Dina Asher-Smith: Olympic champion in the making?

Luke Bradshaw
·Sports Writer
Dina Asher-Smith of United Kingdom winning the 200 meter for women during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar on October 2, 2019. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Dina Asher-Smith (Credit: Getty Images)

Given the bad press that these World Championships in Doha has received it’s easy to gloss over Dina Asher-Smith becoming a world champion.

In winning the 200m, she became the first British woman ever to win a major global sprint title. She became the first Brit to win an Olympic or World gold since Linford Christie’s Worlds win 1993.

If the silver she won in the 100m just days before came with far less expectation, given the talent in the field, the 200m was hers to lose. With the pressure heaped on her shoulders, she delivered an assured performance and outclassed the rest of the field. In the end, it wasn’t even close; she coasted home.

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After her win, she told BBC Sport: "I'm lost for words. I dreamed of this and now it's real," she told BBC Sport. "I don't think it's properly sunk in.

"I woke up today thinking, 'This is it. This is the moment you did all your work for'.

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 02: Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain competes in the Women's 200 metres final during day six of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 02, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
The Women's 200 metres final (Credit: Getty Images)

Running in a cross country event (that she hated) as an eight-year-old, Asher-Smith was spotted by Blackheath and Bromley Harriers coach John Blackie. He took her under his wing then and there, and has been her coach ever since. Post-race it was he that Asher-Smith dedicated her new gold medal to, highlighting his “patience, intelligence and wisdom”.

As she has worked on her sprint career as a teen, she continued her studies, completing a degree in history at King’s College London after her A-Levels. Over the last couple of years, no longer in full-time academia, her sprint career has blossomed.

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It’s now been around five years in which the 23-year-old has been part of the British athletics scene. This isn’t a sudden flash-in-the-pan moment of glory, it’s potential finally unlocked and realised; the maturation of talent.

She won the English Schools Championships title in the event that she is now a world champion in at Under 15, Under 17 and Under 20 level.

The European Junior Championships in 2013 brought with it the same result, before following it up with a World Junior title in the 100m a year later.

Britain's Dina Asher-Smith reacts after winning the Women's 200m final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on October 2, 2019. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Asher-Smith after becoming world champion (Credit: Getty Images)

In Rio, at the last Olympics in 2016, along with teammates Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Daryll Neita, she picked up a bronze in the 4 x 100m relay. Then, last year, she dominated the European Championships. By the time she left Berlin she had gold medals for the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m in her pocket. In the 200m final she became the first British woman to go under 22 seconds.

From the moment she entered the sport the progression has been clear. At each level, she has challenged, trained hard, improved and succeeded. From schools and juniors, to European and Commonwealth Games. While being World Champion is massive, everyone knows what should come next.

A year from now it’s the eyes of the general public and casual fan that join athletic aficionados. With every Olympics needing a couple for stars for Brits to hang their hype on, it’ll be Asher-Smith whose shoulders take the burden come track time.

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