British 100m record-holder returns to the Olympic Stadium this weekend and says her Worlds discipline decision rests on how she does in London
Dina Asher-Smith was victorious when she raced at London’s Olympic Stadium in 2012. However, the reception she’ll get when she lines up at this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games might be just a little louder than the cheers that greeted her ahead of her Sainsbury’s School Games 200m final three years ago.
The 19-year-old has gone on to great things since 2012, a year which also saw her undertake kit carrying duties at the Olympic Games. The British 100m record-holder after her 11.02 in Hengelo in May, she again forms part of the 4x100m relay at the Anniversary Games – as she did at this event in 2013 – and contributes towards a top field for the individual event on Saturday. This time around at the Olympic Stadium, everyone will know her name.
“I think the thing that I am most excited about is the home crowd,” says Asher-Smith, who is set to face the likes of Murielle Ahoure, Dafne Schippers, English Gardner, Jeneba Tarmoh, Blessing Okagbare and Tianna Bartoletta in the British capital. “I remember when I was at the Olympics I came to watch Adam (Gemili) and when his face popped up on the screen the crowd went absolutely insane.
“When you do hear your name being announced and if people do cheer you, you do genuinely feel that people want you to do well. It’s really heart-warming.
“I was fortunate enough to be a box carrier (at the London 2012 Olympics) and I did it on Super Saturday so saw Jess, Greg and Mo do absolutely amazing,” she adds. “It really did inspire me to see how much people want British athletes to do well.
“It’s going to be absolutely amazing to be back in the Olympic Stadium and I really hope I do everybody proud. It’s not daunting at all, it’s a unique opportunity for us British athletes to utilise the atmosphere that the stadium provides. It’s not often you get to run there and I hope it will be absolutely packed. I just can’t wait.”
The event provides an ideal step towards the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month, with the meeting taking place on the eve of the selection deadline. Although Asher-Smith remains unsure over whether she would be keen to double up and run both the 100m and 200m at the Bird’s Nest, she will be using this weekend to help her decide which event she might prefer to contest.
“It’s the Olympics next year and even though doubling up would be great and I’d love to double up in the future, I do feel like, you can do one event and kind of save your body for next year,” she says.
“I’m looking forward to Rio and hopefully London (2017 World Championships) as well. I just want to try and stay in as good shape as I can.”
On making her decision after the Anniversary Games, she adds: “It just depends where I come in the race, what kind of times I run, how I execute it and how I deal with the environment because obviously London is such an amazing stadium with a home crowd, you’ve got to make sure that you deal with it and execute your races under that kind of pressure.
“It will depend on how well I do this weekend and obviously taking into account Birmingham and Monaco and just going from there.”
Since her record-breaking run, Asher-Smith has finished third behind Tarmoh and Allyson Felix at the Birmingham Diamond League, won the British 100m title and finished fourth over 200m with a time of 22.41 at the recent Monaco meeting.
So could a record run be on the cards for Saturday?
“I’ve been in good shape throughout the season but it does come down to how you do on the day, how you handle it and how you execute your race,” she says.
“I thought I was in good shape in Monaco but unfortunately I didn’t execute my race the way I wanted to and then I didn’t get a PB.”
» See the July 23 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine for a four-page preview to this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games