number of consumption of media then I believe it could be a good suggestion to place it into phrases.

“I was very happy that it was able to affect people because at the end of the day, I just wanted people to think and understand. Call me naive but I firmly believe and hope that the vast majority of people would never want fellow citizens, people of their community to feel put out in any kind of way.

“I am an optimist however I do assume typically that individuals want to face in different peoples’ footwear to grasp and I assumed at that second, that is what a lot of the world was very open to doing in a means that we have not seen earlier than so I assumed placing it in very sincere phrases for the influential viewers of newspaper readers was the easiest way I may do it in that second from the confides of my flat.”

Asher-Smith has also used her platform to lend support to fellow athletes. Following Osaka’s announcement that she would be avoiding the press at the French Open to look after her mental health, Asher-Smith released a statement on Twitter backing the tennis star and explained the pressure that athletes can be under when asked questions which are solely designed to trip them up to stir controversy.

Asher-Smith ended her statement with the phrase #BeKind and previously told ESPN about the importance of speaking out on mental health as it can encourage others to open up. She also lent public support to British teenager Emma Raducanu who enjoyed a sensational run at Wimbledon this year but was forced to retire her fourth-round match after having difficulties with her breathing.

Asher-Smith will be hopeful that Team Great Britain can generate as much excitement around the nation as Euro 2020 achieved this summer. She found herself enthralled with the England men’s national team reaching its first tournament final in 55 years which ended in defeat on penalties to Italy at Wembley.

Asher-Smith supports Manchester United but claims the choice was solely to appease her mother Julie, who is a “die-hard” fan. “Fairly frankly, I do know that if I stated something other than Man United being my crew, she would disown me,” she jokes with a hint of seriousness.

“I am proudly a Man United fan however I haven’t got a alternative within the matter. I’ll at all times be a Man United fan primarily as a result of I need to keep a very good relationship with my mom however I’ve to be upfront and say there may be nuance to me being a Man United fan.”

The sprinter has visited Old Trafford in the past and she could make the trip back up to Manchester next season with Premier League matches set to be at full capacity after the UK government ended COVID-19 restrictions from July 19.

Unfortunately for Asher-Smith and the athletes heading to Tokyo for the Olympics, they won’t be able to perform on the biggest stage in front of packed stadiums after spectators were banned amid a rise in coronavirus cases in Japan.

Even without supporters, Asher-Smith is aware of the uniqueness of the Olympics and how it can inspire people all over the world to get involved in sport. Earlier this year, she wrote about the importance of promoting body confidence after an eight-year-old at a school confided in the sprinter about her own weight issues.

Asher-Smith is more than capable of inspiring future athletes by claiming gold in Tokyo but is also adamant the Olympic Games send a powerful message by showing how athletes of different shapes and sizes can excel in their field.

“I believe it is likely one of the USPs and one of many greatest and proudest components of the Olympics Video games,” she says. “It is the truth that you’ll be able to see everybody from in every single place, all of them look utterly totally different and all people goes about doing their sport in a distinct, bio-mechanical means.

“For example, I’m 5’5″ however on the similar time I am racing women which are 6’2″ on one side and then girls on the other side who are 4’11” as effectively. Some persons are tall and slender and a few persons are very highly effective and we’re all operating the identical occasions.

“It shows lots of people around the world that there is not one right way to do something and one way to be excellent at something. I think that is a fantastic part of the whole Olympic Games because you just see so many diverse people and diverse body shapes from all different socioeconomic backgrounds come together and be excellent at what they do.

“It reveals the following technology that there’s completely no proper approach to do something and that is a message that the Olympic and particularly the Paralympic motion has been on board with for years and years.

“If we’re talking about body diversity and positivity, when people think about the Olympics, they might imagine these adonis-like people but honestly, if you actually look, these people might be fit but there’s more than one way to be fit, more than one way that fit gets expressed and these people are the best in the world at what they do and they all look different.

“That is what’s actually nice in regards to the Olympic Video games and I actually hope that seeing that provides lots of people confidence in their very own pores and skin.”

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